BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Date of Submission



Dr. Abdul Haque Chang, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences


Dr. Abdul Haque Chang, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


This paper aims to understand how the politics and patronage of the waters of the Gomal canal in the remote region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, are creating social inequality and letting the poor landholders suffer the effects of water shortage.

The Gomal Canal originated from the Gomal Zam Dame, situated in the outskirt of Wana, South Waziristan tribal district. The Gomal canal flows through the two southern districts of KP, i.e., Tank and some areas of Dera Ismail Khan. It was completed in 2011 and opened in 2013. The Gomal canal was extended into Warren Canal in December 2016. The primary and distributary channels constitute 264 km length that irrigates the farmland of district Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

The research highlights the traditional ways i.e (Zama and Rod Kohi systems) people used before the onset Gomal Canal. Besides, it shows how political and local elites including upstream landlords of the area get benefit from the Canal water by diposessing the rest. The local politicians and landlords are ancestral beneficiaries of the governmental resources allocated to the people of these areas. These elites live in cities, and some of their family members reside in the villages to oversee land and look after crops. Moreover, they occupy lucrative jobs in the public sector. Although these landlords' land is located at the end of the Main or Warren canal, they take most of the water from the Canal and irrigate their land in total capacity.

Through this study, I show how these elites take a due share of the water from poor farmers and small landholders and how this political ecology of unequal water distribution is creating problems for the agricultural ecology of Pashtun society in the remote area of Pakistan. Moreover, it explains causes of conflicts between head and tail-end stakeholders arise due to unfair water resource management. This study is based on six months of ethnographic research, participant observation, and autoethnography to collect the data from local people's perspectives. I am from this area, and I use my experiences and activist position to understand how unequal water distribution affects poor, small, and powerless farmers, and landholders and how this shift affects rural life through injustice, corruption and bad water governance.



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