Water scarcity leads to Food insecurity

“Global Warming is not a prediction, it is happening”

Climate change is a global phenomenon, but their impacts are more pronounced in South Asia during the past few decades, which challenges food security in this region.

Thus, Pakistan facing frequent climate change induced annual drought and floods. Once, Pakistan known a water surplus country and now a water deficient country. The rain fall is neither sufficient, nor regular, to meet the growing needs of water. Yet we are wasting water on daily bases.

The surface water resources in Pakistan mainly the Indus River and its tributaries, which bring is about 138 million acre feet of water annually. The Indus River alone provide 65% of the total river flows.

The flow during the Kharif is 84% and during Rabi season is 16% in Pakistan.

Pakistan always face food shortage due to water scarcity and 47% population is food insecure. The production of food is greatly dependent on irrigation. So, Pakistan required new strategies to enhance water use efficiency, maintain and improve the quality and sustainability of resources base at Basin and water shed level. Pakistan need to invest soon in increasing rain water harvesting by increasing storage capacity of water.

Long term strategies may include the construction of large storage dams, better flood and drought forecasting mechanisms and resolving water distribution problems in all over Pakistan.

Short term strategies to save water are careful use of water in our daily use, campaigns and advocacy to ensure lesser water wastage, people in urban areas are wasting a lot of water in car wash, street cleaning, and other recreational activities these need to stop. Because water we waste in urban areas are causing a lot of trouble for the people in rural areas and causing damage to our agriculture. We are killing the rights of the people who are now deprived of the water because of our wastage of water.

Bagasse as Alternate Energy Source in Pakistan

The energy demand of Pakistan is increasing rapidly; the country is finally exploring alternatives to expand its power production. Pakistan has to rely largely on fossils for their energy production since electricity generation from biomass is considered. Globally biomass is being used on large scale for energy production as an alternative to fossil fuels. Pakistan is among the world’s top-10 sugarcane producers. So, the potential for generating electricity from bagasse is huge (3000 MW).  Currently, there are around 83 sugar mills in Pakistan producing about 3.5 million metric tons of sugar per annum with total crushing capacity 597900 TCD, which can produce approximately 3000 MW during the crop season. Although it seems difficult at that moment, if the government starts to give more attention to sugar industry biomass rather than coal, Pakistan can fulfill its energy needs without negative repercussions or damage to the environment. However, by focusing on growing its alternate energy options such as bagasse-based cogeneration, the country will not only mitigate climate change but also tap the unharnessed energy potential of sugar industry biomass.

Almost all the sugar mills in Pakistan have in-house plants for cogeneration. But the problem is that there are some negative points that must be dealt with properly for effective working of bagasse based power plants. However, due to several reasons, mostly due to financing issues, the sugar mill owners were not able to set up such type of plants. Recently, after financial incentives have been offered and a tariff rate agreed upon between the government and mill owners, these projects are moving ahead. The sugar mill owners are more than willing to supply excess electricity generated from the in-house power plants to the national grid. It would also have saved precious foreign exchange which is spent on imported oil. Renewable energy projects are developed through Carbon Development Mechanism or carbon credit scheme for additional revenue.

Since bagasse is a clean fuel which emits very little carbon emissions it is being financed through the Clean Development Mechanism. High cogeneration power plants are difficult to implement because of higher costs. The payback period for the power plants is unknown which makes the investors reluctant to invest in the high cogeneration project. CDM financing can help improve the rate of return of the project. Bagasse power plants reduce carbon emission in two ways;

  • One by replacing electricity produced from fossil fuels.
  • Secondly if not used as a fuel, it would be otherwise disposed of in an unsafe manner and the methane emissions present in biomass would pollute the environment far more than CO2

However, some sugar mills are opting to use coal as a secondary fuel because the crushing period of sugarcane lasts only 4 months in Pakistan. The plants would have to be run on coal as the main fuel during the non-crushing season. The CDM effect is reduced with the use of coal. If a high cogeneration plant is using even 80% bagasse and 20% of coal, then the carbon credits are almost nullified. If more than 20% of coal is used, then the CDM potential is completely lost because the emissions are increased. However, some sugar mills are not moving ahead with coal as a secondary fuel because separate tariff rates have to be obtained for electricity generation if coal is being used in the mix which is not easily obtained.

The issue that remains to be addressed is that with such huge amounts of investment in these plants, how to use these plants efficiently during the non-crushing period when bagasse is not available. It seems almost counter-productive to use coal on plants which are supposed to be based on biofuels. The use of coal as a secondary fuel in cogeneration power plant is still debatable.

A Day Without Implanting a Tree, is a Wasted day

Almighty nature has bestowed us with a lot of natural beauties and a well-adjusted environment on the earth, which are the main source for our survival for in this world. But indifference, we have left nothing to destroy the ecosystem of the earth in this beautiful & smoothly ecosphere. In today’s era, where science has left remarkable as well unbelievable victories on the map of the world but it has also increased enormous harmful elements.

In this regard, if we talk on the ecosystem of earth, we get shrieked and cried that advanced and developed countries of the world have also damaged a lot to ecosystem though generating pollution & contamination to the neat & clean environment of the shining world.

