Posts Tagged ‘ Agriculture ’

Target and Result: No Data

 

Quarterly Progress and Oversight Report on the Civilian Assistance Program in Pakistan

The U.S. Civilian Assistance Programme to Pakistan fails to measure the success of its various projects in the country.  According to its quarterly report, which was recently released, the indicators required to measure the success of these projects remain missing from its assistance programme, which were supposedly to be identified by the US Embassy. Three years down and with almost 4 billion dollars already spent since 2009 on the programme, the environment in Pakistan towards the U.S. is as hostile as it was post 9/11.

The assistance programme aims to support high-impact, high-visibility infrastructure; focused humanitarian and social services; and government capacity development, and then there is a shift in funds as the need arises and is determined by the USG in consultation with the GOP. But what this assistance programme doesn’t aim to do is to create a parallel public focus from within Pakistan on issues, which are relevant to their existence; even if it did, the approach is dealing with it at the surface as the problem lies with our institutions that lack the capacity to address deep-rooted issues despite the funding and the necessary linkages.

The areas where USG implements these project through the USAID, most of its partners are already bad storytellers not that the ‘AID is any different; they are far worse hence the strategic way of communicating the relevance of these projects in the targeted sectors that they operate in is often diluted with the cases such as “Davis’es” of USA and the “Qadri’s” of Pakistan, the fact of the matter here would be that situation such as these will continue to arise-so one of the core aim of each project/USG/USAID should be to communicate to the people of Pakistan that the money which is being spent through these projects on the assistance is coming out of the American taxpayers pocket, and that too not in a way that challenges and questions an average Pakistani’s ability to meet his/her own needs, but to develop a sense of realization that enables them to react constructively towards their basic rights.

 

Global Risks 2011 - Sixth Edition

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2011, one of the three important clusters of risks beyond the Economic disparity and global governance failures is the “Water-Food-Energy” nexus. According to which, shortages can lead to social and political instability, geopolitical conflict and irreparable environmental damage. The rapid increase in population will put unsustainable pressures on resources in Pakistan, despite having realtime factual data on the three, the debate that needs to be created on these issues within the media to bring them into public focus is far from ever happening. Yet the level of communication and advocacy strategies required for the emerging crisis out of the inter-relatedness of the nexus will be critical in raising awareness for the value of water, renewable energy technologies and agricultural production practices within the Pakistani society.

As of December 31, 2010, $3.931 billion in FY 2009, 2010 and 2011 fund were obligated to support the assistance strategy; of this amount, $233.8 was obligated for energy, $225.6 for agriculture and a staggering $298.5 for water. And if this were to be translated into the public debate it would mean nothing less than a “void”.

Risk in focus 3: The water-food-energy nexus

For instance, not much content has been created over the past three years on education especially the areas where the AED was operating in, had that been the case, it wouldn’t had taken the USAID OIG this long to make up their minds over suspending the partner’s operation in Pakistan. The livelihood development programme in the upper region of FATA, where the mission had no baseline data to determine the progress of countering the influence of extremism, is yet another example. Consequently, the assistance programme suffered greatly as it lacked a strategic content integrated approach to it, in other words it lacked the knowledge that could have been as a result of an outreach support from within Pakistan that could have put the most relevant challenges in the spotlight.

So as the OIG expects to conduct four performance audits and one financial audit for the remaining FY 2011, programmes such as the Pre-STEP, Firms, the Energy and Efficiency Capacity are in the waiting of being evaluated.

And in spite of such overarching principles and priority programmes; almost everything in Pakistan tends to be politicized so it’s either a conspiracy or a propaganda, the civilians are normally found religiously lost in the debate over the two.

So if the assistance strategy, that as it may seem strengthening the partnership with the Pakistani people is often looked as impediments to the country’s economic growth and social stability. Meanwhile the media falls short of creating any content whatsoever upon pre-identified local priorities just as the embassy tries to realign the indicators required for the ‘AID to measure the impact of it’s projects in the country.

 

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Water Matters

Population Growth: Economy, Agriculture and Energy

According to the Water Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft[1], Pakistan has the least secure supplies of water and is in the extreme risk category.

The world’s sixth most and second most populous Muslim country; Pakistan’s population is projected to swell up to over 330 million in year 2050, as indicated by the population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat[2].

