Saturday, November 5, 2011

Water Woes: Pakistan’s Survival At Stake !!

We are a country battling with growing population, depleting water resources and acute energy shortage. Lately I came across an interesting book “Pakistan: A Hard Country” by Anatol Lieven and he identifies water issue, one of the most serious for the survival of Pakistan.

Pakistani population is growing and available water resources are not enough unless we radically improve efficiency of water use.

Lately Karachi bloggers had an interesting discussion with US Under Secretary Maria Otero and she rightly mentioned that Pakistan wastes water resources, instead of using efficient drip irrigation it relies on flood irrigation.

If one looks at old Indian economy it was a gamble on the Indus, civilizations thrived across rivers and destroyed because rivers changed their course or washed them away by floods.

Indus is the main source of water thriving Pakistan’s agriculture sector however it only cultivates 24 percent of area. Furthermore, chronic water over use is resulting in drying up of natural springs; water table is dropping so rapidly that the tube wells will also eventually dry.

There are studies that by 2035, glaciers feeding the Indus will disappear and they are fast melting and water conservation is the need of the hour for Pakistan to ensure enough water is available for future generation. Pakistan needs to focus on agriculture, improve water storage and distribution infrastructure.

As per Anatol Lieven “Pakistan is overly dependent on Indus, climate change, water shortage, possible long term combination of climate change, acute water shortages, poor water infrastructure and steep population growth has the potential to wreck Pakistan as an organized state and society”.

US is one of the leading partners of Pakistan, it is need of the hour that long term international aid projects in Pakistan should be devoted above all to reducing this mortal threat, by promoting reforestation, repairing irrigation system and even more importantly improving the efficiency of water use.

There is an interesting view and no one denies, human beings may survive for centuries without democracy and without much security but they can not live for more than three days without water.

I would like to share an interesting but worrying report on Pakistan water situation published by World Bank. It says “The facts are stark. Pakistan is already one of the most water stressed countries in the world, a situation that is going to degrade into outright water scarcity due to high population growth. There is no feasible intervention which would enable Pakistan to mobilize appreciably more water than it now uses .There are no additional water resources to be exploited and agricultural water use must decline to enable adequate flows into the degrading Indus River Delta. Pakistan’s dependence on a single river system makes its water economy highly risky” .

Another interesting study published by the Woodrow Wilson Center, as per study “by 2025 population growth is likely to mean that Pakistan’s annual water demand rises to 338 billion cubic metres (bcm) – while, unless radical action is taken, Pakistan’s water availability will be around the same as at present, at 236 bcm. The resulting shortfall of 100 bcm would be two-thirds of the entire present flow of the Indus.

It seems frightening but still we have time to fix before it’s too late. I have no doubt on the capabilities of our nation and am sure this region will survive and successfully face the nature’s wrath.

1 comment:

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