Water is vital for sustaining quality of life on earth and a significant commodity has a direct bearing on almost all sectors of economy. In Pakistan its significance is more than ordinary due to the agrarian nature of the economy as agricultural share in GDP is about 24%. The surface water assets of Pakistan primarily comprise of stream of the Indus River and its tributaries, as Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas collectively termed as “Indus water basin” which is Pakistan’s key source of fresh surface water and forms the mainstay of the Pakistan green economy and safeguard the environment. The average annual flow is 138 MAF of water every year. The Indus River alone provides 65% of the total river flows, while the share of Jhelum and Chenab is 17 and 19% respectively.
Pakistan, once a water-surplus country, is now a severe water scarcity country. Even the inadequate and irregular rainfall pattern probably due to climate change we are unable to meet the growing needs of water. It is important to note that International Monetary Fund (IMF), has already declared Pakistan as third most water-stressed country in the world which annual water availability is 1,017cm which is dangerously close to the scarcity threshold limit of 1,000m3. Even in 2009, Pakistan’s water availability was 1,500m3 approximately and last recorded per capita water availability in the country has gone down to 908m3 in 2017.
Per capita water availability is depend upon our available resources of country. Currently the flows of our major rivers is decreased about 29.72 percent less than the last year, which is an alarming sign for Pakistan. The reduce in inflow will pose several environmental, social and economic impacts, including sea water intrusion, coastal land degradation, ecological disturbance, mangroves vanishing, reduce in forest cover, reduction in livelihood opportunities and agricultural crops productivity are the few major concerns which direct indirect influence the quality of life.
Many peoples thoughts there is no any water scarcity in Pakistan as we have largest irrigational networks, huge rivers, natural lakes and three snowcapped mountain ranges including Himalayas, Hindukush, and korakaram, the Pakistan’s water source is infinite. But my question is if we have the largest water networks and resources so why the signs of water stress are everywhere in Pakistan, in the form of water scarcity, resource depletion, and contamination?
If your answer is yes then I think we don’t have sufficient water management and good practices in our country, and we have to devise proper legislation in order to prevent from consequences due to water availability, distribution and usages. Government of Pakistan should to fill the gaps of agricultural practices as maximum of water is used in agricultural activities, and consumer’s capacity building at grassroots level. There is really need to move forward with sustainable approaches and govt. should to invest in integrated water resource management, sustainable ground water management, rain harvesting, and canal water supply management improvements interventions.