ISLAMABAD – The Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) in collaboration with National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Islamabad on Wednesday arranged a seminar to celebrate World Water Day 2012 and highlight the importance of water conservation.

Ambassador of Cuba, representatives of US Embassy, Dr. Shehbaz from UNESCO Paris and other delegates attended the seminar, while Lt Gen Sardar Mahmood Ali Khan was the chief guest. 

Management of scarcity of water and exploring avenues for the effective implementation of water conservation strategy in Pakistan was the main focus where international and national experts, discussed rainwater harvesting as one of the most important and effective system of water conservation.

ERRA introduced the Rain Water Harvesting Programme under its Water and Sanitation Programme while rebuilding the destroyed areas of KP and AJK after earthquake 2005.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Dy Chairman ERRA Lt Gen Sardar Mehmood Ali Khan said that water is an essential element for survival and though Pakistan is blessed with surface and ground water resources, the rapid growth in population, unplanned urbanization and unsustainable water consumption practices have placed immense stress on the quality and quantity of country’s water resources. In Pakistan only every year over 250,000 child deaths occur due to water-born diseases, he said.

To popularize rainwater harvesting, ERRA is implementing the Rainwater Harvesting Pilot Project, in 20 Union Councils of the affected areas of AJ&K and KPK.

The project ensures installing rainwater harvesting systems on rooftop of 40,000 pucca-houses and 400 public buildings (schools, health centers, mosques, etc.) in 370 villages. Lt Gen Sardar Mehmood Ali Khan further said that a viable national strategy for water conservation could be successful if academicians, civil society, professional education institutions and media are on board.

Pro-Rector NUST Engineer Muhammad Mushtaq highlighted the importance of need for conserving water as the population increase and the lowering of water level in cities like Islamabad needs immediate attention.  He also invited the researchers and people with innovative ideas to make use of the institutions like NUST where projects of national importance can be implemented in a proactive research environment.  Appreciating ERRA’s efforts in initiating the rainwater harvesting project at nation level and installing the model at NUST, he said will increase awareness among younger generation. 

Dr Shahbaz Ahmed of UNESCO Paris shared his experience where Rain Water Harvesting was being utilized as a Source of water conservation internationally .He said conservation of water has led us to Australia and India where rain water is used in irrigation and should be introduced here also.  Later, Lt Gen Sardar Mehmood Ali Khan inaugurated a rainwater-harvesting model installed at NUST.