Groundwater and livelihood- a case study from Indus River Basin in Pakistan

Shahid Saleem, Saleem Akhtar, J.F. Punthakey, Ghulam Zakir-Hassan, Ghulam Shabir

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In Pakistan, irrigated agriculture contributes about 90% of food production. Currently, an insufficient supply of canal water- due to increasing cropping intensities from 68% in 1947 to more than 150% in the province- has resulted in overexploitation of groundwater to meet more than 50% of water demand for irrigation. The development of tubewells is highly uneven and shows considerable variations from place to place and has started putting stress on the aquifer in the form of excessive draw-down and deterioration of groundwater quality in some parts of the Province. To address adverse situations of groundwater utilization and to manage long-term sustainability of groundwater resources, a project LWR- 036/2015 titled “Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan” funded by ACIAR has been executed in Pakistan and is near completion. This paper encapsulates the Punjab component of the project which has been conducted in the Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC) command area in the Indus River Basin (IRB). The aim of the project was to build skills, knowledge, and confidence of researchers, farmers, farming communities and to install and operate different scientific tools to monitor and model the sustainable management of groundwater to enhance agricultural productivity and farming livelihood. The project provided unique opportunities like involving communities by establishing stakeholders’ forums; building capacity; awareness-raising; networking and teamwork at national, international, and local levels; co-inquiry and co-design; development of web-based tools; groundwater modeling; socio-economic modeling; on-ground interventions for water conservation; and installation of loggers for scientific and reliable monitoring. This paper shares the innovative lessons learned and experiences gained from various interventions under the project. It has been found that the installation of scientific tools, development, and calibration of models, taking the communities on board, not only enhanced the capacity of farmers for groundwater management but also helped them to improve agriculture productivity leading towards sustainable livelihood.
Keywords: groundwater, livelihood, Indus River Basin, Punjab, Pakistan
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2021


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