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The waters of the Indus basin begin in the Himalayan mountains of Indian held Kashmir. They flow from the hills through the arid states of Punjab and Sind, converging in Pakistan and emptying into the Arabian Sea south of Karachi. Where once there was only a narrow strip of irrigated land along these rivers, developments over the last century have created a large network of canals and storage facilities that provide water for more than 26 million acres - the largest irrigated area of any one river system in the world. The partition of the Indian subcontinent created a conflict over the plentiful waters of the Indus basin. The newly formed states were at odds over how to share and manage what was essentially a cohesive and unitary network of irrigation. Furthermore, the geography of partition was such that the source rivers of the Indus basin were in India. Pakistan felt its livelihood threatened by the prospect of Indian control over the tributaries that fed water into the Pakistani portion of the basin. Where India certainly had its own ambitions for the profitable development of the basin, Pakistan felt acutely threatened by a conflict over the main source of water for its cultivable land. During the first years of partition the waters of the Indus were apportioned by the Inter-Dominion Accord of May 4, 1948. This accord required India to release sufficient waters to the Pakistani regions of the basin in return for annual payments from the government of Pakistan. The accord was meant to meet immediate requirements and was followed by negotiations for a more permanent solution. Neither side, however, was willing to compromise their respective positions and negotiations reached a stalemate. Pakistan wanted to take the matter to the International Court of Justice but India refused, arguing that the conflict required a bilateral resolution. By 1951, the two sides were no longer meeting and the situation seemed intractable. The Pakistani press was calling for more drastic action and the deadlock contributed to hostility with India. As one anonymous Indian official said at the time, "India and Pakistan can go on shouting on Kashmir for all time to come, but an early settlement on the Indus waters is essential for maintenance of peace in the sub-continent" (Gulati 16). Despite the unwillingness to compromise, both nations were anxious to find a solution, fully aware that the Indus conflict could lead to overt hostilities if unresolved. In this same year, David Lilienthal, formerly the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and of the US Atomic Energy Commission, visited the region to write a series of articles for Colliers magazine. Lilienthal had a keen interest in the subcontinent and was welcomed by the highest levels of both Indian and Pakistani governments. Although his visit was sponsored by Colliers, Lilienthal was briefed by State Department and executive branch officials, who hoped he could help bridge the gap between India and the United States and also gauge hostilities on the subcontinent. During the course of his visit, it became clear to Lilienthal that tensions between India and Pakistan were acute, but also unable to be erased with one sweeping gesture. In his journal he wrote: India and Pakistan were on the verge of war over Kashmir. There seemed to be no possibility of negotiating this issue until tensions abated. One way to reduce hostility . . . would be to concentrate on other important issues where cooperation was possible. Progress in these areas would promote a sense of community between the two nations which might, in time, lead to a
Kashmir settlement. Accordingly, I proposed that India and Pakistan work out a program jointly to develop and jointly to operate the Indus Basin river system, upon which both nations were dependent for irrigation water. With new dams and irrigation canals, the Indus and its tributaries could be made to yield the additional water each country needed for increased food production. In the article I had suggested that the World Bank might use its good offices to bring the parties to agreement, and help in the financing of an Indus Development program. (Gulhati 93) Lilienthal's idea was well received by officials at the World Bank, and, subsequently, by the Indian and Pakistani governments. Eugene R. Black, then president of the World Bank told Lilienthal that his proposal "makes good sense all round". Black wrote that the Bank was interested in the economic progress of the two countries and had been concerned that the Indus dispute could only be a serious handicap to this development. India's previous objections to third party arbitration were remedied by the Bank's insistence that it would not adjudicate the conflict, but, instead, work as a conduit for agreement. Black also made a distinction between the "functional" and "political" aspects of the Indus dispute. In his correspondence with Indian and Pakistan leaders, Black asserted that the Indus dispute could most realistically be solved if the functional aspects of disagreement were negotiated apart from political considerations. He envisioned a group that tackled the question of how best to utilize the waters of the Indus Basin - leaving aside questions of historic rights or allocations. Black proposed a Working Party made up of Indian, Pakistani and World Bank engineers. The World Bank delegation would act as a consultative group, charged with offering suggestions and speeding dialogue. In his opening statement to the Working Party, Black spoke of why he was optimistic about the group's success: One aspect of Mr. Lilienthal's proposal appealed to me from the first. I mean his insistence that the Indus problem is an engineering problem and should be dealt with by engineers. One of the strengths of the engineering profession is that, all over the world, engineers speak the same language and approach problems with common standards of judgment. (Gulhati 110) Black's hopes for a quick resolution to the Indus dispute were premature. While the Bank had expected that the two sides would come to an agreement on the allocation of waters, neither India nor Pakistan seemed willing to compromise their positions. While Pakistan insisted on its historical right to waters of all the Indus tributaries, the Indian side argued that the previous distribution of waters should not set future allocation. Instead, the Indian side set up a new basis of distribution, with the waters of the Western tributaries going to Pakistan and the Eastern tributaries to India. The substantive technical discussions that Black had hoped for were stymied by the political considerations he had expected to avoid. The World Bank soon became frustrated with this lack of progress. What had originally been envisioned as a technical dispute that would quickly untangle itself became an intractable mess. India and Pakistan were unable to agree on the technical aspects of allocation, let alone the implementation of any agreed upon distribution of waters. Finally, in 1954, after nearly two years of negotiation, the World bank offered its own proposal, stepping beyond the limited role it had apportioned for itself and forcing the two sides to consider concrete plans for the future of the basin. The proposal offered India the three eastern tributaries of the basin and Pakistan the three western tributaries. Canals and storage dams were to be constructed to divert waters from the western rivers and replace the eastern river supply lost by Pakistan.
