PESHAWAR - Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), Federal Flood Commission (FFC) under the Ministry of Water Resources, and WWF-Pakistan have jointly launched a programme titled ‘Recharge Pakistan: Building Pakistan’s Resilience to Climate Change through Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Integrated Flood Risk Management’ with a 30-year vision.

According to a press release issued here on Thursday, this programme unifies several government entities in an unprecedented collaboration with WWF and other stakeholders, to effect nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation across Pakistan’s Indus River Basin. Recharge Pakistan will be a flagship programme to increase water storage and recharge through wetlands, floodplains and hill-torrents management; build resilience of vulnerable communities through climate-adapted, community-based natural resource management ,livelihoods and forge a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s climate change adaptation and flood risk management approaches.

The programme consists of three phases, each of which spans 10 years. It will be implemented in selected sites, along the Indus River, across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. These sites will be selected based on flood risks, climate change projections, water storage and recharge potential, and the needs of local communities. The programme envisions that by 2050, ecosystem-based adaptation will contribute towards better climate resilience, water and food security and sustainable livelihoods. More than 10m people, equivalent to around five per cent of Pakistan’s population, will directly benefit from the programme, while 20 million people across 50 vulnerable districts of Pakistan will be indirect beneficiaries. 

 

Malik Amin Aslam, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, while highlighting Pakistan’s leadership role in addressing climate change under the Prime Minister’s vision stated that ecosystem-based adaption is the cornerstone of the government’s climate agenda, which comprises of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Programme (10BTTAP), Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Protected Areas Initiative, and Green Stimulus, along with Recharge Pakistan. The ecological benefits of such initiatives are also expected to serve the global community.

Commenting on this initiative, Ahmed Kamal, Chief Engineering Advisor and Chairman, Federal Flood Commission (FFC), said that the project is the first of its kind that will introduce flood management through innovations and will result in strengthening of the social fabric of society.

 

Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said that in recent years Pakistan has become more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Incidents of floods are increasing in intensity and frequency in the Indus Basin, resulting in serious humanitarian and economic repercussions. He added that integrated flood risk management is now a key national priority, adding that the programme proposes to undertake ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) interventions that will store flood water in wetlands, floodplains and depressions (green infrastructure) at several priority sites.

 

According to German Watch’s long-term Climate Risk Index (CRI) data obtained from 1999 to 2018, Pakistan is among the top five countries affected by the impacts of weather-related events such as heatwaves, storms, floods among others. Furthermore, Pakistan witnessed more than 152 major climate-related events and lost around USD 3.79 billion in terms of Purchasing Power Parity. 

In addition, the country is one of the most water-stressed in the world, with average per capita water availability at 964 m3 per annum and has been reliant on costly grey infrastructure flood and water management measures with limited efficacy. The project will build Pakistan’s climate resilience and water security through cost-effective ecosystem-based adaptation.

 

To tackle the impacts of climate change and water security, Recharge Pakistan will contribute to the relevant policies and commitments, including the National Climate Change Policy, National Flood Protection Plan IV, National Water Policy, and Sustainable Development Goals. It will lead to additional water storage capacity in wetlands alongside the river system to regulate water discharges during high floods and will promote local rainwater harvesting and development of small storages on run of the rivers during peak flows.

 

The key implementing partners and stakeholders include Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms; National Disaster Management Authority; Pakistan Meteorological Department, Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC); Provincial Departments in Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, viz Irrigation, Forests, Wildlife, Fisheries, Environment, Agriculture, PDMAs, and Tourism, NGOs, and academia.

 

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