Impact of water sector interventions on economy, equity, and environment in the rainfed region of Punjab, Pakistan


This case study of rainfed Potohar region of Punjab, Pakistan, illustrates the impact of water sector interventions on the ‘three Es’ of integrated water resource management: economics, equity, and environment. Small and mini dams constructed with the support of the Agency for Barani Area Development have been selected for this study. For impacts assessment, interviews and field surveys were conducted and data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Agriculture Marketing Information Services were acquired. Moreover, precipitation data and imagery in Google Earth were also used in this study to further validate the impact of dams on agriculture. Remote sensing imagery was used to estimate vegetative cover through the normalized difference vegetation index. Overall, the study results show a significant increase in the vegetation cover between 2008 and 2016. Therefore, small and mini dams happened to be significant and effective interventions in improving the quality of livelihood and sustained agriculture in the Potohar region of Punjab. Thus, for efficient and sustainable rainwater management, small and mini dams can be considered as a feasible option not only in the unserved areas of the Potohar region but other rainfed areas as well.

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Source: Pakistan meteorological department

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  1. 1.

    Kharif crop refers to the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of any domesticated plant sown in the rainy (monsoon) season on the Asian subcontinent. These crops are usually sown in beginning of the first rains in July, during the southwest monsoon season.

  2. 2.

    Rabi crops refers to agricultural crops, which are sown in autumn and harvested in the winter season.


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The authors wish to thank U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW), Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, for the financial support. The authors also like to thank the Agency for Barani Area Development (ABAD) of the Government of Punjab for providing the necessary data for this study. Finally, they thank Dr. Steve Burian and Dr. Rick Bereit from University of Utah (USA) for their support and mentoring.

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Correspondence to Vengus Panhwar.

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Panhwar, V., Zaidi, A., Ullah, A. et al. Impact of water sector interventions on economy, equity, and environment in the rainfed region of Punjab, Pakistan. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 2190–2203 (2021).

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  • Field survey
  • GIS and remote sensing
  • Impact assessment
  • Small and mini dams
  • NDVI
  • Rainfed agriculture