While the Indian side was amenable to the World Bank proposal, Pakistan found it unacceptable. The World Bank allocated the eastern rivers to India and the western rivers to Pakistan. This new distribution did not account for the historical usage of the Indus basin and repudiated Pakistan's negotiating position. Where India had stood for a new system of allocation, Pakistan felt that its share of waters should be based on pre-partition distribution. The World Bank proposal was more in line with the Indian plan and this angered the Pakistani delegation. They threatened to withdraw from the Working Party and negotiations verged on collapse. But neither side could afford the dissolution of talks. The Pakistani press met rumors of and end to negotiation with talk of increased hostilities; the government was ill-prepared to forego talks for a violent conflict with India and was forced to reconsider its position. India was also eager to settle the Indus issue; large development projects were put on hold by negotiations and Indian leaders were eager to divert water for irrigation. In December of 1954, the two sides returned to the negotiating table. The World Bank proposal was transformed from a basis of settlement to a basis for negotiation and the talks continued, stop and go, for the next six years. One of the last stumbling blocks to an agreement concerned financing for the construction of canals and storage facilities that would transfer water from the eastern Indian rivers to Pakistan. This transfer was necessary to make up for the water Pakistan was giving up by ceding its rights to the eastern tributaries. The World Bank initially planned for India to pay for these works, but India refused. The Bank responded with a plan for external financing supplied mainly by the United States and the United Kingdom. This solution cleared the remaining stumbling blocks to agreement and the Treaty was signed by the Prime Ministers of both countries in 1960. The agreement also set up a commission to adjudicate any future disputes arising over the allocation of waters. The Permanent Indus Commission has survived two wars and provides an on-going machinery for consultation and conflict resolution through inspection, exchange of data, and visits. The Commission is required to meet regularly to discuss potential disputes as well as cooperative arrangements for the development of the basin. Either party must notify the other of plans to construct any engineering works which would affect the other party and to provide data about such works. In cases of disagreement, a neutral expert is called in for mediation and arbitration. While neither side has initiated projects that could cause the kind of conflict that the Commission was created to resolve, the annual inspections and exchange of data continue, unperturbed by tensions on the subcontinent. The Indus Waters Treaty is the only agreement that has been faithfully implemented and upheld by both India and Pakistan. Although its negotiation was often arduous and frustrating for the World Bank and for the Indian and Pakistani delegations, the final outcome was amenable to all parties. While the World Bank may have underestimated the political impediments to technical debate and agreement, Eugene Black's desire to "treat water development as a common project that is functional, and not political, in nature . . . undertaken separately from the political issues with which India and Pakistan are confronted" suggests possibilities for future areas of Indo-Pakistani cooperation. Although, it is doubtful whether "functional" areas of cooperation are ever devoid of political considerations - the will to agree, the will to accept ideas put forward by outside mediators, the will to change positions - these considerations might be met when cooperation is vital. The Indus waters are the life blood of Pakistan and much of western India; functional cooperation was necessary for both sides to survive and prosper. The example of the Indus Waters Treaty suggests that cooperation between
India and Pakistan is possible in cases where the benefits of agreement are plentiful and pressing, overwhelming the political hedging that prevents other forms of reconciliation. Sources: Barrett, Scott, "Conflict and Cooperation in Managing International Water Resources," Policy Research Working Paper 1303, The World Bank, May 1994. Gulhati, Niranjan D., The Indus Waters Treaty: An Exercise in International Mediation, Allied Publishers: Bombay, 1973. Michel, Aloys Arthur, The Indus Rivers: A Study of the Effects of Partition, Yale University Press: New Haven, 1967. Verghese, B.G., Waters of Hope, Oxford and IBH Publishing: New Delhi, 1990.
Water shortage still a key issue in Pakistan ISLAMABAD: With the country fast heading towards a water-deficient status, experts at a workshop in the capital this week emphasised the need to educate the public about natural water shortages and efficient management of available water both for household and irrigation purposes. “The awareness of end-users (of water) is critical at the moment since they have to face the fallout. At the same time, an integrated and sustainable approach at the institutional level is required to efficiently manage available water resources to cope with future challenges,” said Dr Shahid Ahmed, director of water resources directorate of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in Islamabad. At present, Pakistan is classed as a “water-stressed” nation, having about 1,200 cubic metres per capita water availability for a population of almost 150 million. However, according to water experts that figure could slip below the water-deficient level of below 1,000 cubic metres per capita per year by 2010 onwards if the current situation prevails. Demands on Pakistan’s water resources are multiple, ranging from drinking and sanitation to irrigating crops, manufacturing activities, or as a vital component of the country’s ecosystem. “In a country with a high population growth expected to rise to 221 million by 2025, an integrated approach to water resources has never been more important,” said Tim Cullen, a water consultant for the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s water programme facilitating a workshop on water issues in Pakistan. The Islamabad workshop was organised by the ADB to provide local journalists with an overview of some of the key water issues affecting the South Asian region in general and Pakistan in particular, with a relevance on the essential role of media to create awareness about water challenges ahead. Pakistan’s agricultural sector, which accounts for 93 percent of all water usage in the country, is under severe pressure due to natural water shortages, high population growth and inappropriate management of available water. “We have to introduce greater institutional efficiencies to manage water logging and salinity, reduced water storage capacity, over exploitation of groundwater and weak water management for irrigation purposes,” Ahmed said. irin
CASE STUDY: PAKISTAN Population and Water Resources
Aijaz Nizamani, IUCN Country Office Fauzia Rauf, Women's Resource Centre Abdul Hakeem Khoso, Bhitaji Welfare Association Water is one of the most important life-supporting elements in the worldís ecological systems. It has particular importance for the arid ecosystems such as the Indus plains in Pakistan. Pakistan has three main river basins: Indus, Kharan and Mekran. The Indus Basin forms the largest river basin with the fertile plain lands in Punjab and Sindh provinces, while Kharan and Mekran form the Baluchistan plains. The Indus and Mekran basins drain off in the Arabian Sea. The Kharan Basin is known as a closed basin because the entire basins catchment water is used for agriculture and domestic requirements (IUCN, 1989). The Indus Basin is the most important and significant river basin in the context of the Pakistani economy. Hence, much of this chapter will focus on the Indus Basin and, specifically, a case study of Rahuki Canal in the Hyderabad district of the southern Sindh province. Irrigation has been practiced for hundreds of years in this arid region of the subcontinent. Despite this historical reliance on irrigation, the recent turning point in the regionís water resource development came in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. During the British colonial years, major barrages and extensive networks of canals were developed. The development of irrigation had a positive effect on the alleviation of poverty in the region because it removed one of the most severe development constraints: the lack of water.
