ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Water is life, yet in Pakistan, it is running out. There is a water crisis in Pakistan.
Impact of the Water Crisis in Pakistan
Currently, Pakistan is categorized as a water-scarce country because the yearly water availability is less than 1,000 cubic meters per person. The country crossed this level in 2005. If it reaches 500 cubic meters, it will become a country that is absolutely scarce of water by 2025. The effect of the water crisis in Pakistan is already being felt among people. In Pakistan, 80 percent of people living in 24 major cities do not have access to clean water. In the slums of Karachi, 16 million do not have access to running water.
For many people who do not have running water, they are dependent on water trucks to fill their personal and family water tanks. A water truck may come only once a week. The lack of running water is being exploited by what is called the water mafia, which is a group of people that siphon water from the government that is meant for local people. In turn, the water mafia sells the water to residents for higher prices. Although the government has tried to crack down on water mafia groups, the mafia groups still exist.
What is Causing the Water Crisis in Pakistan?
- Population Increase: Pakistan is the sixth-largest country in the world with more than 220 million people. Pakistan’s population in 2010 was 179.42 million. By 2025, Pakistan’s water demand could reach 274 million acre-feet while the supply of water could remain at 191 million-acre-feet.
- Agriculture: The commonly grown agriculture crops in the country are highly dependent on water. The country grows rice, wheat, cotton and sugarcane. Crops like these are responsible for 95 percent of the country’s water use. Poor water management in Pakistan is causing high water waste within the agriculture sector. Pakistan has an inefficient irrigation system that causes a 60 percent water loss. In addition, Pakistan has low water productivity in comparison with other countries. Water productivity “is defined as the physical or economic output per unit of water application.” Pakistan uses a lot more water to produce crops than in other countries.
- Climate Change: Pakistan gets its water from rainfall and rivers as well as snow and glaciers melting. Because the rain is seasonal and 92 percent of the country is semi-arid, Pakistan is dependent on the rain for its water supply. Pakistan is facing an increasing demand for food while it is experiencing a reduction in the water supply. One of the reasons that Pakistan will face an increase in water demand could be because of climate change, which could increase the demand for water for crops. Climate change could cause the water in the soil to evaporate faster, which could increase the demand for water.
Helping the Water Crisis in Pakistan
In 2018, the Pakistan government called upon both national and international Pakistani to help fund a $14 billion project to build two dams. The goal of the dam is to help Pakistan store more water and to supply the country with electricity. Although several Pakistani celebrities have donated towards the dam, there is still a lot of money needed to complete the project.
The government needs to take certain steps to slow down the water crisis in Pakistan. The Pakistan Academy of Sciences said that the country needs to expand its water storage, reduce water waste, improve water productivity and develop a framework that will help with the management of surface and groundwater. Although the clock is ticking for Pakistani’s water supply, the government has started to act. Hopefully, it will be able to undo some of the damage before it is too late.
– Joshua Meribole