Background of water scarcity in Pakistan
Pakistan currently have only two large dams Mangla and Tarbela, these dams are decades old and after that governments did not construct any large dam. However, under the leadership of Imran Khan in 2020 he laid the foundation of the Diamer Bhasha Dam in Gilgit Baltistan stating the growing need to save water as water scarcity in Pakistan is increasing. This is because currently the yearly availability of water is less than 1,000 cubic meter per person.
Looking back in 2009, Pakistan’s water availability was 1500 cubic meters which is not considered to be scarce. It is estimated that that these levels will reach to 500 cubic meters in 2025 which is considered to be absolute scarce, this will create some major challenges for Pakistan. This is because 95% of water is used in agriculture which is the major part of Pakistani economy. Rice, wheat, cotton and sugarcane which are all grown in excess quantity in Pakistan use a lot of water and also another major concern is that water productivity is lowest in the region. Moreover, the inefficient irrigation system results in a loss of 60% of water.
Other alarming stats show that 80% of people living in 24 major cities do not have access to clean water. Moreover, Karachi which is considered a metropolitan of Pakistan its 16 million citizens does not have access to running water. This problem has given rise to another problem of ‘water mafia’ which provides water to households in water tankers at a hefty price, this mafia uses water that the government provides for household for their own gains
What is causing the Water Crisis in Pakistan?
- Population Increase: as Pakistan is the 6th largest population with 220 million people, with water demand reaching 274 million acre-feet by 2025 and water supply remaining 191 million-acre-feet.
- India Not keeping the promise of Indus water Treaty.
- Climate Change
- Loss of water in agriculture.
As the main source of water in Pakistan is groundwater, rainwater and rivers. Pakistan does not do much to save the rainwater and it wasted every year. One positive development that is seen in 2020 is that in Lahore on July 8th the provincial government inaugurated its first rainwater storage facility.
This facility will store around 1.37 million gallons or 100mm of rainwater from the surrounding areas of Lawrence Road. Punjab Irrigation department estimates suggests that ground water has dropped from 30-40 feet to 700-800 feet in most areas during the past two decades. As the city receives an annual downpour of 628 to 670 mm there is still a lot of ground to store this rainwater.
Moreover, this project took around 3 months to complete and it will be mainly used for horticulture. However, with proper water treatment this water can also be used in industrial and other places. Benefits of this project are yet to be seen but this is a step in the right direction to recycle water but there is an urgent need to take actions like these to save water. Other Provincial governments can invest in projects like this or construct reservoirs to store rain water which usually causes floods every year.