Pakistan is dangerously water stressed. The World Bank, in a report back in 2006, stated that Pakistan is sprinting from a ‘water scarce’ country to becoming a ‘water stressed’ country and within a decade a ‘water famine’ country. Major factors behind this sprint are: negligence in developing a national water strategy, public’s inappropriate attitude toward water conservation & consumption and lack of population planning.
To be certain, per capita water availability in Pakistan is plummeting-falling hard and falling fast. To be sure, water resource management is yet to be taken up by the government and the society as a serious development issue. Rivers are running drier, ground water polluted and over-exploited, water infrastructure in shambles. And yet, Pakistan’s water usage is categorized among the worst in the world.
According to the World Bank’s 2006 Study, Pakistan is more water stressed than is Ethiopia.
The study showed that among the 25 most populous countries in 2009, “South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations.”
The report claims that:
“India and China, however, are not far behind with per capita renewable water resources of only 1600 and 2100 cubic meters per person per year. Major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2300 (Germany) to 3000 (France) cubic meters per person per year. The United States of America, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation - with 31900 and 42500 cubic meters per person per year.”
In addition to the World Bank report, the UN’s World Water Development Report states that the “total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005.” That indeed is a 50 percent drop in actual renewable water resources over a mere 5-year period-and an additional 50 percent drop is bound to strangle Pakistan’s water-based economic activities by year 2015.
A recent reputable study speculates that available supply of water is just a little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which categorizes Pakistan as among one of the highly stressed countries. Even ifthe official data of Pakistan’s Planning Commission is used, the water availability has decreased from 1,299 cubic meters per capita in 1996-97 to 1,101 cubic meters in 2004-05.
The rapid speed of population growth, unplanned urbanization, no water policy, industrialization and insensitivity of public on water management will worsen the situation in another five to ten years. It is feared that if the current trend is allowed to tread its path Pakistan’s per capita water availability shall go down to 550-cubic meters by 2025.
As of December 2008, nearly 36 percent of groundwater was classified as “highly saline” and unfit for human, and animal, consumption. Water table is plummeting in all urban and town centers but, amazingly, water mining goes on while the annual growth rate of electric and diesel tube wells stands at 6.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Extreme water scarcity means a definite threat to Pakistan’s social, economic and political stability.
If the present trend continues, Pakistan, and Pakistanis, will cry for water-but there will be no water just tears of regret.
Source: CENTER for RESEARCH and SECURITY STUDIES ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN