Saturday, August 21, 2010

University Research:Water & Environment

In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned about water and environment sector being capable of engaging the energies of our universities which are currently either idle or engage themselves on research subjects with no relevance or dividend for this poor nation.I further wrote that hundreds of Phd dissertations and research papers can be produce on locally relevant research.Fortunately I have come across a few passages in a landmark report of the World Bank on Pakistan's water problems.I would urge my readers to please go through the following rather carefully and see for themselves how we and our universities are wasting their efforts and resources in engaging in wasteful and irrelevant research.This is only water and environment.Similar opportunities can be identified in other sectors as well.Let me reproduce in the following,what the report says:

The Indus basin is a single,massive,highly complex interconnected ecosystem,upon which man has left a huge foot print.When a dam or a barrage is constructed,the water and sediment cycles are changed dramatically.In a system so massive and complex,the generation and smart use of knowledge are the keys to adaptive management.But there has been very little investment in Pakistan in building this knowledge base ....The country is literally flying blind into a very hazardous future.

The bottom line is that Pakistan needs to build a strong natural,engineering,and social scientific cadre capable of working with all users in defining the problem and developing solutions,monitoring , assessing and adjusting.This is a capacity which requires a wide range of disciplines_ those necessary for understanding climate ,river geomorphology.hydraulic structures,surface water and ground water hydrology,limnology,water chemistry,sediment management,hydraulics,soil sciences,terrestrial and coastal ecosystems,agronomy,plant physiology,industrial organisation,conflict management,politics ,economics and financing.

It will require an expansive and long term human resource strategy which will update the skills of a formidable capacity which exists in Pakistan , but will also strengthen the capacity of the universities and other scientific and training institutions to produce high quality applied research.

Let us try to build our research agenda in one of the sectors, keeping in view the thoughts as indicated in the above,which were conceived by a very eminent group of local and foreign scientists who have had the opportunity to have a closer look into our problems.

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