Project on Karachi's Water Distribution System

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Project on Karachi's Water Distribution System

From Farwa Hussain

Our project focuses on generating data sets on Karachi's Water Distribution Systems. ILiADS 2018 Institute will help us gain better insight on our project under mentor-ship of digital experts.

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According to estimates by the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), the body responsible for ensuring access to water and sanitation, Karachi is supplied 550 millions of gallons per day (MGD) from Keenjhar Lake, a human-made reservoir that feeds off the Indus River. 235 MGD of this water is either lost or stolen (Hashim, 2017). Elsewhere, however, KWSB quotes the amount of water ready to be supplied as 650 MGD (“Karachi water demand,” 2017) which increases the shortfall by 100 MGD to 335 MGD.

Moreover, this is not taking into account the actual demand of water in Karachi. If UN Water Standards are to be followed, Karachi needs about 1100 MGD, which brings the shortfall up to and between 450-550 MGD. F. H. Mughal, an environmental engineer, estimates that even if water supply to Karachi were to be capped at 31.7 gallons per capita per day (GPCD), the water demand adds up to 530 MGD (ibid.).

The discrepancy here is obvious: the water that Karachi is receiving should be enough for the city theoretically. Nevertheless, various areas across Karachi face criminal shortage of water on daily basis. The burden of blame is thrown over others’ shoulder at times when there is a  accountability. The lack of accurate and collated information on the topic, therefore, convolutes the overall problem.

We can’t simply move forward with comprehending the issue because although the lack of water is grave, the absence of data to help understand the bigger picture or ultimately to direct policy changes is an issue of a larger magnitude.


Our project emphasizes on the need of a collated database that holistically represents the issue, which is publicly accessible, interactive, and inherently serves a political function. We propose, through our project, that GIS maps may serve that purpose.

Therefore, titled “Multi-stakeholder Input in Tackling Karachi’s Water Distribution Issues and the Use of GIS Mapping,” our project aims to:  

  • Recognize that shortfalls in water distribution system (WDS) in Karachi require multipronged and multi-stakeholder input to be tackled effectively.  

  • Understand that lack of data on Water Distribution Systems in Karachi, and difficulty in accessing it, impedes interventions.  

  • Argue that GIS map can provide an open-access, multi-layered data resource, built upon by various stakeholders’ input.

  • Contribute a base map as a prototype to illustrate the importance of accurate data on water distribution systems.

  • Invite potential collaborators such as the government, universities, non-governmental organizations, industries, and citizens to design a technologically feasible solution to Karachi’s water problem using the analysis provided by the base map created during this project.  


ILiADS is a week-long summer institute where participants develop digital projects in teams of faculty, students, librarians, and technologists. During this week of immersion, teams build upon established digital projects and/or launch new ones. Teams have access to their pool of ILiADS liaisons that provide training and guidance on digital scholarship technologies and methods.


At the institute, we will get an opportunity to take our projects forward under the mentorship of experts of digital scholarship. We will also be getting to attend various "pop-up" workshops that align with our project's interest. We will also be attending various panel discussions on broader questions in digital and liberal arts scholarship.


Our project can be of crucial use to stakeholders across sectors. Below are some of its potential key usages:  

  • Advocacy: NGOs, right to water activists, and policy makers can use the map to assess the situation in real time and advocate for policy changes accordingly

  • Awareness: Common citizens, educators, students, and NGOs can use the map to create awareness about the issues of water distribution in Karachi

  • Accountability: the map can help identify some key areas of the issues of water distribution, and this can pave the way for accountability of the institutions and people responsible for it

  • Intervention: this map can be a data bank for businesses and organizations looking to make a positive impact on the city by helping them identify the key areas that need intervention.

We believe as students we can contribute our bit to tackle the issue at hand, and it is our duty to do so.


We, Hussain Farwa, Osama Bin Rizwan and Uzair Ibrahim, are among the first Pakistani students whose work has been selected for 2018 The Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship. We are also members of the founding class of Habib University.


We are seeking assistance in funding for our attendance at the 2018 Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILIADS), scheduled for June 2018 in Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, USA. We have been selected via a very competitive, peer-reviewed process whereby our project was selected as one of the top-quality submissions.  The Institute has also provided us with partial funding. The details of the funding can be found in the formal proposal.


We would be happy to represent your organization’s mission and values at the conference itself. If we attend, you will gain access to a worldwide network of researchers. In addition to this networking, we also hope to connect with different organizations that can help us in funding our research for years to come. Through this, you will make a global presence as a supporter of students who want to impact and effect positive change in a country like Pakistan.

Since we are the first Pakistani students to be invited to the Institute, our attendance will establish a precedence and open doors for other Pakistani students to avail such opportunities in the future. This will also play its part in creating an undergraduate research culture which will be a valuable addition to undergraduate education in Pakistan.

We hope that you will consider this as a unique opportunity for you to help us leave our mark on the Karachi’s urban scape with our user-centered project.

Further budget explanation:

Because of the distance and the attendant traveling time, we expect to depart Pakistan on June 9th and arrive in the US by 10th June so we can attend the entire conference. All flight and Uber costs are estimated to adjust the exchange rate and flight/Uber costs over time.

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