Multiple risks and threats exist from climate change. The greatest threat is that it can escalate the impacts of many problems the world is facing due to unsustainable development. With its growing population, Pakistan is already a water scarce country, and climate change may further reduce the water availability. A key reason is Pakistan’s reliance of its source of freshwater supply for use in its agro based economy.

Water originates from rainfall and melted snow in the mountainous regions of Pakistan. The natural process of water flows from the mountainous to the coastal region replenishing the ground water supplies of Pakistan as well as serving the agricultural regions flowing out to the sea at the Kotri barrage.  If the water quality, quantity or flow rate is affected in anyway upstream it may have an impact on freshwater outputs downstream.

The impact of climate change coupled with unplanned development and deforestation could prove to be disastrous for Pakistan.  Forest cover has decreased dramatically in the northern regions of the country. This has been followed by soil degradation and in many instances a barren rocky landscape has been left behind.  The natural process of water flows have been disrupted in the watersheds and could be further aggravated with the changing weather patterns associated with climate change.

To mitigate the impacts of climate change, Pakistan’s National Climate Change Strategy calls to “promote integrated watershed management including ecological conservation practices in uphill watersheds”. Integrated watershed management recognizes the balances between ecosystem, community and economic health as well as the needs of the diverse stakeholders on land and water.

The advantages for applying integrated water shed management are multifold. It can provide a framework for identifying the roots of many of the problems specific to the locations. The reasons for deforestation could have been livelihood generation or fuel for heating and cooking.  It can also determine a mode for collective action on a number of fronts: identifying the conservation measures to be undertaken; awareness raising and capacity building of the local communities; policing and governance and promoting alternate practices.

WWF-P initiated an integrated watershed management (IWM) project in Ayubia National Park in 2008 with Coca-Cola Pakistan. The Ayubia National Park (ANP) is spread over 3,312 hectares in the Galliat region in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is a part of the Western Himalayan Ecoregion. The catchment area of the Western Himalayas Eco-region is responsible for the stream flow of 70 - 80% water to the Indus River.

Previously, unsustainable land management practices had lead to deforestation, water shortage and flash floods in the region.  The Coca-Cola Company’s environmental goals in water stewardship include ensuring healthy, resilient freshwater systems through conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund in 11 key regions of the world. The project in Ayubia National Park was established to rehabilitate the watershed and has achieved remarkable results.   

Project works have reinstated groundwater recharge through reforestation and soil restoration. Through increasing the vegetation cover and various land rehabilitation activities the project has been calculated to have recharged around 560 million liters of rainwater to the groundwater and has reduced the loss of top soil by stabilizing 1,381.74 m3 of sediments. More than 140,000 indigenous trees have been planted, inclusive of 15,000 fruit trees. The afforestation campaign has supported conservation of 130 hectares of land. In line with this, local communities have been granted more than 500 fuel efficient stoves that use solar power, and this was a well-devised strategy to create awareness among the locals for a sense of shared value creation and nature's cycle; energy conservation. on student level, nature clubs have been formulated in 50 schools, where teachers and students are motivated to conduct monthly campaigns for nature preservation and animal rights. 

The infographic below covers some of the ANP project stats:

ayubia-national-park



An integrated approach in watershed management requires a multi stakeholder strategy to management. A vast group of stakeholders are seen to work together in this project:  The Coca Cola Foundation; Coca-Cola Pakistan; WWF; community organization; government; religious leaders; academia and even tourists.  Each stakeholder plays a complementary role in the project.

The back bone of the project is based on community empowerment. This has been done by raising awareness and community mobilization.  The project organizes forums and meetings where communities meet to discuss their issues. Community organizations have been formed to carry out many of the project interventions. The 100+ women organizations formed have grown to have a heightened sense of ownership about the project, facilitated with vocational training.  In addressing the reasons for deforestation, many community issues have also been understood and linkages formed between the communities, government bodies and other stakeholders.

Of particular interest is the role of women in the project.  The project has learned from the day to day activities of women to involve them. Women have traditionally been involved in subsistence farming and fetching water and firewood for cooking.  Rainwater harvesting as well as the installation of pipelines and fuel efficient stoves have improved living standards by reducing the burden on women.  In the course of the years of the project, the women organizations formed have been trained and now assist in providing training and awareness to women for kitchen gardening, running nurseries for tree saplings and rearing poultry – which are all a source of alternate livelihood.

The Ayubia National Park attracts a lot of visitors. Tourists leave behind waste which if left uncollected - is not only harmful to health and the environment, but it also takes away the beauty and value as a tourist spot.  A recently added goal to the project has been the development of a “Solid Waste Management Plan” with the Galliat Development Authority. Waste is now being collected in bins and transported to the solid waste disposal site in Abbotabad. Other goals for improving health include the protection of streams being used as drinking water and instilling general sanitation practices.

In order to manage freshwater availability there is a need for policy to take a mountain to reef approach. A very salient aspect of the project is the objective to conduct research through academic institutions on the impacts of the project. This is not only important to measure the impacts and identify the solutions to the issues of ANP, but also to the country as a whole which would benefit from systemic data collection to feed into policy development for future water management.

The video below covers the life and success stories of ANP Project beneficiaries:



 

The collaboration of Coca-Cola Pakistan with World Wildlife Fund in Pakistan shows the positive role corporate organizations can play in supporting sustainable development.   In the long run, these initiatives can be regarded as investments as focusing on important social and environmental issues today will save vital resources for both society and the corporate organizations to use in the future. The integrated approach shown in this project will also enable both The Coca-Cola Company and society to be in a better position to adapting to climate change in the future.