Step Up for Institutionalization of Environmental Governance in FATA.

The influx of Afghan refugees during the last two decades and the displacement of population from the remote tribal areas enhanced the pressure on the vegetative cover in areas where the displaced temporarily settled.  The watersheds have been significantly degraded and in most cases reduced to bare rock. The result is that due to ecological changes, the soils have reduced water retention capacity, soil erosion has increased and the increased runoff is inflicting heavy damages on human life, property and village infrastructure. The ecological changes have also resulted in reduced recharge to local and regional aquifers and drying up of many springs, streams and perennial water courses. Due to lack of understanding of ecological dimensions, the projects formulated by the line departments and directorates do not take into consideration the effect and impact that projects would have on environment especially in the context of water.

Keeping in view the situation, IUCN proposed to undertake a medium term partnership with the FATA Secretariat and the Ministry of Climate Change (previously Ministry of Environment). In line with the strategic objectives of the FATA Sustainable Development Plan (SDP), the concept paper for the establishment of an Environment Cell was prepared by IUCN and approved at a high level meeting chaired by the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July 2007. In line with the above, the Water Governance in FATA (Environment Cell) project was launched by IUCN with the financial assistance of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The Environment Cell, FATA was established and made functional in December 2016 under a two year project “Water Governance in FATA” funded by SDC and implemented by IUCN Pakistan. It is not out of place to mention that the project was basically oriented towards improving governance in water. The project successfully completed its objectives and came to end in September 2017. All the key partners of the project, FATA Secretariat; SDC and IUCN Pakistan agreed on single point agenda to consolidate and institutionalize the gains of the project. It was in this spirit that Phase II of the Project was developed as “Consolidation/Institutionalization of Environment Cell in FATA”. The SDC is providing the required financial support for the phase II.

The phase II of the FATA Environmental Cell project was conceived to build on, consolidate and institutionalize the work done in phase I by providing technical assistance to and facilitate the FATA Secretariat and its line directorates in developing project proposals that contribute to building productive and resilient local communities in FATA and through institutionalizing environmental sustainability.

The three objectives of the project that will contribute to the above stated project purpose and overall goal include: (1) Strengthening and institutionalizing the Environment Cell in FATA Governance Structure on sustainable basis; (2) mainstreaming environmental impact assessments in various development sectors; and (3) strengthening capacities of relevant staff and institutions in environmental planning and management and gender equality in FATA. The project is now on-going and will complete in September 2018.

PHASE 1: Water Governance in FATA Project Successfully Completed

Through IUCN’s persistent efforts and the unwavering support of its partners, the two year project “Water Governance in FATA” concluded in 2017. As a result of the project’s great success, a second phase has been initiated. This phase will also be funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This Consolidation Phase aims to build on the outcomes of the first phase, by institutionalizing improved environmental planning and management in the FATA governance structure. This will ensure that the interventions carried out in the previous phase are firmly established and sustainable in the long run.

The project made significant achievements during 2017 in the technical capacity-building of FATA Secretariat staff both at the agency level and the Line Directorate. A Training Need Assessment was followed by the production of a comprehensive Capacity Development Plan, along with training material for staff in select departments of the FATA Secretariat. This material included Environmental Assessment (EA) guidelines and sector-specific checklists. Meanwhile, Line Directorate officials were trained in broader environmental governance; this involved introducing them to policy documents like the Pakistan Environment Policy, and to the various multilateral agreements pertaining to the environment which the Government of Pakistan has signed over the years. A handbook and manual for the development of environmentally safe and sustainable water resources in FATA has been developed to further aid Secretariat staff.

On the research front, the project has collaborated with the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) to carry out a series of studies on water quality standards. The four studies review existing water quality standards in KPK and formulate new ones; map surface and groundwater quality for seven tribal agencies; delineate and map the river basins and sub-basins of FATA; and classify the parameters related to environmental protection at the basin-sub-basin levels. The water governance project has achieved much in the way of supporting those who craft policy on the use of natural resources, by helping them incorporate water concerns into their development plans.

Despite being primarily involved with water governance, the project has also interacted with schools in the agencies where it was working, developing material on environmental awareness and water. Environmental clubs have been established in four model schools, two in boys and two in girls’ schools, in Khyber and Mohmand Agencies to provide a forum for students and teachers to take part in environmental activities. A plantation drive was also conducted in the schools as a way of promoting the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme. Finally, field trips were also arranged for the students, giving them the opportunity to understand the value of natural resources. Destinations included Dhodial Pheasantry and the Pakistan Museum of Natural History.

Donor: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Partners: Planning and Development Department (P&D); Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA); and Ministry of Climate Change