Pakistan’s Water Crisis: A Call to Action
Pakistan, a land blessed with abundant natural resources, stands among the top countries in terms of its blessings from nature. With its picturesque landscapes, fertile lands, majestic mountains, and flowing rivers, Pakistan truly encompasses the beauty bestowed upon it. However, despite these blessings, Pakistan is grappling with a critical issue that threatens its very existence: water scarcity. This article sheds light on the severity of Pakistan’s water crisis, its causes, and the urgent need for action to secure a sustainable water future.
Water, often referred to as the essence of life, is a vital resource for every nation. In Pakistan, the available water supply stands at 2.5 billion cubic meters, with the majority, 90%, allocated for agriculture, 4% for industry, and a mere 6% for domestic use. Disturbingly, Pakistan reached the water stress line in 1990 and surpassed the water scarcity line in 2005, becoming the fourth highest water-consuming country in the world.
According to Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Pakistan’s water availability per capita has dwindled to 1017 cubic meters, a significant decline from 1500 cubic meters in 2009. Alarming projections suggest that if this availability drops to 500 cubic meters, Pakistan will face absolute water shortage by 2025. The country’s water demand for 2025 is estimated to be 274 million acre feet, while the water supply is projected to reach only 191 million acre feet. Mismanagement, ineffective agricultural systems, poor policy-making, and a lack of awareness about water conservation among the populace contribute significantly to this crisis.
Pakistan relies heavily on rain, melting ice, and glaciers for its water supply, as approximately 92% of the country is semi-barren. However, climate change has accelerated the melting of glaciers, leading to a decline in water availability. Soil water rapidly evaporates due to rising temperatures, further exacerbating the demand for water in agriculture. Tragically, the value of water in Pakistan has plummeted from 5,600 cubic meters at the time of independence to a meager 1,017 cubic meters, leaving nearly 60 million people with no choice but to consume contaminated water.
The scarcity and contamination of water pose severe health risks to the population. Shockingly, 40% of deaths in Pakistan are attributed to waterborne diseases caused by the consumption of contaminated water. Moreover, inadequate water storage infrastructure, with only two major water storage sources in the entire country, leaves Pakistan vulnerable to future water shortages. Unless swift action is taken, Pakistan could become the lowest water-stressed country in the region by 2040.
To combat the water crisis, urgent measures are required. Constructing dams and reservoirs, implementing effective water management policies, and preventing water wastage are crucial steps. The establishment of a Water Regulatory Authority can play a pivotal role in controlling water scarcity and promoting responsible water usage. Furthermore, raising awareness among the public and engaging the media in reporting on environmental issues, particularly climate change and water scarcity, are vital for garnering widespread support.
Pakistan’s water crisis demands immediate attention and concerted efforts from all stakeholders. The nation’s precious water resources are depleting rapidly, posing a threat to public health, food security, and economic stability. It is imperative for the government, policymakers, civil society, and individuals to join forces in tackling this crisis. By implementing sustainable water management practices, constructing additional dams, and fostering a culture of water conservation, Pakistan can secure its water future and ensure a thriving nation for generations to come. Let us act now before it is too late.