ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Living with salinity in the Indus Basin: SRA 2 (2019)


Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), $88,000


Dr Michael Mitchell, Dr Ed Barrett-Lennard (Murdoch University), Associate Professor Catherine Allan, Dr Jay Punthakey (Adjunct)

Research Theme

Sustainable Development (International)


Salt is historically part of the landscape of Pakistan. Modifications to the landscape and increased water use for agriculture is adding over 14.4 million tonnes of extra salt every year to the Indus Basin’s soil profile. The area being impacted is increasing annually by an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 ha. Salinisation and sodification of surface soils and waterlogging threaten agricultural production, resulting in higher rates of impoverishment for communities living in salinity affected areas in the Indus Basin.

This project builds on the previous work (including the creation of a well-regarded network of experts) done for the initial scoping project Improving salinity and agricultural water management in the Indus Basin of Pakistan conducted in 2017 as well as three related activities that further informed the project’s re-development. These were to observe and learn from the mid-term reviews of two related projects in Bangladesh; a workshop in Faisalabad in September 2018 which coincided with the annual planning meeting of all ACIAR projects in Pakistan; and a series of meetings in October 2018 at ACIAR with other Australian-based researchers.

This second scoping project will develop a proposal for a series of projects to be delivered over a 10 year time frame.

It incorporates:

  • A workshop in Karachi, Pakistan that will consolidate and finalise the Impact Pathways Analysis commenced in September, 2018. It will secure input into how the series of projects could unfold over the 10 year timeframe, the activities to be undertaken, and the commitment of the necessary expertise required.
  • Meetings in Pakistan to explore gender issues for those living with salinity and opportunities for gender inclusion in the projects being developed.
  • A visit to Australia by selected Pakistan-based partners/individuals so they are exposed to the strategies and outcomes of Australia’s approach to salinity management. The visit will include a workshop to further develop the research proposal, including the collaborative development of a map which describes the systemic situation of salinity in the Indus Basin.
  • Documentation of the process used to develop program proposals involving a series of projects over 10 years which will give ACIAR a model approach for developing such proposals. It begins by securing broad stakeholder input into the desired end of 10 year project outcomes, then working backwards to identify intermediate outcomes, outputs, activities and the expertise required.

In-country collaborating partners are:

  • Dr Bakhshal Lashari, Professor, Institute of Water Resources, and Director, Center for Advanced Studies in Water, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET)
  • Dr Iftikhar Hussain, Chairman, Society of Facilitators and Trainers (SOFT)
  • Dr Irfan Ahmed Baig, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities, Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture (MNSUAM)


The expected outcomes from this project are:

  • Finalisation of a revised Phase 1 proposal on salinity in the Indus Basin for dissemination, input and validation by all potential project partners and other existing ACIAR projects.
  • A proposal format or template that ACIAR and others could use for developing a research program involving a series of projects over 10 years.


Dr Michael Mitchell,
Albury-Wodonga Campus

May 2019