Water, Food, and Economic Security
Pakistan, with 2,053 cubic meters (m3) per person, ranks eighth in per capita fresh water withdrawals among the 130 countries listed in the 1995 World Development Report. Its water potential is exceeded only by the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Pakistan depends on irrigation and water resources for 90 percent of its food and crop production (World Bank, 1992). The vast irrigation system in Pakistan is comprised of three major storage reservoirs, 19 barrages or head works, 43 main canals with a conveyance length of 57,000 kilometers, and 89,000 water courses with a running length of more than 1.65 million kilometers. This vast irrigation system feeds more than 40 million acres of irrigated land in Pakistan, a country with the highest irrigated and rain-fed land ratio in the world, 4:1. Pakistanís impressive irrigation and water resource development has not been without environmental and resource degradation costs in all the ecosystems, i.e., mountains, plains, and the deltaic and coastal areas. According to Arif Hassan, two dams at Tarbella and Chashma reservoirs resulted in the siphoning off of 74 percent of Indus waters before reaching Kotri, the last barrage point on the Indus in the
southern Sindh province. The deltaic area was reduced from 3,000 square kilometers (km2) to 250 km2 (Hassan, 1992). Plains that recently received more than the traditional inundation of waters during the monsoon or Kharif (summer), experienced a rapid rise in the subsurface water table. This abrupt change in the water table had serious impacts on the ecosystem in the plains. Together with the controlled irrigation and increased diversions it resulted in the rapid onslaught of the twin problems of waterlogging and land salinization. According to the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority, 12.9 percent of the greater canal area had a subsurface water table between 0 to 1.5 meters and had been declared a disaster area (Pakistan National Conservation Strategy, 1992).
Irrigation and Water Resource Development in Sindh Province
Sindh Province has about 13 million acres of irrigated lands in its three barrage command areas, built between 1932 and 1962. Sukkur barrage was the major irrigation achievement with a command area of 8.5 million acres. The barrage was built at a strategic location, some 600 kilometers upstream from the deltaic regions in the Arabian Sea. The other main component of the Sukkur barrage irrigation development scheme was the construction of vast canal networks in eight districts of the Sindh Province. The canal network included seven main canals and numerous subsidiary canals that conveyed irrigation water to 8.6 million acres. The other two barrages in the province are the Kotri barrage and the Guddu barrage, built in 1955 and 1962, respectively, with the former being upstream from the Sukkur barrage and the latter being roughly 150 kilometers away from the coastal and deltaic communities. Irrigation network in the province The controlled irrigation system installed during the colonial years was a vast network of waterways that carried irrigation supplies from the river source to the farm lands. The system is comprised of main canals, branch canals, distributor canals, and minor canals. The main canals draw water from the rivers at the barrage points and deliver water into the branch canals. Water reaches the farms through distributaries or minor canals, which take water from the branch canal, the lower middle tier of the irrigation system. The irrigation system built in the Sindh Province some 70 years ago is not in good shape, a fact which has enormous environmental and livelihood implications for the people in rural areas. It is believed that the old age of the earthen irrigation system as well as improper public-sector management are largely responsible for the decay and disintegration of the system. It is reported that less than one third of the canal withdrawals actually reaches the crop zone and that most of the water is lost due to mixing with the saline ground water. This waste of irrigation water is causing land degradation in adjacent canal and head command areas as well as water deprivation in the far end of the canals. No major study of water deprivations in the tail end of the system has been conducted. It is estimated, however, that out of the 13 million acres comprising the greater canal area in the province, at least one million acresómostly owned by small and poor land-owning familiesódo not receive sufficient irrigation supplies. The situation is extremely distressing to the communities or settlements that are dependent on surface irrigation flows for drinking and other domestic uses.
Rahuki Irrigation Canal
Rahuki irrigation canal, locally known as the Rahuki minor canal, draws its irrigation supplies from the Hyderabad branch canal of the Sukkur barrage irrigation system. Rohri main canal is the main conveyance source that takes water from the Indus Basin at the Sukkur barrage. According to Pakistanís irrigation department and local farmers, Rahuki minor canal has a command area of 24,000 acres in the prime, productive, alluvial plains of the Hyderabad district, one of the southern districts of Sindh Province. The minor canal command area forms part of the Rohri main canal, which has a command area of three million acres, one-and-a-half times more command area than the area irrigated by the Colorado River (Postel, 1995) and four times more command area than the area of the national irrigation systems in the Philippines (IIMI, 1995). Rahuki minor canal has 52 water course outlets with each water course command area generally ranging between 300 and 600 acres. The farmers in the head command area usually receive more than their fair share of irrigation, generally at the expense of the tail end or the far end area farms on the canal.
