THE WATER quality management, which has always been a critical issue in Pakistan, is set to get improved as the country has taken a major initiative through the groundbreaking of the National Capacity Building Institute for Water Quality Management in Islamabad a couple of days back with the Korean assistance to the tune of $3 million.
The ground-breaking ceremony was held at the PCRWR headquarters where Mir Changez Khan Jamali, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, was the chief guest.
The main objective of the water management is to conduct research and development for the conservation and efficient utilization of available water resources to meet the current water demand for various sectors in general and agriculture in particular, as well as planning for future demands.
Speaking at the ceremony, the minister appreciated the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for providing financial and technical support to this project of national importance. He hoped that the National Capacity Building Institute for Water Quality Management will act as Center of Excellence and will enable PCRWR to maintain a long-term capacity building setup in the area of water quality assessment.
The PCRWR is an apex autonomous body established with the objective to conduct, organize, coordinate and promote research in all aspects of water resources. Since its inception, the Council has played its role as a national research organisation by undertaking and promoting applied as well as basic research in various disciplines of water sector.
In his remarks, Choonjoo Choi, the Korean Ambassador, said that this institute will provide training in the capacity building of the water supply agencies of Pakistan in water quality assessment and management. And this project ranks high in the Pakistan-Korea collaboration, he said.
Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar, Federal Secretary for SandT, said on the occasion that the Pakistani government is executing various projects for the provision of safe drinking water and PCRWR is already imparting training to the professionals of water supply agencies.
Earlier, Dr. Aslam Tahir, Chairman PCRWR, a recent nation-wide survey of over 10,000 water supply schemes conducted by PCRWR has identified lack of trained manpower as the main reason for poor performance of water supply schemes besides other technical, financial and social issues.
Muhammad Jahangir, expert on water, sanitation and hygiene, has termed this capacity building institute a step in the right direction though late.
“We need to define our needs very clearly lest this institute also becomes a show piece.” He also said that in over 6 decades, Pakistan has not been able to set up an institute, which should offer three-year diploma in water and waste water and today our civil engineers tend to work with water supply projects, but they lack even basic know-how about their job and the situation in other Muslim countries is also not much different from us.
Despite high population growth the country has increased the share of the population with access to an improved water source from 85 per cent in 1990 to 92 per cent in 2010, although this does not necessarily mean that the water from these sources is safe to drink. The share with access to improved sanitation increased from 27 per cent to 48 per cent during the same period.
KOICA, which has arranged funds for the National Capacity Building Institute for Water Quality Management, was founded as a government agency on April 1, 1991, to maximize the effectiveness of Koreas grant aid programs for developing countries by implementing the governments grant aid and technical cooperation programmes.