Water for all

World Water Day, which is observed on March 22, passed without much fanfare in Pakistan. Ironically, Pakistan is among the most water-stressed countries in the world and already faces a serious crisis in this regard. Rapid urbanisation, population growth, industrialisation and climate change have driven up the demand for water. The gap between demand and supply is ever-expanding and millions of people are facing a serious shortage of water. This has affected the livelihood of a large number of people; negatively impacted the environment; and increased the number of local-level conflicts.

Pakistan has already been included among the water-stressed countries of the world and will soon encounter a significant amount of water scarcity due to population growth. If a country’s water availability falls below 1,000 cubic metres, then it will be rated as a water-scarce country. Until 2010, Pakistan’s water availability was around 1,223 cubic metres. The development of water resources and the use of technology, high-yielding crop varieties and fertilisers have increased agricultural productivity for a short period of time. However, crop yields are now declining as water productivity has diminished. The water productivity for cereal crops in Pakistan is almost one-third of what it is in India and one-sixth of what it is in China.

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