Crops in the Canal Area
Hyderabad district lands are known to be most fertile irrigated plains in the province. The lands and climate favor cultivation of a wide variety of field crops and orchards. The most common field crops are the rotation of wheat and cotton in Rabi (winter) and Kharif (summer). The other field crops include vegetable farming, cultivation of maize (mostly as fodder crop), sugar cane, banana plantations, and rose cultivation. The orchards include mango, guava, and Zisyphus farms. This wide variety of crops is found in the head or the initial 30 percent head command area of Rahuki canal. The cropping pattern and crop selection reflect the market demand as the farmers can rely on abundant irrigation supplies. The crops and farming in the lower reaches of the canal reflect the water scarcity. Crop selection and land resource use depends on the availability and the reliability of the irrigation water. The cropsí yields and returns are much lower than that of the crops of head-area farmers. The crops requiring more water, such as banana and sugarcane plantations, are hardly found in the tail-end area. Some of the conventional cropsólike wheat and forestry plantationsóare cultivated by the farmers in the center command area of the canal. History of irrigation shortage in the canal The Rahuki canal was constructed as part of the Sukkur barrage irrigation network and was completed in the mid-1930s. The canal, like most Sindh province canals, operated well during the colonial years. The farmers owning land on the tail-end area water courses could also receive irrigation supplies for their crops and irrigate their farms. This equitable use of water was due to proper operation and maintenance activities as well as the strict enforcement of the irrigation management rules. According to farmers and the Bhittai Welfare Association (BWA), a community based organization (CBO), the water situation in the canal was satisfactory until the 1960s. The farmers then organized desiltation campaigns in order to maintain the canal structures. One of the large land owners would organize the desiltation work and usually arranged to feed the working laborers. This arrangement
worked satisfactorily until the 1970s. Later, despite the farmersí contributions for canal maintenance, the scarcity continued until the complete disappearance of irrigation water in most of the extreme tailend areas, the last 40 percent to 45 percent of the canal command area. The irrigation shortage was due to the excess use of water in the head or initial upstream area of the canal. The other main reason for the irrigation shortage was the low capacity of the system canals. The water-conveying capacity of the canal was reduced due to improper maintenance, particularly the lack of optimum desiltation operations. Irrigation and water shortage in Rahuki command area It is important here to distinguish between the concepts of irrigation and water. Water has significant importance to the farming community in any irrigated agriculture area. Irrigation becomes the lifesustaining commodity in areas where the ground water is saline and entire communities are dependent on surface water resources for drinking, domestic purposes, and agriculture. In the settlements of the Rahuki canal area, the ground water is saline and people depend on the canal water for domestic and drinking purposes.
Water and Migration
Migration was found to be the single largest factor affecting population dynamics in the canal area, occurring in the last 45 percent of the canal. The migration was severe in the last 25 percent of the command area. It was reported that the Rahuki canal had approximately 100 small to medium-size villages, with each villageís population ranging from 100 to 5,000. Out of the canalís 52 water courses, migration touched the 19 water courses of the tail-end area. According to local informant Saeen Hamzo of Rahuki Tail Abadgar (Farmers) Association (RTAA), migration from 38 villages has occurred in the canal command area. RTAA sources believe that 17,000 to 18,000 persons faced water stress and that 8,000 to 10,000 migrated due to water or irrigation shortages over the last three decades. The water shortage or extreme scarcity was found to be the main cause for out-migration from most of the villages. Of the six villages visited for this study, Ibrahim Dhamach, Khaku Machi and Mohammad Machi villagesówith populations ranging between 200 to 1,000óhad complete migrations. Of the three other villages, two reported partial migrations and village Hamid Mallah had no migration. Despite extreme water scarcity, the far away source of drinking water, and the severe effect of the brick kiln chimneys, there was no migration from the Hamid Mallah village. The Mallah village people survived three extreme pressures: increased poverty, brick kiln emissions, and difficult-to-reach sources of drinking water. Despite these conditions, these villagers chose not to migrate. It was amply clear that the migration only took place when the communities could not find enough water for daily use. The distance of the migration from the old settlements to the new settlements ranged from 20 to 200 kilometers. In village Sher Mohammad Paryiar, some of the families had moved to the Nausheroferoze area, some 200 kilometers north of the village. The average migrations were reported to be 20 to 40 kilometers from the original settlements. Distance was not the only consideration for choosing new settlements once a family decided to move. Three main considerations follow:
family and security concerns; land for settlement or house construction; and
employment or work opportunities.
The decision to migrate was a difficult one. It was particularly stressful for the poor people and small land owners. In Sindh province the big land owners can sell the land in one area and buy agricultural property in other canal areas. Small land owners and poor people did not often have that option. For the most part, the small land owners owning land in this canal area did not own land on other canals and had been settled in these villages for generations. It was particularly difficult for these small land owners and the landless people to migrate unless life became unbearable. In villages such as Khaku Machi, Mohammad Machi and parts of Nindo Thebo, people have returned to their respective villages due to improvements in the water flow in the canal.
The Economics of Water for the Poor
In Pakistan the water charges for irrigation are known to be low, ranging from Rs.50 for crops and vegetable to Rs.125 for orchards. According to official statistics, the costs of irrigation water are highly subsidized in Pakistan. Some experts assert that these low rates for water are the main cause for irrigation mismanagement, which results in the denial of water to the tail-end communities of the system. According to Kirmani, irrigation charges amounted to only five percent of the crop expenses and raising water prices would not affect water consumption in Pakistan (Kirmani, 1992). These official and expert estimates do not take into consideration the expenses incurred by farmers to bring water to their farms. The actual costs determined by farmers in the two villages of Hamid Mallah and Parhiyar were found to be ten to 15 times higher than these official estimates. The irrigation costs in Parhiyar village were found to be Rs.2,050 per acre, which included the capital and operation and maintenance costs (O&M). The O&M costs for the wheat crop were determined to be Rs.550 per acre in this village, nearly ten times greater than the official irrigation charges for wheat. The costs of irrigation for a sharecropper in Hamid Mallah were reported to be Rs.1,700 per acre for onion and aubergine intercropping. In the Parhiyar village, farmers had raised a total of Rs. 250,000, with each farmer contributing Rs.1,500 for one hour of irrigation entitlement. The costs of irrigation in Hamid Mallah included the capital cost for the diesel pump, spare parts for a pump, and fuel charges. In both villages the estimates do not include the farmersí contribution toward system performance. It was reported in Parhiyar village that one of the lower level irrigation officials recently visited the village and asked the village head man to help him collect grain from the village farmers. The issue was brought up to the farmersí organization, which eventually refused
A Case Study of a Sharecroppers' Village:Village Hamid
The village of Hamid Mallah has a population of 200 to 250. They are sharecroppers; none of the families own any land. The Hamid Mallah community has suffered the most from the water shortage in the Rahuki canal. The village has been affected by its cropping or sharecropping losses as well as by its brick kilns emissions. The local inhabitants have suffered from a severe water shortage since the early 1980s. The years between 1988 and 1992 were reported to be the worst. Women were the hardest hit because they had to carry water from the Akram Wah source, which was nine kilometers away from the village. Most of the landless people had purchased donkeys and were engaged in bush cutting on the abandoned lands and road sides. Each donkeyload of wood earned ten to 12 rupees (Rs.; equal to US$.22 - US$.25), which is far less than sufficient for a family to survive. A 65-year-old landless villager said, "We would return home in the evening with flour, ghee, tea, and other barely survivable groceries after selling a donkey wood load in the nearby towns of Hyderabad or Tando Haider." The situation has improved dramatically in less than three years. The campaign sustained and organized by the CBO and the farmers has resulted in improved canal water flow. Most of the lands cultivated by the village sharecroppers are covered with crops. More than three fourths of the houses have been built with baked bricks, which shows the improvement in the quality of life in the village. However, despite these pucca houses and improved household economies, the villagers still face the effects of brick kiln emissions. The emissions are wreaking havoc on human health and severely curtailing the villagers' income from the crops.
to meet the illegitimate demand of this irrigation official.
