Photo credit: IWMI-CGIAR
Farmer taking excess water out from the fields near 3R canal, Haron Abad, Pakistan. Photo: Faseeh Shams/IWMI
A better way to collect, send and share water information in Pakistan
A group of researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Pakistan are investigating whether water flow information that is clear, credible and timely can improve the management of public irrigation systems and lead to more equitable water distribution. The team is using new technology, which automatically measures canal flows, groundwater and weather, and transmits this information to water managers through a mobile phone network. This is the first attempt at using such technology for flow monitoring at this level of canal irrigation in the country.
Currently, Pakistan’s Indus Basin Irrigation System supports 300 million people and a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) through agriculture. However, this system cannot meet the rising demand for water from farmers. According to predictions, Pakistan will have the world’s fifth largest population by 2050. This, alongside trends of increasing land fragmentation and a transition towards the cultivation of cash crops, is putting pressure on water distribution.
The current system also faces challenges of inequity due to water rationing. During the summer months, farmers need additional water to compensate for higher rates of evapotranspiration, but the demand for water exceeds the supply. Depending on farmers’ location along the canal system, some have better access to water and receive different quantities even though they pay the same water fees per unit of land. IWMI is piloting a new way of collecting, processing and monitoring data, and researchers hope that this will help water managers clearly identify areas in need. Eventually, this could support the development of policies for more equitable and sustainable water use.
Read the full article: IWMI-CGIAR