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Interview with Dr Khalid Mahmood, Assistant Professor at the University of the Punjab

Could you describe your professional career and/or personal experiences related to space technology and water? Where does your interest in those sectors come from?

I started my research career in 2013, with research interests revolving around various environmental concerns that were deeply rooted in water related issues of Pakistan. Having an educational background in Space Science, it was quite intuitive to possess understanding of the very high potential of applicability of Geospatial technologies in the water sector.

Interview with Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information System, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan discussed his extensive work in addressing water-related challenges through the nexus between smart sensing and space technologies. His thematic focus spans water scarcity, food security, climate risks, and environmental monitoring with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, including Pakistan and China. Key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding his work include SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG13 (Climate Action), SDG15 (Life on Land), and SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).  Abbas's passion for water emerged during his early career at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), where he was involved in Pakistan’s Wetland Program and witnessed the impact of water on associated ecosystems. This sparked his interest in understanding and managing water, forestry, and wildlife resources. He recently studied coastal ecosystems and their responses to climate and anthropogenic stressors in the Asia-Pacific region. The Living Indus – Investing in Ecological Restoration has become a new focus of interest for him, addressing sustainability challenges related to food security, river basin management, and efficient water use in alignment with the UN Decade of Ocean objectives.  Abbas shared his fascination with water, recognizing its complex and essential nature. He is captivated by its beauty in all forms and acknowledges its fundamental importance for life on Earth. This water connection further motivates his commitment to addressing global water challenges and promoting sustainable water use through innovative solutions.  Sawaid Abbas's work, stimulated by both professional commitment and personal fascination, stresses the critical role of space technologies, particularly earth observation, smart sensing nexus, and artificial intelligence in addressing water-related challenges. His research contributes to the development of innovative solutions for sustainable water use, environmental protection, and disaster response, aligning with global goals for a more resilient and water-secure future. 

Use of space-based technology to search for alternate sources of water in Tharparkar

In Pakistan’s southern province, Sindh, lies the world’s only fertile desert in the world. The Tharparkar Desert stretches till the southeastern parts of Punjab, joining the Cholistan Desert. Tharparkar District is the largest of 29 districts in Sindh. According to Integrated Water Resource Management Practices to Alleviate Poverty – A Model of Desert Development in Tharparkar, Pakistan, the Thar is, people of Thar, have their livelihoods dependent on 'rainfall and livestock rearing, which is critical to household food security.'

Hydro-diplomacy: The role of space-derived data in advancing water security

Water scarcity is one of the greatest threats faced by humanity of our time – in 2019, more than two billion people experience high water stress (UN-Water 2019) and approximately four billion people suffer from severe water scarcity for at least one month per year (Mekonnen and Hoekstra 2016). This worsening problem increases the risk of international conflict over water resources breaking out, given that there are over 270 transboundary river basins, and three-quarters of UN Member States share at least one river or lake basin with a neighbour (UN News 2017).

Interview with Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information System, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan discussed his extensive work in addressing water-related challenges through the nexus between smart sensing and space technologies. His thematic focus spans water scarcity, food security, climate risks, and environmental monitoring with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, including Pakistan and China. Key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding his work include SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG13 (Climate Action), SDG15 (Life on Land), and SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).  Abbas's passion for water emerged during his early career at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), where he was involved in Pakistan’s Wetland Program and witnessed the impact of water on associated ecosystems. This sparked his interest in understanding and managing water, forestry, and wildlife resources. He recently studied coastal ecosystems and their responses to climate and anthropogenic stressors in the Asia-Pacific region. The Living Indus – Investing in Ecological Restoration has become a new focus of interest for him, addressing sustainability challenges related to food security, river basin management, and efficient water use in alignment with the UN Decade of Ocean objectives.  Abbas shared his fascination with water, recognizing its complex and essential nature. He is captivated by its beauty in all forms and acknowledges its fundamental importance for life on Earth. This water connection further motivates his commitment to addressing global water challenges and promoting sustainable water use through innovative solutions.  Sawaid Abbas's work, stimulated by both professional commitment and personal fascination, stresses the critical role of space technologies, particularly earth observation, smart sensing nexus, and artificial intelligence in addressing water-related challenges. His research contributes to the development of innovative solutions for sustainable water use, environmental protection, and disaster response, aligning with global goals for a more resilient and water-secure future. 

