GB to get new irrigation project aimed at ensuring food security


SKARDU: Aiming at irrigating the mountainous and scenic Tholdi village of Khaplu district of Gilgit Baltistan (GB), the Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization (MGPO) is all set to launch an another irrigation project in the area at a cost of around Rs16.35 million to ensure food security and help people who have been facing challenges posed by climate change.

To execute the project, the Coca-Cola Foundation has approved a sum of Rs13.2 million while the remaining Rs3.157 million will be contributed by the community itself.

The Coca-Cola Foundation had joined hands with MGPO in the year 2016 to carry out different projects under its “New World Programme” aimed at need-based and demand-driven services to build resilience and reduce vulnerability in the Baltistan division.

The foundation has sponsored three phases of this project where phase 1 had been successfully completed in Siksa village benefitting almost 4,000 people. It had replenished 5.05 billion litres of water per annum back to nature and community.

A delegation of environmental journalists belong to Environmental Journalists Association of Pakistan (EJAP), during the visit of several projects of MGPO in the GB region, was briefed that under the same programme, MGPO had completed a long-piped irrigation water supply scheme in Siksa of 15,200 running feet (RFT) to irrigate 354.099 hectares land provided with the reliable source of water for agriculture activities.

Piped-irrigation method was used to deliver water to target areas. The method was used to ensure the efficiency of transmission and maintain the quality of water. The rugged terrain and harsh climate do not allow for surface channels. Pipes were laid underground to ensure insulation and protection from extreme temperature variation.

Due to precipitation changes, water reliability and amplitude had become major issues. The existing cultivated fields were not receiving water on time and quantity of water and flow pattern was affecting agriculture productivity. Additional land has also been brought under cultivation giving communities an opportunity to expand social economic activities that will support livelihood and protect the environment.

The benefits from this project, and the one at Gole, are manifold and range from social uplift to economic gain, to women empowerment and environmental protection. Secure and reliable supply of water has lessened the burden on local women and children by also ensuring food security, improved health indicators, increased income and contributed to savings. Encroachment on habitat and degradation of the environment has also decreased. Around 850 households now have access to safe water for domestic use.

Water points locations were decided in consultation with the community based on their needs.  These water points are within walking distance of 5-10 meters from houses. The drinking water supply has improved domestic consumption of water which has been provided from a freshwater spring source.  This supply is now the primary source and has the capacity of 1.5 cusecs. It is sufficient to meet per person domestic needs of families in Siksa.