Water scarcity in Pakistan

Residents in North Karachi are faced with an acute water shortage because of which residents are required to purchase water through tankers. The tankers are costly and do not fulfil the water requirements of the residents.

One of the reasons for poor water supply is broken supply lines, which have reduced the flow of water to different parts of the city. The long transmission routes also cause disruptions in the supply as there are leakages and thefts, which account for a loss of almost 30% of the city’s water supply. The situation is further exacerbated by the poor performance of outdated and inefficient pumping stations. The water board should address this by refurbishing the pumping stations and installing new supply lines to ensure a smooth supply of water.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn the authorities that the South Asian country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025.

“No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts,’ will be immune to this [scarcity],” said Neil Buhne, UN humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan.

Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region by the year 2040.

It is not the first time that development and research organizations have alerted Pakistani authorities about an impending crisis, which some analysts say poses a bigger threat to the country than terrorism.

In 2016, PCRWR reported that Pakistan touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005. If this situation persists, Pakistan is likely to face an acute water shortage or a drought-like situation in the near future, according to PCRWR, which is affiliated with the South Asian country’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

In the past, there was a crackdown on illegal hydrants to ensure an uninterrupted water supply. However, little has changed since. Some residents suspect that the water shortage is artificially created by tanker services for financial gains. If this is the case, then the relevant authorities should crack down on tanker mafias to make sure that water is easily available and accessible. Those involved in such malpractices must receive strict punishments and their services should be suspended. Despite several complaints against the inadequate water supply, the authorities have done little to address the concerns of the people. I want to urge all the relevant bodies to pay attention to this issue and resolve the water crisis at their earliest.

Nisar Ahmed


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