Resistance to Water Shortage
In the subcontinent, it is not unusual for farmers and communities to go on strike and demonstrate for access to water, particularly irrigation water. In Rahuki canal it was reported that farmers have been pressuring the officials for better irrigation system performance. They had been lobbying with the irrigation officials for irrigation improvements. These efforts, which included writing applications to concerned department officials and district magistrates, took place until the 1980s. While the politicians used to see the issue of irrigation water as important, even they began to view the water deprivation of the tail-end communities as fate in later years.
Water Shortage and Survival Strategies
Despite the farmersí initiatives to carry out operations and major desiltation campaigns, the system continued to deteriorate. It worsened in the 1970s and land owners unable to cultivate crops on their lands sold them to those building brick kilns. According to farmers and the RTAA, before the recent irrigation flow improvements in the canal there were 98 brick kilns in the Rahuki command area. The prime reason for brick kilns was the non-availability of water. The farmers received between Rs.3,000 and 5,000 per acre for a three to seven foot layer of the topsoil. In village Nindo Thebo a farmer sold his entire 6.5 acres of land for brick kilns at Rs.6,000 per acre. According to the leaseís Terms of Reference the purchasers would extract three feet of soil in five years. Violations of such agreements were common, and soil was extracted until ground water appeared. The farmers and CBO sources estimate that nearly 100 brick kilns had severely degraded the lands in an area of 6,000 to 7,000 acres. The farmers report that each brick kiln occupies an area of 40 to 50 acres and affects crops in the surrounding 1,000 to 1,500 acre area. The reclamation costs for the lands destroyed by the brick kilns are reported to be Rs.10,000 to 25,000 per acre. Much of these degraded lands belong to poor and small land owners who do not have the resources to reclaim these lands. One farmer recounts that ìwe gave our lands to the brick kiln people as there was no water. Now we have water but donít have the money and other resources to rehabilitate and cultivate crops on this land.î He was referring to recent improvements in the irrigation situation. Some of these farmers were considering giving the brick kiln-affected lands to big land owners for five to ten years on free lease.
The small farmers hope that the free lease arrangement will help them rehabilitate their land and enable the leasee to earn his profit. The strategy, however, is fraught with problems. An increased or improved flow of water in the tail-end areas would result in the rapid rise in the subsurface water table. The brick kiln lands, which have sunk low due to the removal of layers of topsoil, would be the first ones to be affected. Unless soil conservation practices, such as planting perennials and native vegetation, are carried out soon on the lands owned by the poor people, they are likely to suffer even with the improvement in the water flow of the canal. The emissions of the brick kilns had a devastating impact on the limited crops that could be grown in the areas where either water has been available or has improved recently due to the efforts of the CBO and farmers. A farmer in village Hamid Mallah disclosed that he earned Rs.65,000 from a four acre maize fodder crop during the 1995 winter season. The following summer the maize crop from the same piece of land sold for only Rs.18,000. The crop suffered great losses in the summer months when the northern winds brought the brick kiln emission toward his lands. These emissions have destroyed mango and guava orchards on hundreds of acres in the canal area, particularly in the tailend area villages of Nindo Thebo and Sher Mohd Parhiyar. Water shortage and unemployment The irrigation water shortage in the canalís tail-end area severely curtailed the cropping activity in all villages in the area. It had a debilitating impact on the local village and community economies, which are dependent on the lands. The water shortage destroyed the agricultural economies and the livelihood of the people. In Parhiyar village, with a population of more than 700, only two persons were not dependent on the land; they were recently appointed as primary school teachers. Similarly, in Mallah village, with a population of more than 200, only two persons had jobs that were not dependent on agriculture.
A Case Study of a Land Owner on the Move
Sodho Khan, 36, is the father of five children. He owns four acres of land in Nausheroferoze district, some 175 kilometers north of Rahuki canal. In the mid-1970s, Sodho, in his late teens, moved to Parhiyar village due to a family feud in his native village. The water availability was good, and he could earn his living by working as a sharecropper on Parhiyar village lands. After a few years, the water situation worsened and Sodho moved back to his native village. Sodho worked on his four acre plot in Nausheroferoze for a few years until it became waterlogged. The land degradation was so severe that he could not earn his living from the crops. Once again, Sodho had to move to Parhiyar village. The water situation had worsened there and Sodho could not find agricultural work. Like other men in the village, he also earned his living by cutting bushes from the road side and the barren lands. The massive cutting of bushes by the entire village community resulted in the eventual disappearance of bushes. "We had to do odd jobs like stone crushing for road construction," said Sodho. The period between 1988 and 1993 was said to be the worst years for the village lands and the people. The situation has dramatically improved over the last three years, both due to improved availability of water in the canal as well as the village irrigation channel. The farmers' collective investment of Rs.250,000 to purchase irrigation pumps and construct a pond has improved the water availability for villagers and village lands. Sodho says now he has ample opportunities for work, and during the peak seasons he can earn Rs.150 per day. Sodho is poor but efficient and has managed to save enough to construct a pucca house since the employment situation has improved, which was the direct result of increased water flow in the canal.
