ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan, 2016-2020


Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research: $2,050,000 (cash)
CSU: $100,000 (cash) plus $541,330 (in-kind contribution)
Other partners: $656,689 (in-kind contributions)
Total $2,150,000 plus $1,198,019 in-kind

CSU Investigators/researchers

Associate Professor Andrew Hall (Project Director), Institute Adjunct Professor Jay Punthakey, Dr Michael Mitchell, Dr Richard Culas, and Associate Professor Catherine Allan

Co-investigators/ project partners

Ground water partnershipsPakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR); University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF); PMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (UAAR); Sindh Agriculture University (SAU); Mehran University of Engineering & Technology (MUET); NED University of Engineering & Technology (NED); Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering & Management Sciences (BUITEMS); Punjab Irrigation Department (PID); Sindh Irrigation Department (SID); Balochistan Irrigation & Power Department (BID); International Waterlogging & Salinity Research Institute (IWASRI); and International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).


This project is a step toward more effective groundwater use for social, economic and environmental benefits in Pakistan, a country whose population of over 180 million relieves heavily on agriculture. Around 95% of the country's water consumption is for agriculture and the pressure on available resources is increasing.

Surface water supply is highly variable and dependence on groundwater has rapidly increased with over one million tubewells in use. Most are owned by private farmers. Continuous decline in groundwater levels and spread of salinization is rendering fertile lands unusable and undermining livelihoods. Groundwater over-extraction is being exacerbated by increased cropping intensity to meet food security need, electricity subsidisation, inefficient irrigation practices, and a deficient regulatory and policy framework.

The core of this project is collaboration through partnerships to address the complexity of achieving effective, fair groundwater management. It aims to build the capacity of researchers, farmers, farming communities and relevant government and non-government agencies to improve groundwater management in ways that enhance farming family livelihoods in Pakistan.

The project is designed to provide an enabling environment for communities to participate in the research process and to develop socially acceptable solutions. The three case study locations in different agro-ecological settings are:

  • The Lower Bari Doab in Punjab
  • Pishin Lora Basin in Balochistan
  • The Shaheed Benazirabad (formerly Nawabshah) and Naushahro Feroze Districts

The project is one of a suite of collaborative research projects between Australia and Pakistan focused on improving water management.


pdf ACIAR project Fact Sheet

Project website:

Christen, E. W., Mitchell, M., Roth, C. & Rowley, E. (2019) Addressing research complexity: Analysing pathways to impact and using transdisciplinary approaches. Agricultural Science, 30/31(2/1), 32-43.

Imran, M. A., Ali, A., Ashfaq, M., Hassan, S., Culas, R. & Ma, C. (2019) Impact of climate smart agriculture (CSA) through sustainable irrigation management on resource use efficiency: A sustainable production alternative for cotton. Land Use Policy, 88, 104113.

Imran, M. A., Ali, A., Ashfaq, M., Hassan, S., Culas, R, & Ma, C.  Ma (2018) Impact of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) through Sustainable Irrigation Management on Cotton Production and Livelihood of Farmers in Punjab, Pakistan, Sustainability, 10(6), 2101;


It is expected that by the end of the four year project that:

  • Farmers, farming organisations and partner non-government organisation will have begun introducing improved groundwater management practices
  • Government agencies in Pakistan will have started developing/demonstrating improved groundwater planning, monitoring, management strategies, options and policies
  • Relevant provincial-level government agencies, NGOs and farming organisations will have developed effective partnerships for ongoing discussion on groundwater management issues and solutions


Associate Professor Catherine Allan email

Dr Michael Mitchell email

Albury Wodonga Campus

January 2020