Coming Up Sun 6:00 PM  AEDT
Coming Up Live in 
Urdu radio

How an Australian course is inspiring women in Pakistan to improve water management

Maria Saeed hopes to implement the learnings from the Australian water course in Pakistan. Source: Maria Saeed

Griffith University has run a course for Pakistani professionals to enhance their understanding of the better use of water.

Maria Saeed works for the Punjab Irrigation Department which looks after the water supply for Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, which has a population of more than 110 million people.

A civil engineer by profession, her aim is to improve lives through the “efficient use of water” in agriculture and other industries.

“Farmers don’t understand or lack of knowledge about water conservation," she said. "They will use groundwater but will not think about dropping levels of water in Pakistan.”

Pakistan is one of the most 'water-stressed' countries in the world. With a population of over 230 million, around 56 per cent of people in Pakistan have access to safe drinking water, while 30 per cent of diseases and 40 per cent of deaths are linked to the consumption of unclean water. 

“There is clearly more awareness in Australia about the importance of water as a resource from the highest levels of water managers to farmers and the locals," she said.

"Communities are educated and understand what water management is and how to efficiently use water; this lacks in Pakistan."

Ms Saeed said in order to grow better produce, farmers in Pakistan opt for using groundwater if the water department tries to conserve water, especially in the case of rice.

Maria Saeed is an water management officer in the Punjab Irrigation Department in Pakistan.
Maria Saeed is an water management officer in the Punjab Irrigation Department in Pakistan.
Maria Saeed

Ms Saeed has taken part in an Australia Awards Short Course provided by Griffith University that aims to enhance the knowledge of professionals from Pakistan.

Course facilitator Dr John Kirkwood said the purpose of the project is to bring Pakistani managers, academics and policy people to Australia, to look at how to manage water in a federated system.

“[Australia] has a lot of similarities to Pakistan in that we have a federal government and a number of state governments (in Pakistan it is provincial governments). In terms of water management, we have the Murray Darling River Basin flowing through the arid country and suffering some of the same issues that Pakistan is dealing with the Indus River Basin.

“The main issue is climate change in particular increase in aridity and in Australia’s case we are experiencing long periods of drought which is leading to increased aridity. There is also a governance issue where the river is governed by different jurisdictions, state and federal, and we need to ensure that there is the equitable flow of water to all the people who need it.” 

Farmers faced a tough time in recent years due to drought.
Dr John Kirkwood (R) talking to an Australian farmer about the challenges faced during the recent droughts.
Dr John Kirkwood

The course funded by the DFAT’s Australia Awards South Asia program invites the Pakistani professionals to visit Australia and gain the experience first-hand, but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course has moved to a virtual setting. The activities were presented via videos and online presentations.

“We decided that because the participants could not come here due to COVID-19, we decided we will do it as a virtual course. We have tried to present as much ground learning as we could and spoke to water managers, politicians and farmers, and users at the Murray Darling Basin,” Prof Kirkwood told SBS Urdu.

Other female participants in the course included Granaz Baloch from the University of Turbat and Daniya Khalid from Hisaar Foundation, while Khalid Iqbal represented Punjab’s Agriculture Extension Department and Muhammad Amir Khan participated from the Punjab Irrigation Department in Pakistan. 21 participants took part in the course, including 15 male and 6 female participants.


Common water challenges in Australia and Pakistan

Prof Kirkwood said both countries face similar issues of using water “more equitably, more efficiently and more effectively.”

“In most cases, water is used for agriculture so this means reducing the wastage of water through evaporation, using alternative sources of water, not relying on water directly from rivers and dams, looking at groundwater, looking at desalination, looking at recycled water and usage of diverse sources of water to use them more cleverly

Ms Saeed said the learnings from the course will help her educate other women in Pakistan who are "generally ignored" or not talked much about better water management.

However, she said more women are interested in education and the country might witness more women entering this field in the future.

She plans to create awareness for the efficient use of water in the community through short water courses, media interviews and promotional materials.

Catch the Urdu program every Wednesday and Sunday at 6 pm.

How to listen:

COVID 19 latest updates in Urdu:

SBS Urdu Facebook page:

Coming up next

How an Australian course is inspiring women in Pakistan to improve water management 08/01/2021 15:00 ...
Urdu News Wednesday 24 FEB 2021 24/02/2021 09:11 ...
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, how this student is coming to study ‘on-campus’ in Australia 24/02/2021 11:00 ...
SBS Urdu News 23 February 2021 23/02/2021 04:03 ...
A virtual Squash Summit - An attempt to bring back glory of a forgetten sport 23/02/2021 18:54 ...
Is the COVID-19 vaccine Halal? 22/02/2021 12:14 ...
SBS Urdu News 22 February 2021 22/02/2021 08:00 ...
Australia's vaccine rollout begins earlier - See who gets the first jab? 21/02/2021 05:53 ...
How Pakistani community connected with "Coming Together Quilt" project in South Australia 21/02/2021 08:16 ...
SBS Urdu News 19 February 2021 19/02/2021 08:00 ...
View More