Pakistan and water scarcity: An alarming situation

According to IMF, Pakistan is listed in top 15 countries of the world with serious water scarcity issues. This estimated value showed that Pakistan is on 4th number in term of highest water usage.

Pakistan and water scarcity: An alarming situation

In Holy Quran it is clearly stated that “And ALLAH is created every animal from water” An-Noor [24-45].

Water is key element for the existence of life on Earth. Life could exist on any part of planet even without many elements like light, soil or vegetation. As we all know that without water life is impossible on any part of globe.

Form of life (Human, Plant and Animals) present on land and oceans needs water for their body functions, structure and food. Human body needs water for regulation of cells, tissues and organs.

Human body has many functions like sweating, breathing and digestion, through which water removes from body. We have to re-hydrate throughout the day. Moreover, water is very essential for the temperature regulation of human body and earth system.

We cannot imagine our lives and our living planet earth without water. Unfortunately Pakistanis are facing worst period of time in term of water availability. We are running out of water with every passing day.  According to estimations collected by experts it is now predicting that Pakistan will totally lose its water by 2025.

Water Scarcity

Water scarcity could express as deficiency in availability of water resources to meet the require amount of water demand. It is spreading to different regions of world; about 2.8 billion people in the world are suffering from water scarcity every year.  1.2 billion and above people are unable to reach clean drinking water in world.

Evidences of water scarcity in Pakistan

According to IMF (International Monetary Fund), Pakistan is listed in top 15 countries of the world with serious water scarcity issues. This estimated value showed that Pakistan is on 4th number in term of highest water usage. It has lower storing capacity, high water intensive agricultural practices and lower production.

Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also highlighted the issues regarding scarcity, shortage and lose of water in Pakistan. They used following four water scarcity indicators to elaborate water shortage issues in Pakistan:

  1. Falkenmark Indicator,
  2. The Water Resources Vulnerability Index (WRVI),
  3. IWMI’s,
  4. Physical and Economic Water Scarcity Indicators & Water poverty index

These indicators also confirmed Pakistan is a falling into the highly water scarce regions and running out of water at alarming level.

  • As per World Bank (2010) report, Pakistan’s water supply dropped down from 5000 m3/capita to 1000 m3/capita in 2010. And it is likely to reduce further to 800 m3/capita by 2020.
  • Ministry of water resources and ministry of planning development and reforms also pointed out the present shortage, institutional capabilities and future characteristic of water availability of Pakistan. They pointed out that Pakistan is listed among the water scare countries and real issue is of shortage and management of water.

How to overcome water scarcity?

1) Political legislative measures

Issues related to water shortage must be discuss in senate hall between all political parties. Senate of Pakistan may consider water problem as a collective matter for the people all over the Pakistan. It should formulate legislative proposals and policies to guide the government towards resolving this issue.

Senate of Pakistan could also gather all political parties on one platform and convince them to work collectively on water issues, in term of financing problems and construction of necessary dams and reservoirs.

When decisions making for allocation of budget, government should consider water shortage as a priority issue and allocate sufficient budget every year for the construction of most important water reservoirs like Diamer Bhasha and Mehmand Dam.

Furthermore, legislative measures must also conduct for the construction of new dams and important water managing projects.

There is a vital requirement for formulation of an effective national water policy and framework of groundwater regulation as a priority task. The national water policy must be formulated with the consent of parliament.

Issues regarding “Kalabagh dam” must resolve now under the supervision of parliament and must reach to a final decision. Parliament should decide to complete “Kalabagh Dam” or if it couldn’t be complete in anyway then there must be construction of its alternative dam “Akhori dam”.

2) Agricultural practices

By keeping in mind current water issues, measures should be conducted to grow water-saving crops and water must conserve by efficient use in agricultural activities. For this purpose modern low water wastage irrigation practices like drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation must followed.

There is also need of integrated planning in water sector for agriculture and water sector could work together for water conservation as well as agricultural modernization.

3) Public awareness

To build awareness of water shortage and dire need for water conservation, it is crucial to include these issues in course work at school level.

There must be public awareness and regulatory campaigns for water crises to build-up proper public information about causes, future impacts and threats of water scarcity. This will help public give guidance about their roll in water conservation.

There must proper laws and inquiries against water mafia.

By Haseeba Maryam

M.Sc.(Hons) Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.