The Water Crisis in Pakistan May Lead to a Catastrophe

”Water is not for life, but water is life”. (Kofi Anan)

Water scarcity is a nightmare for any nation. Allah Almighty has highlighted the importance of water in Surah Ambiya, ayat 30, “And have not the ones who disbelieved seen that the heavens and the earth were an integrated (mass), then We unseamed them, and of water, We have made every living thing? Would they then not believe?”.

Earth has got abundant water, 71% of the earth surface is covered with water. Ocean has retained 96.5% and the rest of the water is in the shape of freshwater resources and glaciers. Here, a question arises, Is every person on the surface of the earth getting a sufficient amount of clean water? If no, then what are the reasons for this unavailability of water? Samuel Taylor Coleridge highlighted this issue in his book, “The mine of Ancient Mariner”. He said, “Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink”.

It means there is no shortage of water but we are failed to handle the water management. Apart from drinking, water is a mandatory essential to endure the economy of a country. Pakistan is a developing nation and its prosperity, survival and development need to do urgent measures to combat water scarcity. Otherwise, it may lead to humanitarian and economical catastrophe for the country.

At the time of independence of Pakistan, per capita availability of water was 5,000 cubic meters which are stressed down to 1017 cubic meters per capita, as per the current report of IMF. The scarcity threshold is 1,000 cubic meters per person and Pakistan is on the brink of it. By regulating an emergency alarm international organization has warned Pakistan. According to the report of the united nation development program, “Pakistan will dry up by 2025.”

The main issue of the country is not lack of water but the basic issue is poor water management and storage facility i.e how to save water and how to regulate it? Lack of enough reservoirs and dams, Outdated methods of irrigation, depleting water resources, violation of the Indus water treaty, overpopulation, global warming, lack of political will to solve the problem, absence of- water policy in the country are the main factors behind accelerating water scarcity.

Government has to take urgent measures to combat the emerging issues due to an increase in water scarcity such as drought, overwhelming urbanization, unavailability of water, declining per yield cultivation rate and trade decline. Scarcity has become an issue of national integrity and a cause of disturbance of inter-provincial harmony. The government of Pakistan has taken a pragmatic solution to counter this problem by developing the Indus River Storage Authority and PCRWR. Initiation of Pakistan’s first water policy (2018) and commencement of dam fund are also some progressives steps to elucidate the problem but Pakistan still needs to work hard to close this Pandora box.

Authorities have to take crucial measures through the construction of dams and reservoirs. They should arrange an awareness program on the public level regarding water wastage (ranked 4th on global water wastage) and how the increasing population (2.4% Per year) has brought a disastrous change in per capita water availability. The country should adopt remote methods of cultivation to save water.

Desalination of seawater and water recycle could be very helpful. Apart from making a commission, they have to improve the management with the help of an active task force. Dialogue with India could be the second step because the primary issue of Pakistan is not the unavailability of water. The annual water flow in Pakistan is 145 MAF whereas the water storage capacity is only 13 MAF. With this storage capacity, Pakistan can save water only for 30 days.

As an effect of global warming, the inflow of water in the country is started decreasing with each passing day. Pakistan is badly in need to save water for their survival. By blaming the old governments and other institutions it is better to work on it. The temperature scale is rising every year. Pakistan has got some of the hottest areas in the world. Now it is a question of our survival.

“No Person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its hyper desert, will be immune to this scarcity”.

Neil Buhne, UN humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan

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