Entire communities and villagers in the tail-end areas are victims of irrigation scarcity, but the landless
sharecroppers are the worst victims. Because the land could not be cultivated for many years the sharecroppers were denied subsistence credit from the land owners, thus pushing large numbers of them into unemployment. This situation was found in almost all the villages visited for this study. Unemployment was high in the extreme tail-end area of Khaku Machi and Mohammed Machi. In addition to the severe, negative effects felt by the poorer people, well-to-do families were also affected by irrigation water shortage. In Parhiyar village, Ghulam Mohammad, the community head man, reported that during the worst water shortage period no one was prepared to offer him work as a laborer on the farms of nearby villages. He said this occurred because the villagers could not bear to see him working as a laborer. He said ìI was dying, prepared for suicide, as I did not even have five rupees to feed rice to my family. And still these people would not offer any work.î
The Water Shortage and Its Impact on Women
Like in all developing countries, women in Pakistan play a vital role both as water suppliers and water managers. In the water-scarce areas, people are not only deprived of a natural resource but also suffer severe consequences because of its impact on the dynamics of social relations, work patterns, health, and the environment. In the context of Pakistan, patriarchal values and the traditional concept of purdha determine the social position of women and confine them to the traditional role of managing homes. Women in this country are even more vulnerable when an essential natural resource such as water is scarce. In the Rahuki Canal area, the authors spoke to women in three villages: Ali Mohammad Parhiyar, Khakoo Machi, and Hamid Mir Bahar. Group discussions uncovered the changes in social fabric and the miseries of women and children. The situation in all three villages was found to be similar, except the level of suffering varied according to the distance from which the women had to fetch water; the influence of external factors such as the construction of brick kilns; and so on.
A Case Study of a Landless Sharecropper, Mevo Mallah
Mevo, 42, the father of ten children, is a landless sharecropper in the Hamid Mallah village, one of the tail-end villages of Rahuki canal. Mevo works on 30 acres of land, owned by a widow who is the mother of nine children. Mevo believes that his family has been working on this piece of land for the last two generations. Mevo, along with the other village men, faced extreme livelihood hardships between 1988 and 1993. Mevo and the rest of the landless people in the village were involved in bush cutting because the lands could not be cultivated due to a water shortage in the canal. The improvement in irrigation since 1993 has had a dramatic impact on Mevo's family. He practiced intercropping of onion and aubergine on five acres of land in 1995. The gross returns from the intercropping was exceptionally high, Rs.149,000, with net income from two inter-crops totaling Rs.115,000. The irrigation costs were far higher than the official irrigation charges, amounting to Rs.1,700 per acre or 25 percent of crop expenses. Mevo has been able to substantially improve the quality of life for his family and has recently constructed a small pucca house.
Each village consisted of clusters of 20 to 30 houses. The members of the cluster were usually related to each other; 95 percent were nuclear families. Each family was living in a mud house, which consisted of two to three rooms and a big courtyard. The average size of the families was 12 to 15 members, four to five of whom were adults and the rest were children.
Family size, particularly the number of children, was high with proportional increases in poor families. In Kaku Machi and Hamid Mir Bahar villages, most people did not own land and were unable to cultivate them. They usually had more children than the land-owning families of Sher Mohammad Parhiyar and Nindo Thebo. The mortality and morbidity rates were also found to be very high. Large numbers of women had lost three to four children either after birth or during birth. Some extreme cases existed in which women had lost all of their offspring. The scarcity of water severely affected all these villages. In agricultural-based villages where 75 percent of the population consists of sharecroppers, economic survival depends on each family member working in the field. Women were also responsible for supplementing the income of the family by either working in the field with the men in their families or by drawing cash income by working on othersí fields during the harvest seasons of chili, vegetables, and other cash crops. Beside working in the field, women generated income by pursuing traditional crafts such as embroidery, basket weaving, and livestock-rearing.
Water and Womenís Employment
During the worst shortage of irrigation water, women were completely deprived of employment opportunities. Faced with intense poverty, women were forced to depend more on tedious and less profitable work such as embroidery, traditional rally work (a sheet comprised of patch work), or making coals from the burning of bushes, while the men were leaving the village in search of employment. But even women who were widows or had no other source of income had to go to other villages in search of jobs. In a situation where the mobility of women is extremely restricted by cultural attitudes, women reported that they were never comfortable leaving their village unescorted. Previously, either men or elderly women accompanied them. But intense economic pressures forced them into a situation for which they were never mentally prepared. One woman -- the sole wage earner in her family -- reported that during the water shortage she had to go to other villages to work on somebodyís land. If she were to work late in the evenings, she had always preferred to spend the night in that village instead of coming back late in the evening. The maximum distance women said they traveled in search of employment was 15 kilometers. In slow seasons women were able to earn Rs.10 to 15 only after working six to eight hours in the field. In peak seasons, however, their wages would rise up to Rs.20 to 25. Women who were unable to leave the village for employment had to depend on traditional crafts. The income they were able to generate was not only meager but also irregular. For instance, a rally that required months of labor was normally sold for Rs.100 to 150 depending on the amount of work put into its creation.
Water and the Workload of Women
Women who could not otherwise leave the village without seeking the permission of males or elderly women in the family were primarily responsible for carrying water. The distance from which women had to carry water varied from two kilometers to ten kilometers. Groups of women determined the per capita water requirements for each family. In a village where women had to travel far for water, ten kilograms of water was used per day per family just for drinking and cooking. The women took clothes and utensils to the water site to wash them. In another village where women had to haul water from comparatively less distance, they carried water to the village to wash their utensils but still took their
families clothes to the water site to wash. ìFetching water was an additional responsibility that we were not prepared for,î reported the women. They had to carry water twice a day, which used to take at least two to three hours. For the most part, middle-aged women were responsible for bringing water. If young girls were instructed to fetch water they had to be accompanied by older married women. Although male members also shared responsibility for bringing water they never carried pots like the women. Instead, they used donkeys to carry the water. As mentioned earlier, water scarcity forced a considerable number of families to migrate to other villages. A few women in Khaku Macchi who experienced the migration used very strong words to describe their trauma. ìThis is the fate of the poor that they are devoid of leading a settled life,î one said. Ghulab Bibi, 55 years of age, reported that her family migrated to another village called Tando Qaiser at a distance of 12 kilometers to find work. She and her husband worked on somebody elseís land for 20 years. Then the land owner died and they had to come back to their village.
