While political controversies and sports wins occupy our headlines, we are battling a severe issue underneath – massive water crisis.
According to reports by UNDP (United Nations Development Program) as well as PCRWR (Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources) has warned that Pakistan is likely to reach absolute scarcity level by the year 2025. The UN report also highlighted that the urgent threat will be water availability to the masses. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Pakistan, Neil Buhne commented:
‘’No person in Pakistan, whether from the North with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the South with its ‘hyper deserts’ will be immune to this’’.
Putting this into perspective, Pakistan is close to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region by the year 2040.
A government official, wishing to stay anonymous, said that urgent research is required to find a solution but the government doesn’t have enough funds to do so. With drastic changes in climatic patterns and steadily declining rainfalls, the only reliable source of water from the country is Indus River basin in India. Despite having one of the largest glaciers, Pakistan is among 36 most water-stressed countries in the world. Per capita water availability in the country has declined from 5260 cubic meters in 1951 to below 1100 cubic meters in 2010.
The determinants contributing towards this intense crisis are the absence of national water policy, poor management of water resources, an extremely water intensive economy, low water-usage efficiency and rapid increase in population.
Pakistan’s agricultural sector is the biggest consumer of water hence, is the biggest cause of water shortage. It is imperative to devise methods and mechanisms for making crop irrigation more efficient leaving room for domestic and industrial supply. Despite the water crisis, Pakistan has the world’s 4th highest water usage rate, which is extremely concerning. Former chairman of Water and Power Development Authority, Shams ul Mulk said that water policy is ‘simply non-existent in Pakistan’. Policy makers act like ‘absenteelandlordss’ over water. He said:
‘’Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of landlords and the poor are deprived of their share’’.
Energy sector expert Irfan Chaudhary said that there exists an obvious lack of political will to tackle the problem.
‘’There are no water shortage facilities in the country. Pakistan hasn’t built new dams since the 1960s. What we see is a political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days and it is worrisome.’’ – Chaudhary said talking to local media (Source: Geo News)
With little to no interest on a national level, people lack the awareness and are not doing enough on a personal level either.
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