Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan by land area and the most scarcely populated, accounting for around two-fifths of the country’s territory and 5% of its population. Its eight divisions and their 36 districts extend through mountains, arid deserts, arable land, wide rangelands, and forests. Balochistan is the least developed province of Pakistan. In the Human Development Index report of 2017, it scored 0.42, well behind Sindh, Punjab, and other provinces.

Over 70% of the population lives in rural areas, where multidimensional poverty hits harder than in urban settings, mainly employed in agricultural and livestock production. The climatic diversity of Balochistan’s five agro-ecological zones allows for a variety of crops, among which tree fruits and vegetables have the highest marketability. Yet, the potential of the agricultural sector is constrained by water scarcity and various gaps in the supply chain, such as limited farm mechanization, outdated agricultural practices, poor post-harvest processing facilities, and limited farm-to-market linkages. The livestock sector includes dairy, poultry, and small ruminants. Poor animal health, nutrition, and husbandry techniques, in addition to water scarcity, contribute to low productivity. Overgrazing also has severe effects in terms of land degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Balochistan has a fragile water economy. Groundwater resources account for a small fraction of the total and are exploited beyond their potential for recharge, a situation exacerbated by public subsidies for water extraction. Surface water resources account for 88% of the total and they are underutilized. Better utilization of surplus floodwater with improved breeding and agricultural techniques has the potential to increase productivity and reduce pressure on the aquifers, thus contributing to sustainable development in Balochistan.

The Revival of Balochistan Water Resources Programme (RBWRP), financed through the European Union’s Instrument for Development Cooperation, contributes to the improvement of income and food security in selected river basins of Balochistan through sustainable agricultural and livestock farming systems based on sustainable, equitable management of water and rangeland resources. It is implemented through two parallel interventions: one by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and another by a consortium led by Landell Mills International, providing technical assistance and training to the institutional stakeholders of the water and agriculture sectors. The interventions address the transition to low water use agriculture and livestock farming systems, and the efficiency and profitability of agricultural value chains.