Women, Migration, and Social Issues
Migration trends showed that people migrated toward rural areas because they were unskilled labor and they were only able to find work in the rural areas. In addition, families thought that it would be relatively easy to return to their villages whenever the situation there improved. All the families who migrated reported that they had done so only because no opportunities for employment existed for them. Families who had any member employed, who had access to water (no matter how limited or polluted), and who were thus able to earn a living, never thought of moving out of their villages. In two villagesóAli Mohd Paryar and Hamid Mir Baharówhere there were brick kilns, women reported that during the water shortage they were even using accumulated saline water collected from the kiln runoff for cooking and drinking. Water scarcity forced people to lease land to Pathans and Afghans in order to build brick kilns. Beside causing destruction to the fertile land, the use of brick kilns caused many social problems. All the laborers working in the brick kilns were outsiders who settled in the village area. They were mostly Pathans, and mixing with the local people created friction since these groups had very different cultures. Local women feared that the Afghans might abduct their children, a result of a myth about Pathans and Afghans. Consequently, even children were not allowed to play together. The owners of brick kilns were quite influential, and in the case of a quarrel the police arrested local men twice. In many agriculture-based economies, people are considered an asset and larger families are preferred. This is often true even if conditions of extreme poverty are present. No single women reported using family planning methods. Reasons included the non-availability of even basic health facilities, no access to family planning methods, and a high mortality rate. In discussion groups of 20-30 women, almost 90 percent reported that they had lost three to four children each. In the village of Hamid Mir Bahar, parents preferred their sons to marry early in order to increase the number of working members in the family. Some males even described polygamy as useful in increasing the labor force for work in agriculture fields. In terms of the quality of water, women reported that they never had access to clean water. In the entire area, no water purification methods were used. In very few cases women strained water with their
duppatta or used potash alum. The poor quality of water also had severe implications for the communityís health and for women in particular. Women, especially those who were middle-aged and responsible for fetching water, complained of pain in the neck and shoulders. In some cases, women suffered drastic effects for carrying water on their heads such as baldness; some had depressed skulls.
Water and Health
The eyes and complexions of most of the women and children present at the meeting were quite pale. Some common health problems reported by the women were diarrhea, tuberculosis, hepatitis, still births, miscarriages, and thyroid, skin and eye problems. Thyroid problems were especially common. Fifteen women in Khaku Macchi were suffering from them, and three women were reported to have died. Stomach tumors amongst women was another common problem. Women attributed much of their suffering to water. Poor quality of water, social expectations, and work load also were reported to have severe implications on womenís reproductive health. Ms. Sharoo, 40 years of age, reported that she had seven still births and only one child in her family. The desire of her husband and elders in the family for a large family forced her to take the risk of being pregnant. It was a dreadful experience for her each time. In some cases, menís desire for larger families also led to their decision to get a second wife. In cases where women were infertile or had lost most of their infants, especially the male ones, men married a second wife. It was apparent that family planning programs could not be successful in these highpoverty, high-child mortality situations. Although water is now available at the villagersí door steps, it is extremely dirty, infested with a variety of worms and insects, and smelly because humans and animals use it for bathing. In societies such as Pakistan where patriarchal values produce severe imbalances in gender relations, the scarcity of a natural resource results in the further marginalization of half of the population, women.
Community Action for Access to Water
The Rahuki Canal, like tens of Indus basin irrigation canals, has been a victim of system failure and irrigation mismanagement. Farmers and communities were the primary victims. Farmers have been pressuring officials to improve the canal flow and restore the irrigation supply in the far-end area of the canal. Their most common strategy was to lobby the politicians and contact irrigation officials. The farmers have also been resorting to hunger strikes and demonstrations in other parts of the province. In the Rahuki area, the farmers were disorganized and a large number of fragmented, small settlements existed. These problems proved too difficult to overcome, thus lasting water improvements in the canal were not achieved.
Irrigation Improvement and Role of the Village Organization
Bhittai Welfare Association, a typical grassroots community based organization, was working in Jhando Khoso, one of the center command area villages of the canal. The CBO had been working in the village
for the last five years, since the late 1980s. Its main activities were distributing school uniforms to poor children and providing health services for the people of the village. The CBO has been working on these issues for three to four years before it became involved in irrigation and water resources work for the Rahuki Canal. Some of the farmers in the tail-end area approached the CBO and asked it to assist them in gaining access to irrigation water in the canal. The farmers appreciated the CBOís social-sector activities but identified the issue of irrigation water as critical. Some of the farmers said that they would not need the charity from CBO for their children and the village dispensary if they were able to bring water in the canal. The CBOís leaders took the farmers seriously and began to organize a long-term development plan. The CBO assisted the farmers in establishing the RTAA in 1992. The BWA and RTAA began to lobby irrigation officials for ensuring water flow in the canal tail-end areas. The lobbying included meetings with irrigation officials and writing letters to senior department people. The lobbying with the Irrigation Department proved ineffective since most of the farmers were small land owners and did not enjoy political or financial clout. The farmers and CBO approached the district administration in their struggle. The deputy commissioner ordered an inquiry into the irrigation water shortage. The inquiry report confirmed that the water shortage in the canal was due to unauthorized water use in the head area of the canal. It was reported that the officials were involved in water theft because the head-area farmers had bribed the officials in order to take more than their fair share. Despite the confirmation of the farmersí views through the district administrationís report, there was no improvement in the water flow of the canal. The third major activity involving lobbying work was the farmersí contact with the provincial irrigation minister. As a result of these lobbying efforts, the minister was forced to visit the canal site two times in 1993. Despite his firm orders and assurances to the farmers, no improvement in the irrigation canal in the Rahuki command area was made.
