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Climate, Energy & Water Research Institute (CEWRI)

Water Policy and Governance Program
CAEWRI- NARC, Islamabad

Water is not only the essential source of life but it always plays central role in social, economic and environmental development around the world. Yet, it is also finite and more often a shared resource as well as unevenly distributed in time and space. As such water managers, users and service providers face multiple challenges in achieving sustainable, economical and equitable water services, drawing on complex and increasingly contested resources. There is growing consensus that the current global water crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs, but it is basically a crisis of ‘water governance’. Plentiful water resources in most countries can no longer be taken for granted. It is widely agreed that effective water governance is the key to address water insecurity. It requires the combined commitment of governments and various groups in civil society as well as the private sector and determines the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in development, management and utilization of water resources.

Pakistan faces a multidimensional water crisis that claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Water shortage has become a key hurdle in the continued economic growth. The widening gap between water supply and demand is leading to resource degradation and rising conflicts between the shareholders. The root causes of the water crisis in Pakistan are twofold: circumstantial, which are linked to poor water resources management policies; and structural, which are tied to factors deeply ingrained in politics (trans-boundary and inter-provincial) and society (bad water governance). Addressing these challenges requires new knowledge and better tools (technologies, policies and institutions) covering social, economic, political and environmental aspects of water resources management.

Water policy and governance research in Pakistan is a recent phenomenon; as such it is not only inadequate but also disintegrated and sometimes irrelevant. Majority of the research lacks in theoretical coherence and analytical rigor as most of the studies are mainly descriptive, argumentative and not empirically grounded. It is believed that water policy and governance reforms are specific and evolutionary rather than a mechanical process of borrowing best practices from any developed country. Therefore, there is a need for a second-generation research agenda on water policy and governance that is theoretically coherent, analytically robust, empirically grounded and policy oriented. A focus on raising the performance of water resources and irrigation systems through policy support, governance reforms and enhancing institutional capacity is the key to reduce water and food insecurities and contribute to continuous economic development in Pakistan.

The Water Policy and Governance Program (WPGP)is the most recent addition to the research program structure of the Institute as an effort to fill in the institutional gap in this important area of research. The program aims to improve water policy and governance at national, provincial and local level of water managers, users and service providers. It will review, critique and evaluate national and international water policy and governance programs in order to prioritize our research needs on water policy and governance reforms.

The program is focused to undertake and coordinate research in multiple thematic areas of water governance such as:

  • water policy and regulations

  • water rights and permits

  • water treaties and conflict resolutions (trans-boundary and inter-provincial)

  • water allocations, entitlements and distribution

  • water pricing and subsidies

  • water integrity and transparency

  • institutional mechanisms and reforms

The program targets to provide strategic and policy support to water authorities, managers and other stakeholders to promote socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, economically efficient and people centered water resources management and delivery services at different levels of society. We are keen to develop and strengthen national, regional and international linkages for addressing water policy and governance related issues of Pakistan and the region.


Resource Person:

Engr. Zakir Hussain Dahri

PSO / Program Leader

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Climate Change, Alternate Energy and Water Resources Institute (CAEWRI),
National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC),
Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad – Pakistan
Ph. No. 051-8443632, 0300-9318931


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