An overview of Pakistan’s water crises
Water is a natural resource which is found in plentiful amount on the surface of the Earth yet of this 71% of water on the Earth only 3% is fresh water the rest being salty water hence unfit for consumption. When it comes to the use of water, we see that water is not just used for drinking but for agriculture, industries and a variety of other purposes as well. Whilst water is necessary for various other purposes, Pakistan being an agricultural country needs water in abundant amounts for its agricultural purposes because our economy depends on it. Sadly from its very creation to date Pakistan faces the water crises particularly because of India stopping the water or because of unstable and corrupt governments. To date Pakistan is facing a severe water crisis, which, if not controlled can lead to severe droughts in the near future. Not only is there a shortage of safe drinking water in Pakistan but also shortage of water and rain to feed the agricultural fields the results of which may be deadly as Pakistan/s economy would decline drastically and severe problems such as famine may result.Pakistan, despite having the capacity to build dams has not been much successful because of the lack of funds available for such huge projects on one hand, while our political corruption lies on the other hand. Despite being on the border line and warned about a future drought, water issue has been given only little priority as a result of which the country is falling into a further crises in the near future. We can only hope and pray that our government realizes the importance of this warning and takes steps to secure and stabilize the water crisis in Pakistan.
The problem of water in Pakistan is becoming a greater concern with every passing day. With the unavailability of safe drinking water, various bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases such as typhoid are rapidly out breaking which can result in high death rates leading to instability of the country at whole. Therefore, the issue of water is something that readily needs to be taken under control to save the country from any major and disastrous situations. Causes of water crises in PakistanAccording to a report by inter monetary fund (IMF), Pakistan falls the third among countries facing acute water shortage. They, along with other sources warn that Pakistan may reach absolute water scarcity by 2025, if the current situation continues. Pakistan has the world’s fourth-highest rate of water use. According to the IMF, Pakistan’s per capita annual water availability is 1,017 cubic meters — perilously close to the scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters. Back in 2009, Pakistan’s water availability was about 1,500 cubic meters.
There are several reasons that have been identified as to why the country is facing severe water problems. Let us discuss these problems.
- Climate change: The eventual changes in climate have severely affected the amount of water present in the country. As a result of global warming the temperatures are rising leading to greater evaporation of water ending in leading lands barren and unfit for agriculture. Apart from that, the monsoon season, since the past few years has been erratic and the winter season has shrunk to two or four months in some parts of the country. Simultaneously Pakistan does not have enough dams to store flood water and use it to compensate for water shortages. Also, forests have declined because of anthropogenic activities which have left forests barren. Less vegetation brings less rain so this causes shortage of water in the country.
- Water politics: Ever since its creation, Pakistan has suffered heavily at the hands of its enemy, India, who troubled Pakistan with several concerns and with water in particular. Never granted an equal share of resources, Pakistan lacked much and the headquarters and main supply of water to date remain in the hands of India. India uses this power to exploit Pakistan, releasing water in case of flood and holding it back when there is a shortage hence making Pakistan suffer with water issues deliberately. Tarbela and Mangla Dam, the only two major reservoirs of Pakistan have also been announced to have reached their dead levels only recently. Kugelman says that the Pakistani authorities need to step up efforts to overcome the water crisis, which is partly man-made.
- Wastage of water: Where on one hand we face issues storing water, the one we already have is also mismanaged and wasted on a daily basis. This mismanagement takes place at various levels. From mismanagement at domestic level to wasting water at an industrial level, we truly waste water at every level and fail to play our part in its conservation. After all it is every water drop that adds up to become a mighty ocean. We as tiny water droplets need to play our part in conserving water and once everyone plays their part as a responsible citizen, the country may be able to stabilize in terms of the shortage of water. Hence, wasting water is one of the major reasons our country lacks proper water management and sufficient amount to cater everyone’s needs.
