WATER SECURITY FOR PAKISTAN
Water security has emerged as an impediment to sustainable development in Pakistan. Reliable drinking water is accessible to less than 15% of the population, inadequate sanitation contributes to preventable waterborne diseases leading to a child’s death every two minutes, and inefficient management of water leads to losses greater than 50%. To forge solutions to these and other challenges inhibiting education, health, and stability in Pakistan, USAID formed in 2015 a strategic partnership between the University of Utah (UU) in the United States and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) in Pakistan. This partnership is a nexus of higher education, government, business, and communities elevating water research to effectively guide sustainable development policy.
The mission of the US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) is to help foster Pakistan’s water security through collaborative and applied research, innovations in curriculum and technology, technical training, leadership, policy development, gender equity, and advocacy. The USPCAS-W leverages the strengths of each partner. The UU Water Center brings expertise in trans-disciplinary water research, global engagement, technology and venture commercialization, and broad faculty development experience. MUET brings the water sector network, curriculum, and community interface to the collaboration.
- Safe and reliable drinking water and sanitation systems
- Improved performance of water and wastewater utilities
- Effective wastewater treatment, water quality protection, and water-related ecosystem restoration
- Efficient water use leading to greater productivity and prosperity
- Resilient and sustainable water management reversing groundwater depletion, mitigating water scarcity, and reducing flood impacts
The USPCAS-W’s strategy taps the potential of higher education in Pakistan to create innovations in research and education, building the capacity of individuals and institutions to solve real world problems. Renowned water experts from the University of Utah and supporting institutions including Colorado State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and City College of New York are partnered with faculty from MUET, to form trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural research teams, facilitate student and faculty exchanges, and empower water Communities-of-Practice. USPCAS-W employs a train-the-trainer philosophy to build capacity of the partnering institutions so they can support, through an escalating process, capacity building at other institutions.
A core objective of the USPCAS-W is to enable individuals and institutions in Pakistan to effectively solve their own local water security challenges. We are fulfilling this objective through technical and professional training programs, modernized water-related curriculum and teaching, mentoring practices, and faculty and student experiential exchange programs.
Through a stakeholder co-creation process, USPCAS-W is achieving the goal of implementing an applied research program to make the work of the higher education community useful and relevant to industry, governments, and local communities in addressing the challenges of water security. The Center’s approach merges engineering, economics, science, public policy, human health, and the law.
Water security issues disproportionately affect women and children. USPCAS-W is working to incorporate women in the process to create the solutions to Pakistan’s water security challenges. This involves the implementation of a Gender Equity Plan at MUET that recruits women into the fields of engineering and technology, and serves as a model of inclusion and empowerment.
- Enrolled more than 90 graduate students and hosted more than 40 semester exchanges
- Initiated four graduate degree programs
- Awarded more than 10 research seed grants
- Conducted on average three training missions to Pakistan per year
- Launched three multi-institution research projects