Have you noticed that Pakistan has more extreme weather events than it did some years ago? That droughts and floods have become more frequent? Did you know that per capita availability of water in Pakistan has gone down so sharply, that Pakistan is now classified as a water scarce country? Did you know that the poor in the city of Karachi pay 12 times more for water than those who get water supplied through pipes, and that less than 2% of the sewerage and effluents generated in Pakistan are actually treated before being dumped into rivers, canals, lakes and the sea? Is there anyone out there who cares?
Hisaar Foundation â€“ a Foundation for Water, Food and Livelihood Security, does care and has been working on these issues since 2000. â€œWe believe that the rational management and conservation of water, long-term food security and lack of opportunity for all Pakistanis, 80% of whom rely on agricultural production to earn their livelihoods, are Pakistanâ€™s biggest problems today. However there is little critical thinking or forward planning to address these issues by the government, civil society organisations and the media,â€ says Simi Kamal, Founder and Chairperson of Hisaar Foundation. Development and success of water conservation programmes requires the involvement of all stakeholders, including policy-makers, service-providers, consumers, media, community leaders and so on. The media has a crucial role to play in educating the public and raising awareness about such issues.
Hisaar Foundation, a non-profit organisation, originated in response to the severe drought that gripped parts of Pakistan in 1999 and 2000. Simi Kamal gathered a small group of citizens in Karachi and launched the Pakistan Drought Appeal. This campaign raised Rupees one crore worth of food, water, medicines and other essentials in cash and kind within three days, and had collected a monthâ€™s supply of food within 48 hours of its launch. During the early phases of its work, the Foundation engaged in two other major fundraising campaigns and hands-on relief and rehabilitation programmes (Citizenâ€™s Appeal for Afghan Refugees and Appeal for Earthquake Relief and Rehabilitation), and continues to raise funds for causes related to helping people affected by climate change, earthquakes, water-related calamities such as droughts, food shortages and other situations related to survival and livelihood.
The Foundation has now developed into a unique institution that provides a platform for bringing together issues of water, food and livelihood and seeks solutions pertinent to dealing with this water-food-livelihood nexus in an integrated manner.
Its vision is a Pakistan where water is judiciously used, food is sufficiently produced, and people are able to earn livelihoods with dignity. Its organisational goals include advocacy and awareness-raising among all sectors of the society about conservation, management and recycling of water, better agricultural practices and less wasteful consumption of food and water. Hisaar Foundation is also working on solutions within the geographical, environmental and social framework of Pakistan that meet the needs of people while preventing long-term depletion of water and food resources.
Within this framework the foundation runs the following initiatives and programmes, with a special focus on women and children:
Women and Water Network
Women Support Programme in earthquake affected areas of Azad Kashmir
Karachi Water Partnership
BioSand Filter Programme (for low-cost safe drinking water at point of consumption)
Water Systems in drought prone areas of Thar
Livelihood Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Health Support Programme in Badin
Academic and Media Engagement, Orientation and Education Programme
The Foundation is also a member of several international water-related and civil society organisations and collaborates proactively with them for the promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management, water conservation and environmental issues. These include the Global Water Partnership, CIVICUS, Pakistan Water Partnership and Pani Pakistan.
Hisaar Foundation is not a foreign-donor funded service-delivery NGO that does typical project funding for aid money. Hisaar Foundation has a unique development model and it raises the bulk of its support from individuals and institutions in Pakistan. â€œWe have raised the rupee equivalent of approximately USD one million in cash and kind since 2000, the bulk of which has been contributed by the public in Karachi. This city has a heart of gold, and we will continue to raise support for our work from both individual and corporate citizens of Karachi. Increasingly we look to our work being supported through corporate social responsibility,â€ says Simi Kamal.
Hisaar Foundation is governed by its members and an elected Board of Governors led by a chairperson, all of whom give time to the foundationâ€™s work on a voluntary basis. Governors provide immense support and each programme has a separate programme committee headed by one of the governors. Management decisions are taken by the chief executive who is also currently working on a voluntary basis. This voluntary spirit and concrete contributions from members and governors is another unique feature of Hisaar Foundation. Currently, the Foundation is housed within the business offices of two council members, while legal, media, management and fundraising support is provided by the offices of four other council members and governors, all free of charge.
Hisaar Foundationâ€™s biggest and most challenging initiative to date is the Karachi Water Partnership (KWP). The project aims to support the development of an environment friendly Karachi with focus on safe water, conservation and management of sewage, industrial and solid waste. KWP was launched on 26th April, 2007, with an open call for partnership. â€œOur view is that water is every-oneâ€™s business, and each individual and group has a responsibility in conserving and managing water, sewerage and solid wastes, to make this city livable, and leave a legacy for our children that is not an environmental disaster,â€ says Simi Kamal.
This is the first initiative of its kind, where improving the environment of a city of 16 million people is being attempted to the building of a partnership that brings together government institutions, industries, corporate sector, municipal authorities, businesses, civil society organisations and individual citizens, all on the same platform of action. KWP serves as a catalyst for all these groups to come together and ensure a healthy, clean and green Karachi in the long-term.
To-date, KWP has over 200 partners, each of whom has made a contribution in cash, kind or time for promoting and actually carrying out the work of KWP. The initiatives and programmes run by the management committee and subcommittee members of KWP demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility. They have water saving and recycling systems and processes in their homes and offices, and promote these methods among other companies and institutions. KWP circulates guidelines in English and Urdu for conserving water in homes, offices and schools. Guidelines for industries and public spaces are being developed. KWP works closely with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and is in the process of initiating work with local government institutions.
Current projects of KWP include a school advocacy programme (including children becoming â€œwater detectivesâ€); an experi-mental BioSand filter programme; a public awareness campaign through print, film and broadcast media to inform all stakeholders of the seriousness of the water crisis; developing and promoting innovative and successful solutions for a coastal city; defining the role of different groups of citizens; providing citizen-based guidance; and an annual Water Forum.
Becoming a partner of the citywide multi-stakeholder KWP Forum has numerous benefits for companies and businesses. This forum can be used as a means to collectively disseminate knowledge and research related to solutions for water, sanitation and solid waste issues. Guidance and media support to promote water conservation and better water management can be obtained. Experts are also available to give talks, carry out water audits and give advice. There is an ongoing dialogue with the city government and the private sector. The KWP Forum provides an opportunity to a diverse group of stakeholders to share their valuable experiences.
For more information on Hisaar Foundation please see www.hisaar.org