Effects of water crises in Pakistan
- Decreased crops: Water is essential to the growth of crops hence crucial to the agricultural industry of Pakistan. Some crops such as rice required stagnant water in order to grow. Rice fields must be flooded with water at all time to ensure plentiful and proper growth. In case of a shortage of water, such fields would get insufficient water leading decrease in output of the crop ultimately being unable to meet the growing demands of the industry and the population. This is not just for rice fields, rather for all crops so such lack of water may drastically affect the output of crops and their shortage will affect Pakistan’s economy.
- Unemployment: As a result of decline of the agricultural industry the employment sector does suffer greatly. The more the agricultural sector flourishes, the greater the chances of employment as farmers etc. and it goes vice versa. With a rapid decline in the agricultural sector because of shortage of water, the need for farmers and other such jobs decrease hence leading to decline in employment. If water is unavailable in some farm, farmers may have to give up their fields as farming and crop growth is not possible without water.
- Export decline: Pakistan has some good quality fruits that it exports to other countries specially good quality fruits from Baluchistan. With a decline in the agricultural sector because of shortage of water, these exports would decline rapidly hence leading to negative impacts on the economy of Pakistan.
- Livestock farming:Livestock, like every other human require water and without water livestock farming would become a major issue. Cattle and livestock will not be raised and can lead to decline in cattle stock faming.
- Hydropower: Hydropower is the main source of energy generation in Pakistan. With shortage of water the electricity generation would decline causing an energy crisis. According to recent news WAPDA requires power of 75149 MW by year 2025 but it cannot be achieved without constructing new storage dams.
- Health issues: One major problem resulting from the shortage of water would be the unavailability of clean drinking water for the common people. In the absence of clean water people would be bound to drink unhealthy water leading to various infections such as typhoid.
Solution and recommendations for water challenges in Pakistan
The current situation of water in Pakistan shows that there is a dire need to pay attention to solving the water issues and improving the water situation in the near future. The issue of water is at an alarming rate and if not taken under control can lead to severe problems such as drought by 2025 as reports have suggested. Hence considering the critical nature of the issue we need to look at the steps which the government as well as we, as individuals can take to secure the declining rates of water in our beloved country.
Let us discuss what measures can be taken.
- Water development: This suggests that new dam development projects should start to develop new dams and maintain and manage the ones that already exist. This includes focus on projects like those stated below:a) Kalabagh Dam: Kalabagh dam site is located 132 miles downstream of Terbela. Its gross storage would be 6.1 maf. It would have a power generation of 3600 mw. Thus setting up this dam will give plentiful amount of energy and also save and store water helping in Pakistan’s water crisis.b) Raised Mangla dam: In this the present Mangla dam would be further raised by 40 ft. and thus increasing its gross capacity to 9.5 maf. In addition, its power generation capacity would be increased by 15%.c) Bhasha Dam: One initiative that the government has taken is the collection of funds for the development of a new dam named Bhasha dam. The government is actively involving the citizen to contribute to making of this dam, hoping that it will save and store water for our future generations.
- Water management: The idea of water management includes management of the resources that are already present. Such maintenance would help save water and use it efficiently meaning that it will contribute to solving the water crises in Pakistan. The ideas of water management include the following:a) Conservation of water: One important method of water management is the conservation of water which begins at an individual level where we as responsible citizens need to save water in our daily uses. This could be as simple as closing the water tap while brushing your teeth, making use of a bucket to bath rather than open flowing water etc. It is our duty and moral responsibility to play our part as a responsible citizen because little things add up to make a whole.b) Government laws: the government needs to play its part by setting laws about ways to conserve and maintain water so that it remains available in the future as well.c) Modern techniques: For watering fields and other various purposes modern techniques should be used such as sprinkling etc. as it saves water and improves water distribution.d) Valuing water as a resource: Water is supplied to farmers at a very negligible cost and that is why they do not treat water as a precious resource hence there is a need to increase the water prices to make irrigators realize the importance of this asset.
With all the problems at hand and having discussed some ways of overcoming them, we can hope and look forward to a successful and prosperous Pakistan which is free from any water shortage issues while considering the fact that we all need to play our part in saving our water resources and using them effectively. Here what we have at hand is not just us, but our future generations whose life and success depends on the way we live. Hence to ensure a stable Pakistan we all need to play our part and do what we can to save our country.