National Water Research Network (NWRN) will consolidate the existing water research work, validate water research data and suggest for national water policy in Pakistan, panelists at the National Water Research Network (NWRN) held at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro said.
On this occasion, Vice Chancellor MUET Dr. Mohammad Aslam Uqaili said that Universities are 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 Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) established in MUET 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 center 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.
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 added.
He emphasised on the future action plans of the network said that other relevant stakeholders will be invited to participate and strengthen the network as to come up with future action plans.
Dr. Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry, Chief of Party USPCAS-W, University of Utah (UU), while delivering his presentation said that water policy has become hostage to the political consideration in Pakistan, whereas, the policy needs an evidence-based expert opinion of water researchers for its effective implementation.
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 sensitised 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, Dr. Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry added. 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.
Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) while delivering his presentation on, “Strengthening Research-Policy Interface in Water Sector”, said that there is no national research agenda in Pakistan whereas the research in the country 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 said there is 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.
Dr. Rasool Bux Mahar, a professor at USPCA-W MUET, while delivering 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 said there is a lack of trust between academia and industry linkages, whereas, the newly formed standing committee on Business-Academia Collaboration on Water is trying its best to lessen the gap among stakeholders. He further said that prototypes for water treatment and recycling of greywater are being developed and MUET is planning to provide incubators for display of innovative products.
Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal, a professor at USPCAS-W MUET, 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.
Dr. Bakhshal Khan Lashari while concluding the meeting and said that way forward of this network is 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.
Dr. Tauha Hussain Ali, Pro-Vice Chancellor MUET, Dr. Qazi Tallat, Deputy Energy Advisor, Ministry of Water and Power, Government of Pakistan, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ashiq Kharal, Director CEWRE, UET Lahore, Prof. Dr. Hamza Farooq Gabriel, Director Regional Center NUST Islamabad, Dr. Muhammad Arshad, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Prof. Dr. Tahir Sarwar, University of Agriculture Peshawar, Dr. Shafqar Eijaz, Director NED University Karachi, Mr. Imdad Hussain Khoso from Lasbella University Uthal, Mr. Iqtidar Hussain from Karakoram International University, Gilgit, Mr. Haris Akram Bhatti, Dr. Kamran Ansari, Deputy Director USPCAS-W and others participated in the meeting.
Sahib Khan Bhand
Communication, Media and Outreach Expert
Jamshoro – Sindh, Pakistan