The entire world including Pakistan is in a water crisis; one that is growing rapidly with the passage of time. Acute water crisis would lead to increase in political instability as well as population displacements, paving way for civil wars.
According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn that the country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. Experts opine that booming population and urbanization are some of the key reasons behind the catastrophe. The issue has also been worsened by climate change, poor water management and lack of political will to deal with the crisis.
Rising temperatures can be regarded as the most significant reason of water scarcity in Pakistan. At least least 1,200 deaths were attributed to tremendously hot weather in 2015 alone. “Heat waves and droughts in Pakistan are a result of climate change,” enunciated Mian Ahmed Naeem Salik, an ecological professional and Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, while giving interview to Deutsche Welle (DW).
Moreover, with the intrusion of sea-water, Karachi’s groundwater got salinized. Being, the biggest metropolis of Pakistan, its huge population is completely dependent on surface water, while Lahore, the second biggest city, mainly uses groundwater. Lahore’s population is served with 1.29 MAF (million acre feet) of groundwater, extracted through tube wells, hand pumps and motor pumps. As per the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), since it is easy to connect a tube well of any volume or depth and extract any amount of water, so there are over a million tube wells in Punjab now, as compared to 0.3 million in the early 1990s.
However, there is something that could be learnt from Israel’s water policy, which has been successful in eradicating drought in the country, situated in the arid Middle East. Israel, since its independence was suffering from water crisis. Yet today, it has been successful in its water independence policy, and, as of now, Israel now produces 20% more water than its consumption requirements. This exceeds the demand of more than eight million residents, leaving enough water to distribute to its neighbors and a wealth of knowledge to export across the world.
The country recycles more than 80 percent of its waste-water for irrigation, which is the highest percentage in the world. Desalination, though long known as a costly process, is now less expensive, cleaner, and more energy proficient. It may offer one solution to Israel’s, and the entire world’s emerging water crisis.
Apart from desalination, Israel has a legislation that every drop of water, whether in the lakes, falling from the sky or underground, solely belongs to the state. The most important development to secure a water supply is installation of dual flush toilet, an expensive but saving significant amount of water going down the drain. Israeli startups are playing great role with their innovative techniques such as drip irrigation.
In a crux, Israel water revolution or water independence policy has been successful in eradicating water crisis in the whole country. Pakistan, being the sixth most populous nation, and the third largest country facing water crisis, can learn from these innovative approaches. Only dams and barrages cannot help prevent water crisis. The government needs to invest in startups coming up with good solution to water crisis. The government of Pakistan need to come up with a proper legislation, so that the future of upcoming generation does not run dry.
The author Shayan Tariq is an International Relations graduate from Bahria University, Islamabad.
This article first appeared in Matrix Mag and is being reproduced under a special arrangement. Click here to go to the original.