Water is one of the basic necessities of life. Pakistan has been gifted with abundant water resources, with rivers flowing down the Himalayas and Karakoram heights from the world’s largest glaciers, alongside the bountiful Indus river.
With that being said, Pakistan is predicted to be a water-scarce country by 2035. In this article, we will be exploring the question ‘Is Pakistan running out of water?’
Pakistan and water
Pakistan is basically an agrarian economy. Out of its total geographical area of 79.61 million hectares, the cultivated area is 22.05 million hectares. The total area under irrigation is 19.02 million hectares.
Pakistan is heavily dependent on its canal system as it is essential for agriculture. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for many of the people of Pakistan. Accounting for a 21% contribution to the GDP of the country.
However, with the recent flooding that had taken place between June and August of 2022 the previously mentioned figures may now be skewed. Millions of people have been affected, directly and indirectly, and there have been a massive amount of issues that have come as a result of the flooding. Here are a few:
- Displacement of people
- Homes and buildings destroyed or damaged
- Waterbourne diseases
- Health issues/trauma
- Ruining of agriculture
- Lifetime/long-term injuries
- Community buildings such as schools had been destroyed or damaged badly
- The funding needed to rebuild, compensate and help the victims
Natural disasters are unfortunately relatively common, with different occasions of flooding affecting the country 14 times in the past 30 years. This means that over the past 30 years, there has been an unprecedented amount of displacement, suffering, rebuilding and orphans.
However, the unprecedented degree of flooding that took place this year (which some have said is a result of climate change) has meant that local water sources in the affected areas have become spoiled, on top of Pakistan currently being listed as ‘water stressed’ this presents a worry going forward.
So considering the overabundance of water due to the flooding, how is Pakistan running out of water?
Is Pakistan running out of water?
Of course, flood water does not constitute Pakistan’s water supply. Flood water, due to the massive range of things it has passed through and destroyed means it is not fit for human consumption without it being heavily processed, recycled and cleaned.
Pakistan is currently listed as a ‘water stressed’ nation, which if left unattended can make the country become water scarce by 2035. Is Pakistan running out of water? Sadly, the answer is yes.
Col. Abid, a senior defence analyst and an expert on water management in Pakistan, says that “climate change, the apathy of successive governments towards growing water shortage at all levels, and the lack of planning have resulted in a severe water crisis”
He followed on by saying “The country has reached a stage where its water management system seems to be progressing in the wrong direction,” he argued, adding that “instead of getting better, the crisis is getting worse.”
In 2015 The project “Vulnerability of Pakistan’s Water Sector to the Impacts of Climate Change” was launched, its goal was to improve decision-making capacity within government ministries, research institutes and the general public in relation to water resources management in a changing climate.
Key findings of the project included:
- In the near term, climate change is more likely to impact the timing of peak flow and river flow volume due to variability in precipitation, rather than annual overall flow volume from glacial and snow melt sources. (Unfortunately, the recent floods were a combination of a severe heat wave which melted the glaciers, along with increased rain during the monsoon season. All of which are linked to climate change.)
- Existing knowledge regarding the complex hydrological regime of the Upper Indus Basin is limited, which impedes the development of clear projections of long-term water availability.
- Water demand will continue to increase alongside population growth, leading to greater water scarcity on a per capita basis and pointing to the need for stronger water management practices.
- Priorities for action to address identified gaps in knowledge and capacity include accelerating the uptake of sustainable irrigation practices by smallholder farmers, strengthening post-secondary education in the area of climate change, establishing a repository of water data and analysis, and modernizing Pakistan’s streamflow monitoring network.
Sadly, it seems likely that the findings of this project were neglected, which is evidenced by the extreme scale of destruction due to a lack of preparation by the government.
Although there has been international attention brought to the flooding itself, there is a neglect to mention the ongoing water crisis. So the question, ‘Is Pakistan running out of water?’ will only be asked by those who take the time to research, even though this crisis should be aided by the world as well as Pakistan.
It seems that instead, the political developments of Pakistan seem to take precedence over the country’s actual physical state. Conserving the country and the people you wish to govern should take precedence over everything.
The recent flooding has created a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. The monsoon rainfall has been catastrophic, causing roads, buildings and livestock to wash away. More than 1,700 people have sadly died in the floods, and 2 million homes have been destroyed.
Farmland, schools and hospitals are still surrounded by floodwater, and malnutrition is widespread- due to massive damage to agriculture and crops, preventing the residents from eating. Clean drinking water is also more difficult to come by as a result of the flood.
Around 7.6 million people have been displaced by the climate-driven disaster, with nearly 600,000 living in relief sites. In these relief sites, life-threatening illnesses like cholera and cerebral malaria are spreading– and there are no medications available to treat these.
The close proximity and lack of cleaning amenities for every individual, with the prospect of winter, will mean that many people living in the relief sites may fall ill and spread infection. As we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not take a lot for an outbreak to start.
People in Pakistan are in need of urgent financial support so that they can access food, clean water, shelter, sanitation, medical treatment, warm clothing and essential supplies to help them recover from this devastating crisis.
Flood victims are now facing losses in household incomes and assets, as well as rising food prices- which will potentially push 9 million more people below the poverty line.
To support people affected by the floods, we at Zohra Foundation are accepting donations to the Pakistan Flood Appeal. Any money you donate will fund emergency relief for people who are struggling to survive.
In particular, the elderly have been unable to react to the flooding as quickly as others. So your donations will provide urgent medical care, food and shelter. This will help support flood victims with their health, hygiene and hunger.
Every penny helps – donate whatever you can today to help rebuild lives and restore hope, as Pakistan braces for a harsh winter. As a charity that operates with our Islamic faith in mind, we always remind ourselves and our donators that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“Give sadaqah without delay for it stands in the way of calamity” (Tirmidhi)
You can choose to make a one-off donation or donate on a monthly basis. By supporting Zohra Foundation with your Zakat and Sadaqah, you will be saving the life of someone in need and fulfilling your Islamic duty to care for elders.
The immediate focus for Zohra Foundation is rebuilding homes and livelihoods so that the affected people in Pakistan can move forward and restore some normality to their lives.
Helping the people of Pakistan today
Zohra Foundation is a UK-registered charity that aims to improve the lives of millions of orphans, widows and the elderly throughout Pakistan and respond to emergencies in other parts of the world.
Through our Adopt a Grandparent scheme, Orphan Sponsorship scheme, medical camps, social support and food aid we focus on ensuring that the poor and vulnerable population get the vital services they need to survive.
In the last five years, we have built long-term partnerships with networks of paid specialists, volunteer doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. These relationships mean that we understand and meet the needs of the local population to deliver emergency relief across Pakistan.
By supporting Zohra Foundation with your Zakat and Sadaqah, you can restore hope to the orphans and elderly in Pakistan.
You will give the elderly the final days they deserve; one with respect and dignity and the orphans, a better start to life.
In this article, we hope to have informed you on the question ‘Is Pakistan running out of water?’, as well as offer insight into the obligations Zohra Foundation undertakes in regard to charitable causes.
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