Water Crisis in Pakistan

“Water is precious, use it wisely” says a notice placed in the bathroom of a five star hotel. There could not be a sounder piece of advice but it should be given not only to the guests of the five star hotels but also to the entire citizenry of Pakistan. Pakistan is rapidly moving to the situation when it will begin to be ranked among the countries that have severe shortages of fresh water. Wise use of this precious resource is one way of dealing with this crisis.

Man is a pre-eminently an animal good at gadgets. Man uses water much in the same way as other animals; he has to drink it constantly, washes in it frequently, and drowns in it occasionally – probably oftener than other terrestrial vertebrates. Without water, he dies as miserably as any other beast and with too much of it, as in floods, he is equally unable to cope. However, he excels other animals in that he has learned to utilize waterpower.
There are three basic uses of water in the modern civilization– agriculture, industry and human consumption. Using water wisely in these three uses is one way of saving the country from economic and social disaster.

Water is one of the most important natural resource and the major driving force for the economy of Pakistan. Only a few decades ago, Pakistan was considered to have abundance of good quality water. Now, however, in many other area of the world, population growth, economic development, rapid urbanization and industrialization, are applying continuous pressure on the already limited water resources of Pakistan.

Pakistan is now towards a serious shortage of water. In 1951, per capita surface water availability for irrigation was estimated at 5650 cubic metres; this declined sharply to only 1350 cubic metres per head in 2002. The minimum amount that should be available is 1000 cubic metres. 2012, Pakistan will have reached the stage of “acute water shortage”.


• Pakistan has exhausted its current water capability and needs to take immediate measure to sustain its water-driven economy.
• Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water. India stores 120 to 220 days, Colorado River in the US stores 900 days.
• Pakistan’s per capita water storage is just 150 cubic meters while that of China is 2200, Australia 5000 and the US is 5000.
Pakistan’s economy can only be propelled into future only through building new water projects and canals.


President Musharraf said, “Water and energy are matters of life and death for us. We have to build all dams. We have lagged far behind and have to work at a fast pace to catch up with the rest of the world.”

We are facing an existing water shortage by 9 million-acre feet and by 2020 this short fall will be up to 20 maf. Constructing two to three dams is inevitable for us by the year 2020. By building mega water reservoirs our canals will become perennial and no longer be seasonal. New reservoirs will generate 10000 mw of power, which would certainly bring down the rate of electricity. One dam will bring an additional 2 maf of water to Sindh, two dams will fetch 4 maf and another dam will bring water equal to storage capacity of Mangla Dam.

Apart from Diamer-Bhasha and Kalabagh, the water vision envisages construction of Akori, Munda and Kuram Tungi Dams by the year 2016.


Tariq Hameed, Chairman Wapda says,“Pakistan is fortunate that nature has bestowed it with abundant water reservoirs. It is now up to us to harness these resources for the economic development and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.”

1) Presently, out of total cultivable land of 77.1 million acres, we are only cultivating 54.5 million acres because of shortage of water.
2) With the increase in population, Pakistan will have a shortfall of 11 million tons of major food grains by 2010 and 16 million tons by 2020. This food grain deficit will increase to 28 million tons by 2025.
3) High power tariff burdening consumers can be reduced by correcting hydel-thermal generation ratio of 30-70, which used to be the opposite in 1970.
4) Only 14 % of Pakistan’s total hydropower potential of 50,000 mw being tapped at present.
5) Average hydel generation unit cost for new projects is Rs. 1.00/KWH against Rs. 7.00/KWH for new oil based thermal generation.
6) Pakistan’s electricity demand and increasing by 7 % per annum.
7) Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy; 23.3 % of GDP.
8) 64 % Pakistanis depend on agriculture.
9) 60-70 % of exports depend on it.

10) Pakistan today is among one of the world’s fastest growing populations now estimated at over 150 million. Due to the lack of large river regulation capability through sizable storages, the country is facing serious shortages in food grains. Given the present trend, Pakistan could soon become one of the food deficit countries in the near future. Therefore, there is a dire need to build storages for augmenting agriculture production. Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs have already lost about 5 maf due to sedimentation. It is estimated that by the year 2012, this loss would increase to the original combined capacity of Mangla and Chashma reservoirs.

