NWRN to suggest national water policy by consolidating relevant research

HYDERABAD: The National Water Research Network (NWRN) will consolidate the existing water research work, validate water research data and suggest for national water policy in Pakistan.

According to a press release issued here on Tuesday, it was informed in the meeting of National Water Research Network (NWRN) held at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro.

The Vice Chancellor Mehran University Dr. Mohammad Aslam Uqaili said that universities were not only to produce the graduates but to work on the application of knowledge through applied research.

He briefed the participants regarding the establishment of NWRN and also shared aims and objectives of the U.S-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) established in Mehran University with the support of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr. Uqaili said USPCAS-W is going to be emerged as a world-class education and applied water research centre dedicated to resolving water crisis in Pakistan. He said the existing water data is neither reliable nor accessible however consolidated and validated water data for research will be made available through this network.

The USPCASW will serve as the secretariat of the NWRN to facilitate the development and functioning of the network which will pave way for the broader network called Pakistan Water Sustainability Network (PWSN) to be established to seek the sustainable solution to water challenges in Pakistan, Dr. Uqaili said.

He emphasizing on the future action plans of the network said that other relevant stakeholders will be invited to participate and strengthen the network as well as to come up with future action plans.

The Chief of Party USPCAS-W, University of Utah (UU) Dr. Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry, while delivering his presentation said that water policy in Pakistan needs an evidence-based expert opinion of water researchers for its effective implementation instead to make it hostage to the political consideration.

He said that USPCAS-W is developing specialized human capital, technologies, academia-industry collaboration and policy formulation to tackle the water issues of the country.

Dr. Chaudhry said that through this network, the parliamentarian, policy makers, planners, media and other relevant stakeholders will be sensitized on water-related issues.

Apart from the creating a shared understanding of water sector agenda, NWRN will support in achieving water SDG and will promote multi-disciplinary research in the water sector, he said.

He emphasized on bridging existing gap between science and technology in Pakistan and suggested the researchers and scientists to work on the technological solutions of the daily life problems pertaining to water-related issues.

Dr. Chaudhry suggested that industries and corporate sector must come forward to commercialize the technology. He assured full support on the part of the University of Utah, USA which is the partner of MUET in implementation of USPCAS-W.

The Chairman Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Dr. Mohammad Ashraf while delivering his presentation on, “Strengthening Research-Policy Interface in Water Sector”, said that there is no research agenda in the country whereas the research is done in isolation, catering the needs of individual or institutions and preferred for publication in impact journals instead of its impact on the society.

He has observed that there was a lack of collaboration among academia, research, industry and development agencies, which consequently affects outreaching strategy of research and transfer of technology to the relevant stakeholders.

Dr. Ashraf suggested that research-policy interface can be improved by reducing the existing gap among relevant stakeholders and research must be prioritized based on public needs which shall meet the international standards.

The professor at USPCA-W Mehran University Dr. Rasool Bux Mahar in his presentation on, “Building and Enhancing Business-Academia Linkages” said that productive interface between academia and industry, in the present times of knowledge economy, is a critical requirement.

He was of the view that there was a lack of trust between academia and industry linkages, whereas, the newly formed standing committee on Business-Academia collaboration on Water was trying its best to lessen the gap among stakeholders.

He said that prototypes for water treatment and recycling of grey water are being developed and MUET is planning to provide incubators for display of innovative products.

Another professor at USPCAS-W Mehran University Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal delivered his presentation on, “USPCAS-W Collaborative Research Program in context to SDGs” and suggested that this network may work on water SDG and targets by identifying the water research gaps and also by increasing water-use efficiency across all sectors especially in agriculture and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity.

The director USPCAS-W Dr. Bakhshal Khan Lashari said that way forward of the network was to provide the platform for joint research, central water database and to consolidate the water research.

He said that in order to strengthen the network, the membership drive and water advocacy campaign will be launched through USPCAS-W to sensitize the stakeholders and groups consisting of parliamentarian, media, research and development organizations, water industry, civil society organization will be formed to cater the needs of water related researchers. Among others, Dr. Tauha Hussain Ali, Pro-Vice Chancellor MUET; Dr. Qazi Tallat, Deputy Energy Advisor, Federal Ministry of Water and Power; Prof. Dr. Mohammad Ashiq Kharal, Director CEWRE, UET Lahore; Prof. Dr. Hamza Farooq Gabriel, Director Regional Center NUST Islamabad; Dr. Mohammad Arshad, University of Agriculture Faisalabad; Prof. Dr. Tahir Sarwar, University of Agriculture Peshawar; Dr. Shafqar Eijaz, Director NED University Karachi; Imdad Hussain Khoso from Lasbella University Uthal; Iqtidar Hussain from Karakoram International University, Gilgit; Haris Akram Bhatti and Dr. Kamran Ansari Deputy Director USPCAS-W also participated in the meeting.

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