In 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari took office with critical challenges at hand: a) making democratic institutions stronger and more transparent; b) stabilizing the country\'s economy; c) creating a government of inclusion, and d) combating extremism and creating a culture of moderation.
Preventing a Water Crisis
Pakistan is currently facing a growing water crisis. Up to one third of Pakistan\'s 175 million people lack safe drinking water and nearly 630 children die each day from diarrhea. According to WWF Pakistan, the water supply could drop to as little as 700 cubic metres per capita by 2025. The current demand has overwhelmed the supply for a number of reasons, including the absence of water-saving technology and wasteful agricultural techniques. Furthermore, there is little awareness about the importance of water conservation. The Government has been actively addressing these issues through development and reform projects.
Seeking New Technology - President Zardari has taken a personal interest in development of agriculture economy. This is reflected through his several visits to China along with a delegation of agriculture experts from Pakistan to see for themselves how China, a country of more than 1.25 billion people, is making fast advances in every field, including agriculture. Under an agreement with China, Pakistan would get access to modern technology like “drip irrigation”, a process of watering which requires less water. President Zardari has also sought a technology from China that converts seawater for irrigation.
Benazir Tractor Scheme - The Benazir Tractor Scheme was launched to provide tractors and agricultural machinery to farmers at a subsidized price. As many as 20,000 tractors will be distributed amongst the farmers at concessional rates. The Government is supplying high efficiency sprinklers and drip irrigation systems to farmers on a cost-sharing basis (Rs. 5,000/USD $58 per acre) to improve agricultural activity in areas of scarce water availability at the farm level.
Water Restoration and Awareness Campaign - Through the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the Government has been working on natural stream restoration projects to restore fresh water streams, nullahs and ravines in the Federal Capital. The major objective is cleaning of polluted streams and habitat recovery of the city\\\'s biodiversity, flora and fauna. The development of a restoration and pollution control strategy will act as a guideline in preparing an action plan for better waste water management to protect the quality of drinking water in Islamabad. The CDA, in collaboration with the Mass Awareness for Water Conservation and Development Project, launched a mass awareness campaign to conserve potable water. The aim was to create awareness among the people. It was financed jointly by the United Nations Development Program and the Government of Pakistan and executed by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources.
Agricultural Development Projects - The Government allocated an amount of Rs.18 billion (USD $209.8 million) for 51 projects for agricultural development in the public sector for 2009-2010 with the anticipation that the projectsw would help in attaining food and water security in the country. The Government has initiated Crop Maximization Project-II with the objective of helping the farming community to raise their crop production. The program is being run initially in 1,020 villages in all of the provinces and will be extended to more villages in the years to come. Also in order to ensure food security and to improve productivity of small farms, the Government is implementing a phased \'Special Program for Food Security and Productivity Enhancement of Small Farmers\' covering 13,000 villages by the year 2015 starting with 1,012 villages. This program will be executed in all the four provinces in addition to Azad Jammu & Kashmir, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan during the first phase at a cost of Rs.8.013 billion (USD $93.4 million).
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APRIL 25, 2011
As a nation, we face challenges, some of them undeniably tough, like the threat of extremism, a troubled economy, a...