Pakistan’s burgeoning population and poor planning have caused a depletion of the country’s resources, especially water. According to the National Action Plan 2019-20, the per capita availability of water in the country has decreased to an alarming level of 935 cubic metres from 5,260 cubic metres over the last seven decades. If the government fails to formulate an effective conservation strategy now, the per capita availability will be decreased to 860 cubic metres by 2025 and even down to 500 cubic metres by 2040.
Climate change has caused extreme rainfall in some parts of the world, where countries do not have the capacity to store water for later usage. However, Pakistan has received significantly less rainfall in recent years with several parts of the country already experiencing a drought. Now Pakistan has only 30 days of water storage on dams. Apart from this, 49% of losses are due to leakage, seepage, theft, evaporation, agriculture, and industries. A recent World Bank report has pointed out that just four crops (rice, wheat, sugar cane, and cotton) consume 80% water and contribute only 5% to the GDP. It shows that the agriculture sector offers one of the poorest ‘crops per drop’ ratios.
The government needs to realise the seriousness of this issue before the country runs completely dry. The government must take appropriate steps such as building multipurpose dams, strengthening existing reservoirs, formulating trustworthy and clear-cut policies for population-based distribution of water, and reducing water losses from seepage.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2021.