The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) is testing out new digital and more precise mechanisms under the Water Accord Apportionment Tool (WAA-Tool) for sharing of water to the provinces. A software tool was developed over a period of two years by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at the joint request of the Ministry of Water Resources, Irsa, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), provincial irrigation departments (PIDs) and the Australian government.
The software is said to be more transparent in allowing the water regulator, PIDs and Wapda to have their seasonal water planning as it follows more scientific trends of a repeatable process, providing transparency and consistency in seasonal water allocation.
The digitisation of water disbursal is certainly ambitious and requires to be expanded with a lot of funds. Yet it is a necessary step. The water crisis in Pakistan should not be underestimated—according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan is the third most affected country in terms of water scarcity. Water scarcity is an existential challenge for Pakistan as it has a direct bearing on food security.
A big challenge in solving the water crisis has been settling provincial conflicts with water, with Sindh voicing the most displeasure at not being accorded its fair share of water. A lot of the issues between the provinces stem from the interpretation of the interprovincial Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) of 1991 and its operational plan, or rather, the lack of one. In these respects, more transparency in water disbursal mechanisms is a must. Having more digital and efficient methodologies to estimate the need of water for the provinces would make it easier to get provincial approval for the sharing of water, and the data collected through such scientific methods can be used to perfect the system.