Water scarcity in Pakistan

Water scarcity in Pakistan


By Muhammad Asghar Khan

After the catastrophic year of 2022, the country witnessed a unique pattern of natural hazards that seriously impacted its economy, livelihoods, lifestyle and social fabric also posing challenges of water and food security.

The miseries that people suffered in the flood and drought-hit areas are eye-openers for the policymakers.

There is an immense need for devising prudent strategies to conserve its resources, especially the rapidly declining water resources.

There is immense need to handle the situation which is arising our due to Water scarcity in Pakistan.

 Experts believe that time has come to work out a well-thought-out plan to roll out a water pricing regime with an improved governance model to address the water scarcity issue spiking up in the country.

The situation is alarming as 5,600 cubic meter per capita water availability in 1951 has presently declined to 908 cubic meter per capita, making the country water stressed.

With our population already estimated to cross 220 million from 34 million in 1951, it is feared that the country would soon fall into the water scarce category.

“Around 29 million acre-feet (MAF) water is wasted every year in the country due to poor storage facilities and accumulation of silt in main water reservoirs of Tarbela and Mangla,” remarked former Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Shams- ul- Mulk.

“This water wastage costs our economy in billions of rupees every year. Unchecked population growth and lack of water conservation and storage facilities would be bringing about much harder days ahead,” he warned.

The experts on water related matters believe that as Pakistan’s current Rabi crop is facing 38 percent water shortfall, it is evident that in near future, on one hand we shall be fast losing our water reserves and on the other hand spending our precious foreign exchange on the import of food items. Shrinking river water resources and massive pumping out of groundwater is another challenge as mentioned by Pakistan Water Gateway, a non-governmental water-research portal.

Losses in Pakistan due to unprecedented floods: Meanwhile standing crops cultivated on millions of acres of land were washed away besides ruining livestock and infrastructure by the floods in Pakistan.

One third of the country came under flood water which destroyed standing crops like cotton, tomatoes, fruits and many others.

According to experts on agriculture related matters the floods had affected around 700,000 acres of agriculture land in Rajanpur and DG Khan alone.

An area of around 270,000 acres of land in Rajanpur got affected due to floods where cotton crop was standing.

Damages in DG Khan and Rajanpur: The farmers faced around Rs12 billion losses due to damaging of cotton crop in Rajanpur and DG Khan alone.

Moreover, the crop of rice and Mong pulse were badly affected which were cultivated on a large scale in Punjab.

The 60 percent of the area of Sindh meant for agriculture came under floodwater and districts like Jacobabad, Kashmore were the worst affected areas amongst others.

A total of 1.2 million acres of land meant for agriculture, both in Punjab and Sindh were severely damaged.

Import of wheat because of floods: As a result of these devastation caused by the floods, Pakistan had no other option but to import wheat to meet the local demand.

This is pertinent to mention here that around 10 years ago Pakistan used to export wheat and now the country is dependent on its import to fulfill its demand due to wrong policies of the government.

Since the inception of the country, no water channels could be made for the rainwater which comes from Koh-e-Suleman which is a long mountain range.

 How to handle the situation: The government can manage floods in these areas by making watercourses on which hardly Rs2 billion expenses would incur.

A little bit of agriculture friendly policies of the government can make the country financially rather independent at least in food items and cotton.

On the other hand, entire crops in Mirpurkhas District got damaged due to floods.

The crop of cotton was badly affected while the crop of sugarcane had faced less damages as it was pretty strong when flood water hit the area.

The standing crops of onion and tomatoes in Sindh were severely damaged due to unexpected floods.


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