Interview with Dr Khalid Mahmood, Assistant Professor at the University of the Punjab

Could you describe your professional career and/or personal experiences related to space technology and water? Where does your interest in those sectors come from?

I started my research career in 2013, with research interests revolving around various environmental concerns that were deeply rooted in water related issues of Pakistan. Having an educational background in Space Science, it was quite intuitive to possess understanding of the very high potential of applicability of Geospatial technologies in the water sector.

Capacity Building and Training Material

UN SPIDER Recommended Best Practice: Flood Hazard Assessment

Overview:

Flood hazard assessments are critical to identifying areas at risk and taking relevant preparation and mitigation measures to address the hazard. Using the HEC-RAS 2D model for preparing flood hazard maps, this Recommended Practice explains how to identify flood-prone areas and exposed infrastructure. Through its focus on the prevention and mitigation stages of the disaster management cycle, it complements the Recommended Practice on Flood Mapping and Damage Assessment with Sentinel-2, also developed by SUPARCO.

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Project / Mission / Initiative / Community Portal

Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan

This project aims at developing a flood early warning system and building capacity in Pakistan to manage floods. The flood early warning system is primarily composed of Indus-IFAS, an interface mounted with two hydrological models IFAS (Integrated Flood Analysis System ) and RRI (Rainfall Runoff Innundation) models developed by International Centre for Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM)  and the use of satellite based rainfall estimates "Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP)" including a correction interface developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Stakeholder

Global Water Partnership

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 Partner organisations in 179 countries. The network has 69 accredited Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships.

The network is open to all organisations involved in water resources management: developed and developing country government institutions, agencies of the United Nations, bi- and multi-lateral development banks, professional associations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.

International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals

With the aim of addressing global challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CBAS is committed to harnessing big data to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing technological barriers and filling in data gaps. Since its inauguration, CBAS identified key areas of interest and has made significant progress. 

International Water Management Institute

IWMI is a research-for-development (R4D) organization, with offices in 13 countries and a global network of scientists operating in more than 30 countries. For over three decades, our research results have led to changes in water management that have contributed to social and economic development. IWMI’s Vision reflected in its Strategy 2019-2023, is ‘a water-secure world’.

Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

Realizing the importance of Space Science and Technology applications for sustainable national development, the Government of Pakistan established Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission. Being the National Space Agency of Pakistan, SUPARCO is mandated to conduct research and development work in the field of space science, technology and its applications for peaceful purposes and socio-economic uplift of country. Its headquarter is located at Islamabad and technical facilities are spread over Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Quetta, Peshawar and Gilgit.

Person

Ali

Photo of Dr. Ali

Amjad Ali

Director general/Chief scientist Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

Dr. Amjad Ali is serving as a senior scientist in the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) in the capacity of remote sensing of the environment. He obtained MSc and Doctoral degrees in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation from the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente, the Netherlands. His scientific contributions are reflected in international scientific journals and conferences in the fields of Remote Sensing and GIS.

picture showing the person

Hafsa Aeman

Senior Research Officer - Geoinformatics, CGIAR International Water Management Institute

Hafsa Aeman is a Senior Research Officer at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Pakistan. In this capacity, she is deeply involved in various projects, notably the Water Resource Accountability in Pakistan (WRAP) and NEXU Gains initiatives, both supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO). These projects are geared towards augmenting capacity for water resource management at the provincial and district levels.

Photo of Dr. Sawaid Abbas

Sawaid Abbas

Assistant Professor Smart Sensing for Climate and Development, GIS Centre, University of the Punjab Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab

Sawaid is a spatial data scientist who works at the nexus of earth science, ecology and climate change through leveraging remote sensing, machine learning, and strong domain knowledge. His key work involves forest succession, drought, and rangelands which were accomplished through collaboration with institutions like WWF, ICIMOD, ICRAF, AFCD, and KFBG.