LAHORE - Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization (MGPO) is launching an ambitious irrigation project in Tholdi village of Khaplu district in Skardu valley at a cost of Rs16.35 million. The project is aimed at helping people to ensure food security in the wake of ever increasing challenges being posed by climate change.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has approved Rs13.2 billion for this project while the remaining amount will be contributed by the community. The Coca-Cola Foundation had joined hands with the MGPO in the year 2016 to carry out different projects under its ‘New World Program’ aimed at need-based and demand-driven services to build resilience and reduce vulnerability in Baltistan Division. The Foundation has sponsored three phases of this project where phase 1 had been successfully completed in village Siksa benefitting 4,000 people and replenished 5.05 billion litres of water per annum back to nature and community.

Under the same program, MGPO had completed a long piped irrigation water supply scheme in Village Siksa of 15,200 running feet (RFT) to irrigate 354.099 hectares land provided with the reliable source of water for agriculture activities. Piped irrigation method was used to deliver water to target areas. This method was used to ensure the efficiency of transmission and maintain the quality of water. The rugged terrain and harsh climate do not allow for surface channels. Pipes were placed underground to ensure insulation and protection from extreme temperature variation. Due to precipitation changes, as a result of climate change, water reliability and amplitude had become major issues. The existing cultivated fields were not receiving water on time and quantity of water and flow pattern was affecting agriculture productivity. Additional land has also been brought under cultivation giving communities opportunity to expand social economic activities that will support livelihood and protect the environment.

The benefits from this project, and the one at Gole, are manifold and range from social uplift to economic gain, to women empowerment and environmental protection. Secure and reliable supply of water has lessened the burden on local women and children, by also ensuring food security, improved health indicators, increased income and contributed to savings. Encroachment on habitat and degradation of the environment has also decreased. Around 850 households now have access to safe water for domestic use. Water points locations were decided in consultation with the community based on their needs. These water points are within walking distance of 5-10 meters from houses. The drinking water supply has improved domestic consumption of water which has been provided from a freshwater spring source. This supply is now the primary source and has the capacity of 1.5 cusecs and is sufficient to meet per person domestic need of the family in Gole Village.