Today, as the country faces unprecedented security threats, dwindling economy, natural hazards and political instability; many analysts still believe that the country has promising market opportunities in future. The availability of water will become a much higher priority in business decisions and investment endeavors.

One of the country’s most urgent challenges is how to manage the nation’s precious water resources to meet growing human, economic, and environmental needs. Pakistan remains in the high-risk category with respect to water availability. The availability of clean water has dropped from 1950s: 5,000 cubic meters to less than 1,500 cubic meters per person today[3], primarily due to the rapid growth in population. And yet we remain dependent on only three hydrological units, two of which are rapidly silting from the Himalayas[4].

As the population increases the pressure on the existing water resources will intensify. The shift will have an adverse impact on employment, economic development, healthcare systems, food security, urban management, chronic diseases, biodiversity, communal and social harmony etc etc.

The existing water and sanitation infrastructure in the cities is inadequate to cope with the increasing urbanization, which is putting a majority of the population at risk and causing serious damage to the environment. Water-related disasters such as floods, tropical storms, and heavy rainfalls only add toll to the human suffering.

Pakistan has already been through two of the gravest natural hazards this year so far; the Attabad crisis and the recent floods. Causes: Glacial melt and for the latter the debate is still among the monsoon patterns, heavy rainfall, climate change, dams and deforestation. Which ever case it is, as of now 20 million people are homeless, lives have been lost, as desperation and hunger persists.

It has been estimated by resource experts that continued growth in population will reduce per-capita freshwater availability by 70 per cent by 2070 and Pakistan will be a water scarce society[5]. The increase in demand for water will adversely affect the groundwater resources, as over 70 percent of it is allocated already to Pakistan’s irrigation and other agricultural needs; one million tubewells across the country are satisfying short-term needs but leading to unsustainable use of groundwater and declining water levels. This cannot continue.

The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has recently recommended to the Government of Pakistan to create Water Regulatory Authority, which will consist of representatives from the federal and provincial governments. The purpose of the authority is to regulate optimum water use and balance in different basins under enabling legislation[6].

According to studies conducted on Water Management, Pakistan also loses almost two-thirds of its supply to leaks and poor transmission in its canal system due to poor infrastructure and the inefficient water management.

Pakistan already has one of the highest child mortality rates in Asia[7]; an estimated 250,000 deaths occur each year due to water-borne diseases[8]. According to the national water report, less than one in four rural households is connected to a tap; many others simply rely on inferior sources.

Inter-provincial conflicts over water also complicate water management: the construction of large dams or other infrastructure is slow and costly and can take up to 10 years; many fear that new needed dams will not be built quickly enough to reduce water problems anytime soon.

In an online interview, President, Pacific Institute and Member US Academy of Sciences, Dr. Peter H. Gleick also the author of ‘bottled and sold’ narrows down Pakistan’s precarious water situation, to few basic solutions, according to Dr. Gleick there is a need for building appropriate water-infrastructure, while also protecting downstream usage and rights on sharing. He says the relevant political institutions have a crucial role to play in effectively managing the possible internal conflicts arising out of water-sharing; but most of all, he says to eradicate the imbalance from within the society authorities will need to focus on providing people access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

According to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon “As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. This is not an issue of rich or poor, north or south. All regions are experiencing the problem of water stress. There is still enough water for all of us – but only so long as we keep it clean use it more wisely and share it fairly. Governments must engage and lead, ant he private sector also has a role to play in this effort”

In contrast to the technical approach; the Government of Pakistan will need to bring a more focused media attention in addressing and covering matters related to attaining the required benchmark for water conservation and management. An effort that engages media, public-private sector, academia and the non-governmental organizations focused on raising awareness within Pakistani society of water’s value and the need to place a price on its usage.  Pakistan’s public sectors respond to everyday water needs of average citizens in urban, peri-urban and rural settings, whether for drinking, irrigation, industrial, religious, or other use.  This platform along with a variety of interventions will build a national dialogue on water enabling multiple stakeholders in effectively creating content most relevant to the Pakistani society.

One of Pakistan’s targets in achieving millennium development goals is to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. However, it is believed that Pakistan is far from achieving this target. The members of the United Nations are meeting this month in New York to discuss the progress on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the 65th UN Summit.

 

(First appeared on the back-page of Finance and Review section of The News.)

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