Groundwater-regulation-governance-management nexus: A case study from Punjab Pakistan

Ghulam Zakir Hassan, Catherine Allan, J F Punthakey, Michael Mitchell, Saleem Akhtar

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


Groundwater is key for societies that depend on irrigated agriculture for their food and fibre. Humanity is using water that has been stored underground for millennia and which cannot be easily replenished. An estimate from 2010 suggests global extraction of groundwater from aquifers is 982 km3 per year, with the agricultural sector using 70%. Pakistan is the 4th largest user of groundwater, with annual extraction of around 65 km3. Feeding Pakistan’s growing population, currently at 208 million, is moving the country’s status from water-stressed to water-scarce. The aquifer underlying the Indus Basin in Pakistan, one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world, caters for drinking, industrial, commercial water needs of Pakistan, and especially irrigated agriculture, which uses around 90% of pumped groundwater. This groundwater is estimated to contribute 40-45% of Pakistan’s irrigation water requirements. As groundwater is a hidden, common pool resource, its governance has faced socio-political challenges for centuries, but the need for improving institutional frameworks is becoming urgent. This paper traces the development of institutional and regulatory frameworks in Pakistan’s Punjab province, from the Canal and Drainage Act (1873) to the National Water Policy (2018) and the Punjab Water Policy (2019). It introduces findings from a current ACIAR funded project that is using case studies to explore how to improve groundwater management for enhanced farming family livelihoods.
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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