A wake up call
With only 121 cubic meters of per capita designed live water storage capacity per person, Pakistan ranks better only than Ethiopia. Other numbers highlighted in the recently released report on Pakistan’s water security compiled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) suggest that the situation is quite alarming and our efforts to address it insufficient.
A failure to increase water availability by at least 14.2% will result in Pakistan not being able to meet demand by 2025. With the effects of global warming becoming more profound every year it is frightful to note that since 1990 water availability has declined by almost 806 cubic metres per inhabitant.
Depleting reserves of ground water, increasing population and users of water multiplying are just some of the underlying issues that are contributing to our worsening water security. But the real issue is the lack of attention that successive governments including military dictatorships have given to water scarcity.
The current government has also failed to ensure water security satisfactorily as avoidable delays in the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Power Project have given India time to complete its Kishanganga Dam upstream in order to legally secure a larger portion of the water on Neelum meaning that Neelum-Jehlum will not be getting the required amount of water downstream to produce the expected 969 megawatts.
But increasing storage capacity alone is not enough. It requires a parallel effort to use precious water that is available more efficiently. Currently unhindered availability is taken for granted causing wastage. A combination of awareness campaigns and financial deterrents such as water metering is necessary to achieve this.
We can continue the dispute with India over the Indus Water Treaty. Our position will remain weak as we are unwilling to help ourselves by doing what is under our control domestically. It is imperative now more than ever that the government and all citizens realise the dangers of water scarcity and start doing their part in working towards a solution together.