Water crisis is emerging as one of the biggest challenges for Pakistan now a days. Pakistan’s water resources are running dry at alarming rate. Current extreme water shortage warnings have attracted nation’s attention.
At the time of independence of our country the annual water availability that was nearly 5600 cubic metres per capita. That has fallen to 1000 cubic meters leaving Pakistan to the category of highly water stressed nations in the globe. The matter of serious concern is that IMF has also placed Pakistan on third position in the context of water crisis.
In addition, study suggests that currently, Pakistan is water stressed country but if the suitable action is not undertaken for preserving and saving water. Consequently, it will turn water scarce by 2025.
Undeniably, these predictions would become reality very soon if government doesn’t put water management policy at top of its agendas and if sustainable and economical use of water doesn’t become top of our priorities. There is no denying the fact that our country’s water crisis has exacerbated these days than before. Pakistan is witnessing looming water crisis, on the one hand, there is extreme irrigation water scarcity.
Due to which the productivity and fertilization of agriculture and food security of motherland are being badly affected. It is believed that Pakistan is one of the major food producing and land copious countries in the world. The tragic truth is that current drought- like condition has reduced food and agricultural yields and outputs of crops.
Drinking water scarcity
On the other, there is an acute drinking water scarcity which has made lives of the people miserable. In major cities of Pakistan underground water is salty, thus not drinkable. Hence, People walk long distances in the search of water in many parts of the country. Approximately, more than 27 million Pakistanis lack access to potable water and almost 70pc water in the homeland is unfit for human consumption.
Therefore, common people are drinking that contaminated water because they have no way out other than consuming harmful water. According to Hassan Foundation, almost, “250,000 children under the age of five die every year of waterborne disease, costing economy around $ 1.3 billions. Whereas, four-fifths of all diseases Pakistanis suffer from, such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis, are caused by contaminated and untreated water”.
The major reasons for serious water scarcity can be attributed to poor water resource management, water wastage and lack of effective water conservation policy, low budget allocation and dearth of reservoirs and storage dams. No doubt, Pakistan has miserably failed in showing progressive approach towards water management.
Huge chunk of water is wasted in Pakistan and less than 0.2 percent of GDP is allocated for water and sanitation. Besides, since 1960s Pakistan haven’t built dams despite the fact that our dams can store water for 30 days only. While the international standard of water storage is 120 days and India has the capacity to water for 190 days and Egypt can store water for 1000 days comparatively.
Whereas, research study on water resources of Pakistan reveals that “approximately water having economic values of $70 billion is being thrown into sea every year due to non-construction of water reservoirs”.
Likewise, burgeoning population is also worsening water crisis. Our annual population growth rate (up to 2 percent) is one of the highest rates in South Asia and population will double if same growth rate continues till 2025. In turn, it will further add fuel to this serious problem.
Furthermore, rapid urbanization and growing demand of water in agricultural, industrial sector have jointly made water a dwindling resource. Additionally, devastating effects of climate change are also highly responsible for drought like situation in major Parts of the country.
According to 2017 Climate Change Index, “Pakistan is one of the most affected and vulnerable countries to climate change, ranking on 7th number out of 10 climate prior nations of Asia”. Meanwhile, erratic weather and rainfall patterns, glacial melting, global warming and droughts have further aggravated the situation in Pakistan.
Undeniably, water is increasingly essential for the sustenance of human life; people’s livelihoods, food security and socio-economic stability of our country as well. Whereas, Pakistan is agricultural country. Around 42 percent workforce in rural areas work in agricultural fields.
Agriculture significantly contributes in Pakistan’s exports, GDP, per capita income and social and economic progress. Almost 21 percent of GDP and 70 percent exports are created from it like cotton, wheat, rice etc. Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that water is lifeline for Pakistan. Without that socio-economic advancement cannot be attained.
So, lets work in tandem to fix this pressing problem to stabilize our country at all fronts. Water crisis is getting worse from bad day by day. That is why immediate and special attention must be paid to water management on government side. The government should chalk out the best possible plannings for building more water reservoirs and storage dams in the country as they will go long way towards resolving this grave issue of our times.
Furthermore, there is the dire need to formulate an effective water resource management and conservation agenda, a uniform water distribution policy and an efficient plan for controlling water wastage.
Moreover, state must invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to save the country from its miserable impacts. Over population will also aggravate the situation. Therefore, government must come up with effective policies to control rapidly increasing population.
Apart from this the state need to ensure that every citizen has smooth access to clean and drinkable water. The only way to tackle this alarming water crisis is to take urgent and strategic action in this regard. Otherwise, it will be too late to act when the country’s water resources would go dry. Dams will reach dead level, population will approach its peak point. In fact, when there will be no drop to drink!
The writer is an undergraduate student studying Economics at University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan. Besides, he is an aspiring CSS candidate and writes letters and articles for various national newspapers and magazines regularly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org