Another report suggests that Pakistan ranks 14 out of 17 countries designated as “extremely high water-risk” nations.
Prof. Dr. Abdullah G Arijo
One negative by-product of industrialization is environmental pollution which can adversely impact human health. When companies do not pay for the environmental damage they cause, or when these harms are not captured in pricing, this is considered a negative externality. The cost burden is placed on human society in the form of deforestation, extinction of species, widespread pollution, excessive waste, and other forms of environmental degradation. One such negative payback is the water issue in Pakistan and elsewhere.
In a recent report the United Nations has placed Pakistan in “critical water insecure category.” This must raise the eyebrows of the common man in general, and policymakers in particular.
According to a recent report published by PIDE, Islamabad, more than 80 per cent of Pakistanis face “severe water scarcity” for at least one month each year. The report suggests that Pakistan ranks 14 out of 17 countries designated as “extremely high water-risk” nations.
Another report published by the United Nations Institute of Water, Environment, and Health has placed Pakistan and 22 other countries in the “critically water insecure” category. (Daily Dawn 25/3/23))
The UN University very recently released the Global Water Security 2023 Assessment, which stated that 33 countries from three different geographic regions have high levels of water security. Nevertheless, all regions also featured countries with low levels of water security.
In a press release announcing the report, it was stated that the most recent assessment of the world’s water resources, conducted by United Nations water experts, revealed that access to managed drinking water and sanitation was “still a pipe dream for more than half of the global population, as more than 70 per cent, or 5.5 billion people, do not have safe water access, with Africa having the lowest levels of access, at only 15 per cent of the region’s population.”
In years to come, due to climate change, there can be severe melting of glaciers, resulting in super floods in our rivers and ultimately the sea level may rise. It is therefore required to address the water issue in Pakistan, or we will be suffering the most.
Reports also rank Pakistan among the list of 10 most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. The country is already facing climate-related threats to water resources as is evident from the change in recent monsoon patterns, melting glaciers, rising temperatures and relapse of floods and droughts. Pakistan has witnessed a number of floods in the past several years and long spells of drought. For example, the 2010 floods caused direct losses of more than US$10 billion and 1,600 deaths and affected 38,600 square kilometers. Similarly, Quetta and most parts of Balochistan experienced eight years of drought-like situations from 1997 to 2005.
Climate change may decline aggregate water flows in the future. In future, most projections show a declining trend and increased variability of the flows (50 to 75 years). It is reported that the Indus River Basin, Pakistan’s chief water source, being dependent on glacial and snowmelt and precipitation, is highly sensitive to climate change. It has already shrunk into a canal in the Sindh Province where many farmers have migrated to urban areas due to a shortage of water, and this trend is continuing.
Given the fact that snow and ice melt runoff currently generates between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of average water flows in the Indus River basin, this will result in landslides, heavy flooding, dam bursts and soil erosion initially and drought and famine in the long run (PIDE, Islamabad).
Experts are also of the opinion that in years to come, due to climate change, there can be severe melting of glaciers, resulting in huge water in our rivers, which may be a cause of super floods and eventually there shall be huge water flowing through rivers and ultimately the sea level may rise and with the result cities at the seaside will have to tell us different stories. It is therefore required to address the water issue in Pakistan, or we will be suffering the most.
About the Author
Prof. (R) Dr. Abdullah G. Arijo is Advisor and Visiting Professor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Sakrand, Sindh Pakistan. Formerly, he was Chairman, Department of Parasitology, Sindh Agriculture University Tando Jam. After retirement, he also served there as Advisor Academics & P&D to Vice Chancellor. He can be reached at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org