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One of the greatest challenges of our times is the sustainable management of water. For Pakistan, a country that is one of the top 10 to be affected by climate change impact, this is a special concern. Here, every drop counts, and every effort to save it matters!

In Pakistan, water issues prevail as a familiar concern, attributed to the mismanagement of this valuable resource rather than its actual scarcity. Despite being overlooked in global security concerns, the pressing reality is that water, the essence of life, requires urgent attention and action in developing nations like Pakistan.

The inefficiency in water management is primarily a result of inadequate policies and outdated agricultural practices. These practices include poor farming techniques and crop combinations, leading to an alarming waste of water resources. The grim truth is that water surrounds us abundantly, but our ability to use it effectively is slipping away.

Amidst the troubling reality of water mismanagement, inefficient agricultural practices have become a pressing global concern. According to the FAO, agriculture alone accounts for over 70% of global water withdrawal. In Pakistan, the agricultural sector further adds to the concern, consuming over 90% of the country's freshwater resources, with an alarming 50% wasted due to mismanagement.

Understanding the significance of water as a vital resource calls for a joint endeavor. While industries consume less water than agriculture, an interesting dimension emerges – companies relying on agricultural raw materials must also take responsibility for reducing water wastage.

As a responsible water steward, Nestlé Pakistan, is focusing majority of its sustainability efforts on protecting, restoring, and renewing water sources. In 2017, we launched our flagship initiative on water stewardship, Caring for Water-Pakistan (C4W-Pakistan), which focuses on three areas:

Agriculture, Communities and Factories. In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, C4W-Pakistan encourages collective action and brings different partners together to discuss and find solutions for the existing water challenges faced by Pakistan.

Taking another step forward, in 2021, Nestlé launched the Waters Pledge to accelerate water stewardship efforts. Under this Pledge, our Waters Business committed to lead the regeneration of the water cycle to help create a positive water impact everywhere it operates by 2025.

As a responsible company, we use our scale, resources, and expertise, to change lives and contribute towards a healthier planet. Through C4W-Pakistan, we positively impact the lives of farmers, people and the communities we work with and in. Find out how we are impacting their lives.

Innovative Irrigation Solutions for Farmers

Agriculture is the most water intense sector in Pakistan, using over 90% of the country’s water resources according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Of this, over 50% is wasted due to mismanagement including through dependence on flood irrigation. To play its role as a good water steward, Nestlé Pakistan works closely with farmers to promote the use of innovative irrigation solutions for a water-wise world. One of these innovative interventions is the installation of drip irrigation across 139 acres in Punjab, with expansion in Sindh underway.

Exploring Technological Innovations in Sustainable Water Management with LUMS

Nestlé Pakistan and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) are working together to explore technological innovations in sustainable water management. While working closely with Water, Information and Technology (WIT) at LUMS, Nestlé has developed low-cost smart soil moisture sensors. Currently operational across 548 acres in Punjab, these sensors read the moisture level of the soil and send data updates to the farmer on which areas they should irrigate and how much.

Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standards at our Factories

AWS is an international standard for freshwater resources that guides organizations to manage water by

taking site and catchment relevant initiatives through stakeholder inclusive processes.

Nestlé Pakistan’s Sheikhupura Factory became the first site in Pakistan as well as the first Nestlé site worldwide to be awarded the AWS Certification in 2017. Our factories in Islamabad, Kabirwala, and Karachi followed suite and were certified in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.

Cleaning and Safe Drinking Water for Communities

While understanding our own water consumption and its impact is important to us, the communities where we operate are of equal value to us. Therefore, we have developed 7 Clean and Safe Drinking Water Facilities that provide free access to clean drinking water to 72,000 people daily.

These are just a few of the beneficiaries of our Caring for Water-Pakistan initiative. We are currently expanding our interventions to realize our Waters Pledge.

These efforts are in line with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, 13 and 17 – Partnerships for the Goals.

Since more than 90% of Pakistan’s water resources are used in agriculture, farmers need assistance to shift to drip irrigation to reduce water wastage, and stakeholders need to work collectively towards innovative solutions by linking together practice, science, policy and decision-making.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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