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Water and Climate

Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan

Project Code: LWR/2015/036
Research Program Manager: Dr. Robyn Johnston
Project Leader: Jehangir Punthakey - Charles Sturt University
OCT 2016
SEP 2020
Project Status: Legally Committed/Active
Key partners
Balochistan Irrigation and Power Department
Balochistan University of Information Technology
Engineering and Management Sciences
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas
Mehran University of Engineering and Technology
NED University of Engineering and Technology
Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources
PMAS Arid Agriculture University
Punjab Irrigation Department
Sindh Agricultural University
Sindh Irrigation Department
University for Arid Agriculture
University of Agriculture
University of Agriculture Faisalabad
Water and Power Development Authority


Pakistan’s population of over 180 million relies heavily on agriculture, which contributes 21 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and more than 40 percent of its employment. Around 95 percent of the country’s water consumption is used for agriculture, and the pressure on available resources is increasing.

Surface water supply is variable, particularly for farmers at the tail end of canals and distributaries in Sindh and Punjab provinces. Dependence on groundwater has increased with over one million tube wells in use. Groundwater decline and spread of salinisation is rendering fertile lands unusable.Electricity subsidisation, inefficient irrigation practices and lack of regulation exacerbates groundwater over-extraction. Lack of monitoring, awareness, and other socio-political constraints compound the challenge of pursuing productive and sustainable groundwater use.

This project was a collaboration through partnerships to address the complexity of achieving effective and fair groundwater management. This project aimed to build capacity of researchers, farmers, farming communities and relevant government and non-government agencies to improve groundwater management in ways that enhanced farming family livelihoods in Pakistan. Building capacity means building skills, knowledge and confidence, and providing relevant tools and processes.