11) Industrial expansion and growth essential for economic development and prosperity.
12) It will provide the better clean environment for the human beings.
13) Reduction in barren lands.
14) To control flooding and manage rivers.
15) The completion by India of Wuller, Buglihar and Krishenganga, Uri-11 Pakaldul and Burser projects on the western rivers of Indus, Jehlum and Chenab to which Pakistan has the exclusive right according to the 1960 Indus Basin Water Treaty, will also create serious water shortage.

1) Hydropower Generation

High power tariff, which is a burden on consumer, can be reduced by correcting hydel thermal generation ratio of 30-70, which used to be the opposite in 1970. Only 40% of Pakistan’s total hydro power potential of 50000MW is being tapped at present. Average hydel generation cost for new projects is Rs 1.007/Kwh as against Rs 7/Kwh for new oil base thermal generation. Pakistan’s electricity demands are increasing by 7% per annum.

Saving import of fuel for thermal power plants reduce cost of electrically i.e. Rs1/Kwh. Electrification of industries of towns and villages. Reduces cost of electricity help manufacturers.

2) Agriculture
Agriculture forms the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. 23.3% of GDP, 64% Pakistanis depend directly on agriculture. 60-70% exports depend on it. Water is a life line for agriculture. Average rainfall of Pakistan is below Avg. Thus, water storage is needed for agriculture as it is a precious resource and we should not waste a drop of it.

Out of Pakistan total geographical area only 17.1Macre is suitable for agriculture. A total of 44.4Macres of agriculture land is irrigated besides only 10Macres Barani land under cultivation. If water is available the remaining 22.6Macres of land(29% of total suitable area for agriculture) can turn productive if no additional water is tapped. It means that 1/3 of agriculture potential will remain untapped.

3) Industry
4) Drinking Water And Sanitation

Pakistan’s population is increasing by over 2% per year requiring availability of more clean drinking water. Cities, towns, Villages expanding requiring more water for sanitation purposes.
Implementation of clean drinking water schemes possible with availability of more water.

5) Environment

Better clean environment for humans. Reduction in barren land. Controlled rivers and canals.
More land area under cultivation, greenery and habitation to improve better water management and cleanliness. More forests and eco system preservation and flood control.



Water as a Source of Income

Water covers 70% of Earth’s surface. Yet only a tiny fraction of Earth’s water is the accessible freshwater we need to live, grow food, sustain the environment, and power our cities and jobs. Growing cities and populations and a changing climate are placing unprecedented pressures on water. According to the World Economic Forum, water crises are among the top risks to global economic growth. For at least 650 million people, even the water they are able to find is unsafe.

But this also offers an opportunity to provide safer water and better manage our water resources for a more resilient future.In Africa, an estimated 40 billion working hours are spent fetching water, usually by women (UN Development Programme). Better access to safer water frees up time, enhances health and offers the potential for new opportunities.

Most job creators rely heavily on water for their day to day business, if not as an actual ingredient in the products they sell.  Those jobs are dependent on a steady supply of clean water, and thus have a stake in better, more sustainable water resource management. Today, almost half of the word’s 1.5 billion workers are working in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery.

Some products are highlighted that explains the interlinkages between water and economic development.

  • “Analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and special interventions are required to ensure that women benefit from the economic opportunities that water generates.”
  • “In the past five years, more than 50% of the world’s power utility and energy companies have experienced water-related business impacts. At least two-thirds indicate that water is a substantive risk to business operations. As the world’s population reaches 9 billion, competing demand for water from other sectors is expected to grow, potentially exacerbating the issue.
  • “The benefits from meeting the water supply and sanitation (WSS) targets combined equal over US$60 billion annually. The main contributor to benefits from universal coverage of WSS is the value of time savings from closer access and reduced queuing for sanitation and water supply facilities, which account for more than 70% of total benefits globally. ”
  • “Improved Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) access may influence nutrition outcomes by increasing the productivity of home gardens, leading to more nutritious food intake, and enabling more time and resources for caregiving by reducing time spent fetching water and caring for sick children and time and costs associated with seeking health treatment.

Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

Given that they cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and provide about 90% of the planet’s habitable space by volume the oceans tend to get short shrift when it comes to climate change. The leaked draft of the forthcoming coming new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the atmospheric warming we’re likely to see, the rate of ice loss in the Arctic and the unprecedented (at least within the last 22,000 years) rate of increase of concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. But when it came to the oceans, press reports only focused on how warming would cause sea levels to rise, severely inconveniencing those of us who live on land. Some of that ignorance is due to the out of sight, out of mind nature of the underwater world place human beings have only seen about 5% of. But it has more to do with the relative paucity of data on how climate change might impact the ocean. It’s not that scientists don’t think it matters the reaction of the oceans to increased levels of CO2 will have an enormous effect on how global warming impacts the rest of us it’s that there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty around the subject. But here’s one thing they do know: oceans are absorbing a large portion of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere in fact; oceans are the largest single carbon sink in the world, dwarfing the absorbing abilities of the Amazon rain forest. But the more CO2 the oceans absorb, the more acidic they become on a relative scale, because some of the carbon reacts within the water to form carbonic acid. This is a slow-moving process it’s not as if the oceans are suddenly going to become made of hydrochloric acid. But as two new studies published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change shows, acidification will make the oceans much less hospitable to many forms of marine life and acidification may actually to serve to amplify overall warming. The first study, by the German researchers Astrid Wittmann and Hans-O. Portner, is a meta-analysis looking at the specific effects rising acid levels are likely to have on specific categories of ocean life: corals, echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans and fishes.

Every category is projected to respond poorly to acidification, which isn’t that surprising pH, which describes the relative acidity of a material, is about as basic a function of the underlying chemistry of life as you can get. (Lower pH indicates more acidity.) Rapid changes and the ocean is acidifying rapidly, at least on a geological time scale will be difficult for many species to adapt to. Corals are likely to have the toughest time. The invertebrate species secretes calcium carbonate to make the rocky coastal reefs that form the basis of the most productive and beautiful ecosystems in the oceans. More acidic oceans will interfere with the ability of corals to form those reefs. Some coral have already shown the ability to adapt to lower pH levels, but combined with direct ocean warming which can lead to coral bleaching, killing off whole reefs many scientists believe that corals could become virtually extinct by the end of the century if we don’t reduce carbon emissions.

The Nature Climate Change study found that mollusks like oysters and squids will also struggle to adapt to acidification, though crustaceans like lobsters and crabs which build lighter exoskeletons seem likely to fare better. With fish it’s harder to know, though those species that live among coral reefs could be in trouble should the coral disappear. But ultimately, as the authors point out, “all considered groups are impacted negatively, albeit differently, even by moderate ocean acidification.” No one gets out untouched.

The other Nature Climate Change study by American, German and British researchers looked at the effects that ocean acidification could have on atmospheric warming. It turns out there may be some feedback the researchers found that as the pH of the oceans dropped, it would result in lower concentrations of the biogenic sulfur compound dimethylsulphide (DMS). Why does that matter? Marine emissions of DMS are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulfur. (Man made sources of sulfur include the burning of coal.) Sulfur, in the form of sulfur dioxide, isn’t a greenhouse gas. But higher levels of sulfur in the atmosphere can reduce the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface, causing a cooling effect. (In the aftermath of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which threw millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, average global temperatures the two years fell by about 0.5 C.) If acidification decreases marine emissions of sulfur, it could cause an increase in the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface, speeding up warming which is exactly what the Nature Climate Change study predicts. It’s one more surprise that the oceans have in store for us.

Water and Dam

What was climate change to me? It was when it rained a lot and flooded someone house in nearby colony of Pathan’s near my sector. Every household was flooded with water, destroying everything. Let me give you more detail. This village was near a gala which was over flooded due to extensive rain. It was raining non-stop that day, lightning striking and windows shaking. It was really scary.

At that time, we as children pray that it do not rain ever again. But at that time we did not understand that rain is not the problem that flood any area or any community living in them. It is about how city plan is made, and if any more dams are build or not. From a young age, we are learning from our academic studies that to retain water we need to build dams. Dams are important because they provide water for domestic, industry and irrigation purposes. Dams often also provide hydroelectric power production and river navigation.

Due to lack of dams, annually 20 million acre feet of water go wasted in the country. The flow of river water is 145 million acre-feet and only 13 percent of it is stored while the growing population is facing a severe shortage of the natural resource.

If we are to store the water and fulfill the needs of our population, dams are required.