Pakistan faces potentially massive, country-wide droughts by 2025, but government funds might not be available to cover the research needed to avoid the crisis, according to recent news reports.
The Nation reports that Pakistan had crossed the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005, according to The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources.
Pakistan’s water supply is nearing absolute scarcity due to its arid climate and lower than average amounts of rainfall combined with higher levels of heated solar radiation.
Pakistan uses less water than only three other countries in the world, according to The Express Tribune, which is a distinction made more important by the fact that they are largely dependent on a single water source—the Indus River basin.
Scientists claim climate change has gradually decreased rainfall in Pakistan, while other experts say the country’s population growth and increasing urbanization are the primary causes of increased water usage and therefore eventual water scarcity.
While recent reports and experts are drawing more attention to Pakistan’s water crisis due to newer findings, warnings of this crisis have been present for years.
More than a million people suffered from starvation in 2014 after a very dry winter in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, according to BBC News, with more than 100 children dying each month in the desert region of Thar.
The government was accused of not doing enough to prevent the starvation deaths. More recently, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority Shamsul Mulk said Pakistan policymakers don’t enforce any kind of water policies. He added, more specifically, that those in charge might as well be “absentee landlords” over water.
“Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share,” Mulk said in The Express News report.
Energy sector worker Irfan Choudhry told The Independent that the country lacks any proper water storage facilities.
“Pakistan hasn’t built new dams since the 1960s,” Choudhry said. “What we see is political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days, and it is worrisome.”
Some politicians claim “massive corruption” in the water sector as water’s scarcity transforms it into a profitable resource, according to The Independent.
Climate Change Minister Senator Mushahidullah Khan recently told The Express Tribune that increasing desertification has resulted in the loss of much of Pakistan’s fertile land, further contributing to the water crisis. Mushahidullah also suggested some plans for restoration of this fertile land, including rainwater harvesting and more effective monitoring systems.