Community involvement in water management in Punjab, Pakistan: A strategy to sustainability of livelihoods of farmers

Saira Akhtar, Muhammad Zeeshan, Catherine Allan, Michael Mitchell

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


Despite being home to the world’s largest irrigation system Pakistan’s Indus Basin is unable to satisfy the demands of an intensifying agricultural economy. The persistent pressure on canal water, and its failure to adequately deliver, is pushing irrigators to increasingly pump groundwater. Uncontrolled extractions have drastically lowered water tables and is leading to a deterioration in groundwater quality. High yielding crop varieties and increased cropping intensity is seen as the only way forward for a growing population and economy, but this is escalating pressure on groundwater resources. The study presented here focuses on water conservation and enhancement of farmers’ livelihood. A co-inquiry method was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the local context in two case study areas. Each case study focused on one of the Indus Basin’s canal distributaries to understand changing groundwater use and water conservation patterns along the length of the distributary. Despite incentives to adopt water efficient irrigation methods, costs of maintenance and scarcity of skilled labour refrain uptake. Even though farmers are aware of the need to conserve water, low cost supply and subsidised electricity encourage inefficient water use practices, with flood irrigation still the main method used on farm. The future is also uncertain with rural youth preferring to leave farms and secure employment elsewhere. Gender also plays a role, as women prefer to irrigate with the more readily accessible groundwater for vegetable growing and herding. They are also responsible for domestic use of water. Women have the potential to play a vibrant role in encouraging water conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
EventAustralasian Groundwater Conference - Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 24 Nov 201927 Nov 2019


ConferenceAustralasian Groundwater Conference
Abbreviated titleGroundwater in a changing world
Internet address


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