Water scarcity in Pakistan and the future strategy

Water scarcity in Pakistan and the future strategy

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is among the world's 36 most water-stressed countries and if proper planning was not done right now for water conservation, the situation would get worsen with the increase in population, according to a statement issued here on Wednesday.

More than 35 percent of the population of our country lacked access to safe drinking water and this figure could double in the next 5 to 10 years as still there was no feasible planning for water development projects.

Pakistan has the necessary natural endowment and world's most extensive irrigation system, but harnessing these assets required construction of small and large dams throughout the country because such water reservoirs would meet the rising water demand, hamper torrential floods and help exploit the 50,000MW hydropower potential of the country.

It was a pity that the current total dam storage capacity of the country was to meet only 30 days of average demand compared to 1,000 for Egypt and 220 for India.

Pakistan has built only three mega dams and scores of small barrages since 1947 while China and India have constructed 22,000 and 4,200 small and large dams respectively to meet their water needs.

Per capita water storage in the US stood at 6,150 cubic meters, in Australia at 5,000 cubic meters, but in Pakistan it was only 135 cubic meters, which showed that Pakistan was highly vulnerable in terms of water storage capacity.

According to IMF estimates, demand for water in Pakistan was projected to reach 274 million acre-feet (MAF) by 2025 while due to lack of water storage facilities, supply was expected to remain stagnant at 191 MAF showing a demand-supply gap of 83 MAF.

This situation called for construction of more water reservoirs to save the country from a terrible water crisis and to ensure sustainable future socio-economic development of the country.