Water Scarcity

PAKISTAN could be water scarce by 2025. In recent days, this prediction has generated headlines and galvanised social media users across the country. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this estimate. The UN, Pakistan’s Met department and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources have all delivered it in recent years.

The fact that the projection didn’t attract much attention previously is unsurprising. For years, Pakistan’s water researchers have shouted from the rooftops about water insecurity. And most people couldn’t be bothered to look up to see what the shouting was about. But today, perhaps because of the debate on the Kishanganga dispute, Pakistan’s water woes are getting attention. That’s a good thing, given the seriousness of the situation. Pakistan won’t become water scarce in 2025 because, for all intents and purposes, it’s already water scarce.

Per capita availability hovers around 1,000 cubic metres, the scarcity threshold. In some areas, the Indus has been reduced to a puddle, bringing misery to farmers and an agricultural sector that dominates the economy. Drought conditions are endemic in Balochistan. According to officials in Karachi, residents receive fewer than 500 million gallons of water per day, well below 50 per cent of daily needs.

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