Water crisis and lack of urgency

June 15, 2018

Pakistan touched water stress line in 1990 and in 2005 country crossed water scarcity line and if the issue is not dealt with urgency country will face acute water shortage or drought-like situation in the near future. As per a report of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) published in 2016 country will approach absolute water scarcity by 2025 if situation is not taken seriously.
The unpredictable weather this year and the prolonged heat wave in many cities has made it amply clear that Pakistan faces a challenge on its hands as far as environmental issues, including water scarcity are concerned. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar has recently said that issue of water scarcity would be one of the top most priorities of apex court and concerned authorities would be asked about their initiatives in this regard.
Despite having one of the best irrigation networks in the world, Pakistan has for long neglected water conservation and addition to the available water storage infrastructure. With effects of global warming on becoming more visible with every passing day, Pakistan’s negligence when it comes to the water sector has put it in a dangerous position. A United Nations Development Programme report released last year said that rising temperatures, increasing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, a growing threat of glacier lake outburst floods, more intense rainfall, and changes in monsoon and winter rainfall patterns are just some of the ways in which climate change is expected to affect Pakistan’s hydrologic resources. These risks amplify an already problematic situation given that Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world. Per capita access to surface and groundwater sources is expected to continue to decline in the decades ahead, driven largely by rapid population growth and urbanization. The potential for climate change to affect water flows within the Indus Basin is the most serious concern. Pakistan will need to form both long and short term policies regarding its water sector and work on emergency footing to improve and add to the water infrastructure in the country. There is also dire need to find the ways to store water. Experts are of the view that country should make many small and big dams in order to enhance water storage capacity of the country. As per a recent report, Pakistan can store water for just one month but on the other side neighbouring country India has the water storage capacity for 170 days.
Pakistan desperately needs to increase water storage capacity.

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