By Sarah Lappé, Sustainability Office
On Tuesday, I attended the signing of the agreement between the University of Utah and Mehran University of Engineering & Technology (MUET) in Jamshoro, Pakistan. The agreement creates the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW). This program was started by the United Stated Agency for International Development, or USAID, in coordination with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
This partnership is a big deal. The U is one of six international institutions working to create this research center, which is a part of a larger $127 million investment to bring higher education research and training opportunities in energy, water, agriculture, and food security to Pakistan. In addition to experts from the U and MUET, the partnership will bring in researchers from Colorado State University, City College of New York, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, and the Stockholm Environmental Institute.
Why is this a big deal? At the moment, estimates suggest that nearly 25 percent of Pakistanis do not have access to clean drinking water because Pakistan’s water resources have been damaged in recent years by both droughts and floods.
This five-year project will help secure the availability of clean water by supporting the training of professionals that plan, design, build, operate, maintain, and manage water systems for agriculture, industry, and metropolitan users. This project will focus its efforts on hydraulics, irrigation and drainage, integrated water resources management, sanitation and hygiene, and environmental engineering.
The ultimate goal of this project is to develop cost-effective and sustainable solutions to Pakistan’s water concerns, while also educating the next cohort of change makers who can lead solutions that help the country meet basic human needs. A significant aspect of the project also includes gender equity, where admissions and hiring protocols will include 50 percent females, ultimately increasing women’s role in engineering and science.
“Water challenges cannot be overcome without women,” said Zahida Jamali, assistant professor at MUET, at the signing.
By partnering with MUET, the University of Utah is showing its long-term commitment to education, research, natural resources, sustainability, and equity for our global community.
For more information, check out these video clips about USPCASW.
KUTV’s spot light ” Utah researchers working for life-saving water in Pakistan”
Sarah Lappé is the communications & outreach coordinator for the Sustainability Office.