However, in an atmosphere, where there is need of great care, if someone, who is playing a very positive role by contributing his good service through protecting the troposphere is an act of good deed.

An underprivileged but very hospitable community of village named Barr Jo Dhorro (Abdul Rehman Jatt) has been contributing their best services by planting trees in their village. When walking through this village, one cannot stop his admiration for greenery of trees, they had grown around their village.

While visiting this village, I found it a very neat & clean settlement, which was an ODF free environment. However, the structure of each household was so attractive, where everything was seemed to be placed in a smooth pattern. Besides, all the village was surrounded by the long trees, which were grown by them on self-initiatives.

During my talk with an old man of village about their past life experiences, Mr. Hasaan Jatt told that earlier period was so good because every village was well off & well-to-do due to bumper crop and it was all because we had huge access to irrigation water and timely rains, which could help us to grow our fertile lands but as the time passes, we receive insufficient water as well no rain due to investing our ecosystem. This has become our life disturbed. He more added that cutting of trees has become the hobby of some timber mafia people here in our surroundings but in contrast people of our village are so conscious to grow the trees in our village, so that at least we feel it our prime responsibility to protect our environment, which is our survival otherwise, our future generation will perish if we did not care for it. He further talked that every human on earth must plant a tree so that our environment and survival might be protected.

I was wondered that how an old man is so sensible & conscious for the protection of our surroundings. It was a moment of huge learning for me and I thought would that every human thinks about that old man, who is standing on verge of last moments of his life but cares a lot for the safety of the world environment.

By concluding this, I wondered and whispered myself that which factors are the responsible, who have been damaging this attractive ecosystem, which cannot be found on the map of the universe.

Therefore, it must be a prime responsibility to circulate the message of the plant a tree, which would be counted as a prayer and worship that would save the existence of breathing and living belongings. However, pollution is no less than cancer disease, which is destructing nature day by day but the concerned authority does not seem to be so serious for awareness about its dangers. The things must be resounded timely to protect from the maximum loss. The slogan must be echoed of “SAVE ENVIRONMENT, SAVE EXISTENCE”.


Environmental Degradation

One of the major causes of poverty in Pakistan is environmental degradation. Because it affects and causes in the reduction of natural resources such as air, water, and soil; besides in Pakistan, there is the high destruction of ecosystems, habitat destruction, deforestation, the extinction of wildlife and pollution. Thousands of people’s sources of income are associated with ecosystems. If it is depleted where then those poor people will go?

The depletion of natural environmental resources have no doubt caused unprecedented rainfall, cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, drought and such other climatic roars that hamper the economic progress of the Pakistan. This, we also have been observing since last two to three decades.

The extreme conditions of the weather in Pakistan like the floods and heavy rains in 1992, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015. Besides cyclone in 1999, the earthquake in 2005, and an ongoing drought-like situation in the desert of the Thar have significantly affected not only the socio-economic situation but also have damaged infrastructure at enormous scale.

The effects of environmental degradation on the economy are irreversible and it is the less touched challenge in Pakistan. The government does not take environmental degradation as a critical issue.

We are an agrarian developing country where about 24pc GDP depends on the agriculture sector. But unfortunately, due to environmental degradation, our economy is encountering huge losses in the sector.

We already are running short of forested areas and the other hand there is the destruction of remaining forested areas, wetlands are being polluted due to disposing of waste water in it, grasslands and pastures have been reduced and agricultural lands are being decayed due to increasing water-logging. Moreover, owing to the environmental dilapidation, several species of birds and plants have become rare. The fish stock in the wetlands has been depleted – the communities who used to depend on fishing are migrated to the semi-urban settlements.

Due to the severe consequences of environmental degradation, we are facing the problems of land degradation, erosion, and super-flooding this destruction ultimately affects the overall national economy and mostly poor and marginalized communities are affected.

There is no role of forestation in GDP of Pakistan; even forestation in Pakistan is on alarmingly declining. Besides, our environmental degradation is ultimately affecting our overall economic spectrum.

According to the findings of Word Bank in partnership with National Disaster Management Authority, the Ministry of Finance, the securities and exchange commission of Pakistan, the provincial disaster management authorities and the provincial finance departments in 2015 stated that Pakistan causes 3 to 4pc economic loss on the federal budget due to flooding and heavy rains.

The report further analyzes that the annual economic impact of flooding is estimated between US $ 1.2 billion and US $ 1.8 billion, equivalent to between 0.5pc and 0.8pc of national GDP; however simulations show that a major flood event (occurring, on average, once every 100 years) could cause losses in excess of US $ 15.5 billion, which equates to around 7pc of national GDP, equivalent to almost 40pc of the Federal Budget.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index (2017) by Germanwatch indicates that Pakistan is at the high global climate risk it is at number 7th. The risks globally have been analyzed between 1996 up to 2015. Furthermore, the report says that Pakistan has faced 133 natural disaster events, where there is 0.647pc loss in GDP and the total loss in million is US$ 3823.17.

This is a very alarming issue in Pakistan and in future can cause lots of humans as well as economic loss. Awareness at the very grassroots level should be initiated. The government should make such a mechanism which could help people understand the importance of environmental degradation. The forestation movements need to be initiated. The students in universities, colleges and schools should be sensitized about increasing environmental degradation and they should be motivated to plan trees.