Climate Change Impact on Pakistan’s Water Sector

Concern has been growing in recent years regarding the potential impact of climate change on Pakistan’s already stressed water resources.Rising temperatures, increasing saltwater intrusion in  coastal areas, a growing threat of glacier lake outburst floods, more intense rainfall, and changes in monsoon and winter rainfall patterns are just some of the ways in which climate change is expected to affect Pakistan’s hydrologic resources. These risks amplify an already problematic situation given that Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world. Of particular concern is the potential for climate change to affect water flows within the Indus Basin. The majority of Pakistan’s water is provided through the Indus River and its tributaries, which are fed primarily by snow and ice melt in the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya Mountains. Any change in water flow in the Indus basin will have significant implications for food security in Pakistan given that 90 per cent of total agricultural production occurs on arable land supported by the Indus Basin Irrigation System (Qureshi, 2011).Pakistan relies on the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world. Known as the Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) for its basic food security and water supply for all sectors of the economy, it supports the basin comprising the Indus River main stem and its major tributaries—the Kabul, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers. IBIS has 3 major multipurpose storage reservoirs, 19 barrages, 12 inter-river link canals, 45 major irrigation canal commands (covering over 18 million hectares), and more than 120,000 watercourses delivering water to farms and other productive uses.Despite increased food production, there has been no change over the past two decades in the estimated 25 percent of the population who are undernourished (FAOSTAT 2012). The National Nutrition Survey 2011 reports that 57 percent of the population does not have food security (Bhutta, 2012). The nival regime generates about 35 to 40 percent of total water flow in the Indus Basin (Immerzeel et al., 2010; Mukhopadhyay&Dutta, 2010; Savoskul&Smakhtin, 2013), which arises from the melting of snow that fell during the preceding winter plus spring precipitation.In contrast to the glacial regime, a consistently negative relationship between runoff and temperature has been reported for the nival regime (Yu et al., 2013; Archer & Fowler, 2008).A higher rate of winter precipitation, which would be consistent with historical trends, could lead to higher levels of summer runoff (Archer & Fowler, 2008; Laghari et al., 2012; Yu et al., 2013).All the changes due to climate change point to a greater risk of flooding during the monsoon season in the coming decades (World Bank, 2013).The studies carried out show that the volume of water flow in the Indus Basin will not change significantly prior to 2050 as decreases in glacial melt runoff will be compensated by runoff generated from increasing monsoon rainfall (Laghari et al., 2012; Shrestha et al., 2015; Yu et al., 2013).The scenario assumes that temperatures increase by 3°C, which would lead to an increase in agricultural water requirements of 6 percent by 2025 and 12 to 15 percent by 2050 (Amir and Habib, 2015). The following graph show the increased demand of water by 2050.

Establish a dedicated water demand research program to better understand future sector demands, potential trade-offs between different water users, specific costing for different water uses and actual water-use patterns. Investigate appropriate water pricing policies that will promote more efficient water useand sustainable management of water infrastructure.Strengthen streamflow monitoring in the Upper and Lower Indus basins.Undertake provincial-level vulnerability assessments to fully understand how climatechange will affect their water resources and the associated socioeconomic consequences. Foster the development of a climate change community of practice in Pakistan.

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.

Put a STOP to the Water DROP

Water is the precious blessing of nature and life is impossible without water. It is essential for all forms of life on this planet but the water availability is becoming very scarce in Pakistan with the passage of time. Pakistan by birth is an agro-based economy, agriculture contributes for more than 21.8% in GDP and 70% of exports are associated with this sector. A huge amount of total water available in Pakistan (>95%) is consumed by agricultural sector as majority of the country population (>60%) is related to this sector either directly or indirectly. Population and water demand of Pakistan is increasing rapidly but Per capita water availability is decreasing at an alarming rate, posing adverse impacts on country health and economy and leading towards devastation. The reduced water availability will disturb national economy very badly in multiple ways e.g. reduced agricultural production, hydropower generation potential, industrial activity, disease etc. The growth rate of Pakistan reached to 5.7% in 2018 due effective policies of the government.

Water security is becoming a very hot issue especially for Pakistan as Pakistani Government didn’t pay serious attention regarding this issue and India is busy in blocking our water by forming dams on eastern rivers. Per capita, water availability decreased with the passage of time and reached to 1000 cubic meters in 2015 from 5600 cubic meters in 1947 because water is excessively wasted at houses, offices, markets, and factories. Fresh and drinking water is used for washing, gardening, and other non-drinkable purposes. All these activities ranked Pakistan as 3rd water scarce country, placing human survival at risk and halting all development. Indus river and its tributaries, bring 144 MAF of water annually to Pakistan, more than 90% from western rivers and remaining from eastern rivers. 105 MAF is diverted for irrigation. Of the 105 MAF withdrawn by canal network, approximately 42 percent infiltrates to groundwater reservoir while 3 percent is lost as evaporation or through non-beneficial consumption, including unintended vegetation along banks, and breaches etc. in the conveyance network. The balance 55 percent, or 58 MAF, becomes available to farmers for use in the fields by crops.

Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, a well-known agriculturist said that country’s water storage capacity is decreasing that will badly disturb agricultural and power sector. He said that storage capacity of one of the biggest water project Tarbela Dam and Mangla Dam decreased from 9.69 to 6.56 MAF (32%) and 5.34 to 4.41 MAF (18%) respectively.

Pakistan can store only 10% of its annual rivers flow as compared to the world average of 40%. By 2025, more than 31% population of Pakistan will face severing water shortage. This need for serious steps e.g. imposing water conservation strategies e.g. water metering and charging, building of water reservoirs, dams including Kala-Bagh dam and many other water storage projects. The government allocated 79 billion in the 2018-19 budget for water division including 18 billion for completion of DiaMirBhasha Dam and claimed that by completing this dam water storing capacity will increase from 38 days to 45 days against the minimum requirement of 120 days while most of the developed countries have 1-2 years’ water storage capability.

Pakistan is working on water policy since many years and finally formulated Pakistan’s first water policy 2018 in compliance with National Climate Change Policy 2012. This water policy focuses on sustainable use of water resources, increasing the efficiency of the water system, repairing the downstream leakages, smart metering, treating wastewater and creating effective solutions increasing water efficiency.

Pakistan should work on the serious issue of water scarcity on a priority basis to deal with adverse social and economic impacts. There are 26 water projects in the pipeline, construction activities must be completed on priority basis. Siltation of Tarbela and Mangla dam is reducing total water storage capacity. In this regard Kalabagh dam will the best solution to overcome water crisis by storing 3.2 MAF for next 100 years, will also help in generating renewable 3600 MW hydropower and lowering flood risk due to monsoon rainfall.

Sindh will be worst affected if Kalabagh dam not completed on time because of reduced water supply for irrigation. Some NGO’s and politician for their own benefits are opposing kalabagh dam by saying that this will reduce water supply and be leading to saline intrusion. Actually after the construction of this Sindh will receive additional 2.26 MAF water. This will increase average water supply of Sindh from 37% to 40%. Kalabagh and other such water projects must be completed on a priority basis to solve the upcoming water crisis.


Water Crisis in Pakistan

Pakistan could “run dry” by 2025 as its water shortage is reaching an alarming level. The authorities remain negligent about the crisis that’s posing a serious threat to the country’s stability, DW reports.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn the authorities that the South Asian country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts,’ will be immune to this scarcity,” said Neil Buhne, UN humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan

Dancing around the fire is not the solution to any problem. One should try to see beneath the surface in order and to grasp an idea about the basic issue. Despite a stream of strong words and announcements made by the previous governments of Pakistan, nothing has been done properly in order to counter the water crisis in the country. Rather the situation has taken a quantum leap for the worse.

Water is a source of life but unfortunately, Pakistan is in the grip of its scarcity, which has disturbed the whole national life. The aggravating crisis is gnawing at the public mind and, regrettably, it has considerably contributed towards straining national harmony and there are no sings of tiding over this grim situation.

With the gradual depletion of water resources, the precarious situation is further embittered by the shortage of rainfall which is so essential for the agriculture sector. This deteriorating state has accentuated the feelings of deprivation among the smaller provinces. Exploiting the situation the hard liners in the areas have embarked on lashing Punjab with a heavy stick for its alleged neglect in resolving the share of water and usurping their share.

Pakistan, according to experts, is going through the worst water shortage of history. The current drought in Sindh and Baluchistan has shattered the economy as well as agriculture of the country. Back in fifties, Quetta was considered Pakistan’s prime orchard, which provided fruit for the country and for export as well. However now many growi9ng areas are in critical situation, threatened by over use of ground water and natural droughts.

he direct impacts of water crises in Pakistan have reduced crop, range land, forest productivity and water level. On the other hand, it has increased livestock, wildlife and human beings mortality rates and damaged the wildlife and fish habitats. Direct or primary impacts becomes so diffuse that it’s very difficult to come up with financial estimates of damages.

There are also some social impacts of water crisis in Pakistan, which have mainly involved public safety, health problems, and conflicts between the provinces over water usage. It has also reduced the quality of life.

Environmental losses in Pakistan are the result of damages to plant and animal species, wildlife, air and water quality, degradation of landscape quality, the loss of biodiversity and the social erosion, caused by the drought.

the demography of Pakistan has also changed due to migration of affected population to the already over populated cities. It may increase pressure on the social infrastructure of the country which may enhance poverty, social unrest and ethnicity.