The next great war-we need to get ready
HOW WILL water shortage affect me? That is the silent thought that echoes through our heads. Or, its not your fault. Our brains have been programmed to think as such – the urge to do so is heightened by functioning in an increasingly globalised, competitive and cut-throat world.
Remember the flood tax that had reduced your take-home income? How about the increasing inflation?
Time to wake up and smell the fresh, or as the case might be – pungent, putrid air.
After torrential rains and flooding occurred last year, the mighty Indus swelled to the highest water level it had reached in 110 years. Millions were displaced and billions of dollars were lost. It is unfeasible for the country to immediately recover the damage. An effective water management strategy is needed to store excess water and protect us against droughts or floods.
A repeat can be expected any time, but we can prepare for it. Experts say this is only the start of a trend that is likely to continue over decades. To stem the flow of the tide and convert the threat into an opportunity, Pakistan needs to step up – fast.
The struggle for resources has led man to the juncture where energy, water and food can be speculated to be the most desired commodities. Water is the building block of life itself, so harnessing its immense power today is the need of the hour. When coming back to reality, our problems are not new and will only become worse with time.
For the second time since the Indus Water Treaty, 1960, Pakistan has challenged India over its construction of dams. Alarm and concern has been in the air along with efforts to thwart Indias water plans. The Kishanganga dam project will divert waters from Jhelum into Indias own fields, making 5.6 million acres of Pakistani lands barren. Taking this to international agencies for arbitration has not proved fruitful as India is proceeding with its 330-megawatt hydro-electric project.
Learning by example is the simplest way to succeed. Dam construction in India has seen staggering growth – from 300 dams in 1947 to an astounding 4,000 large and small dams at the turn of the last century, half of which were built between 1971 and 1989.
With the 2012 monsoon, one can only hope for the best. The point to note here is not that climate change should be highlighted more but that for once brainstorming to devise a national strategy should be done by individuals.
A New York Times article draws a grim picture of the scenario. The global climate change has widespread consequences – from floods in Pakistan to the record heat wave in Russia and flooding and mudslides in western China. Furthermore, if the forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are correct, then Pakistans misery is just a sign of more to come.
Yet the Pakistani nation remains attuned to slumber until disaster shocks them into wakefulness. Preemptive attempts are lost in translation – during the overheated debates of the elite, amongst the corrupt practices of the powerful or somewhere in the grueling workload of the impoverished.
Development strategies need to be progressive and strategic – not reactionary. Climate change and environmental degradation are confined by the mindsets that set it as the last priority on a long list. Now these are the problems, which everyone harps about, you might think. The solution is evident but the means to attain it remain blurry. Unification under a national umbrella to draft strategies made by qualified recommendations, obtaining the funding and implementing it wholeheartedly is the only long-term solution. Even if this year goes by safely, two or three years down, another flood could wipe our economic growth clean. Irrespective of the frequent political instability, forces must unite to devise a permanent solution to ease the anticipated water shortage.
The writers is a graduate from Rice University, Houston, TX, with a degree in Economics and Policy Studies