Irrigation Water as a Human Rights Issue
The farmers and CBO leaders were disappointed because they could not get justice from official channels. A joint general body meeting of the CBO and farmersí representatives was organized in late 1993. Further options for their lobbying work were discussed. CBO leader Hakeem Khoso explained the option of approaching the District Human Rights Court; he got the farmers approval to take the issue to the human rights court. Before doing so, the farmers and CBO started a campaign to collect evidence, which involved taking photographs of barren fields in the tail-end areas, of unauthorized lift machines, and of tampered water course outlets in the head command area of the canal. The court proceedings continued for three months and resulted in a major victory for the farmers. The court ordered officials to carry out the major desiltation operation of the canal and to do away with the tampered water courses as well as the unauthorized lift machines. The court also ordered that a minimum flow of eight cubic meters per second should be restored at all costs. The farmers and CBO were vigilant enough to ensure that officials enforced the court ruling, which resulted in major desiltation work on the canal and control over the tampered water courses. The enforcement of the court orders made water available in some of the areas that had been denied it for more than 20 years. The court ruling and the consolidation work
Since the court action and the irrigation improvement, the CBO has assisted the work of the farmersí organization. Oxfam helped the CBO reconstruct all 50 water course outlets that had disintegrated over the years. The outlet reconstruction work was aimed at consolidating the gains made through the court action. The construction of the outlets was carried out in 1994, which has helped to sustain the irrigation improvement in the tail-end areas. The CBO has also received funding by the Canadian International Development Agency Program Support Unit. This money helped small land owners to rehabilitate the orchards that had been destroyed by water shortages during the last two decades. The work of the farmers and CBO over the last three years has resulted in the rehabilitation of more than 5,000 acres of land, giving livelihood opportunities to more than 800 farming families (Nizamani, 1995). Joint Irrigation Management Board The CBOís and the farmers work on Rahuki Canal has not only resulted in major material and livelihood gains to the resource-poor farmers, but it has also given them substantial empowerment opportunities. The CBO, with the assistance of the local member national assembly, has constituted a Joint Irrigation Management Board (JIMB). JIMB consists of two national and provincial assembly members; four farmers of Rahuki Canal (one farmer from each distinct command area, i.e. head, center, tail-end, and extreme tail-end areas); the executive engineer of the Irrigation Department, the Assistant Commissioner of the Revenue Department; two CBOs; IUCN; Oxfam; and a local journalist. The broad aim of the JIMB is to coordinate the activities of different stakeholders and to plan future irrigation management activities in a participatory way. To date, one board meeting has been convened.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The collaboration of farmers and the CBO on Rahuki Canal has proven that water (for irrigation and other purposes) is the most important resource for supporting healthy communities. Local people would participate and support resource management activities if the support institutions adopt an interactive, participatory approach to development. During the research and field work, water was found to be the most important factor in population dynamics. For small and resource-poor farmers, the lack of access to water meant barren soils and increased unemployment, resulting in greater poverty and migration to other areas. It placed further stress on the natural resources in resettled areas. The increased poverty and health hazards due to brick kilns further reduced the ability of poor people to cope with hardships in the tail-end area of the canal. The recommendations of IUCN Pakistanís Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Unit follow. They are based on the work with NGOs and grassroots groups on irrigation and water resource development in the plains and irrigation-area ecosystems of Pakistan. Irrigation Planning with Ecosystem and Livelihood Considerations Irrigation planning over the last hundred years has been marked by short-term considerations and inadequate livelihood and environmental considerations, particularly for the coastal and mountain ecosystems of the river basins. The planning and management work on irrigation schemes should be carried out with the long-term objectives of sustainable development and a holistic basin-wide view of natural resources.
Irrigation and Drinking Water Irrigation advocates have for far too long viewed irrigated water as an intermediate commodity for agricultural enterprises. The irrigation in the new settlement areas where the groundwater is saline is the source of water for drinking and other domestic uses for the communities. Irrigation management policies and new institutional organizations should reflect this subsistence use of water. Water Resource Development and Local Participation Irrigation and water resource development projects should be designed in active consultation with the communities in all directly and indirectly affected ecosystems. The people living in settlement and beneficiary areas, particularly in the plains, should be given more opportunities to play a meaningful role in improving the performance of irrigation and water resource development projects. Irrigation and Subsidies Irrigation projects should involve full cost recovery. The issue of irrigation subsidies should be dealt with carefully, and no subsidies should be provided that result in inefficient agricultural use of water. The cost recovery should focus on the amount of irrigation water used, i.e., the benefit accrued, and on the drainage surplus created by the particular agricultural activity. Irrigation and water conservation technologies In most of the societies, subsidies on water has resulted in inefficient allocation and use of this vital resource, denying the coastal communities of their historical rights over freshwater resources. Water conservation technologies along with the policy reforms should be introduced to enable the agricultural water users to buy these technologies by surrendering their bulk water rights. Doing so would make efficient use of water and soil resources.
Hassan, Arif, June 30,1992. ìDeath of Indus Delta,î In Down to Earth. Nairobi, Kenya: RIOD. IIMI (International Irrigation Management Institute), October 1995. Inception Report for Farmersí Participatory Irrigation Management Project. Colombo, Sri Lanka: IIMI. IUCN (World Conservation Union), Pakistan. 1991. Korangi ecosystem project. Issue Paper No. 1. Geneva: IUCN. IUCN, 1989. Water: Pakistan Fact Sheet. Geneva: IUCN. Kirmani, S.S., 1992. Working Paper on Policy and Management Issues In Water Sector Investment Plan. Volume 1. Islamabad, Pakistan: Government of Pakistan. Nizamani, Aijaz, December, 1995. ìBlazing a Trail,î In The Way Ahead. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Government of Pakistan, 1992. Pakistan National Conservation Strategy, 1992. Islamabad, Pakistan:
Government of Pakistan. PAI (Population Action International) Population and Environment Program, 1993. Sustaining the Water. Washington, DC: Population Action International. Postel, Sandra, May/June 1995. ìWhere have all the rivers gone?î World Watch. P. 9. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute. The World Bank, 1992. Irrigation Planning with Environmental Consideration. Technical Paper No. 166. Washington, DC: World Bank. The World Bank, 1996. World Development Report. 1995. Washington, DC: World Bank.
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