islamabad - The ruling party parliamentarian Muhammad Moeen Wattoo yesterday said that the country is highly vulnerable to flood risk, which is causing large-scale damages to socio-economic sectors, particularly agriculture.

Talking to the media persons, he said that with the effective management of river basins, including the Indus and restoration of wetlands in the country, the flood risk could be mitigated. Such measures could also increase underground water resources, which are fast depleting, he said.

He mentioned that the incumbent government is aware of the climate change-induced flood risk in the country and is taking all-out practical measures to mitigate its impacts on the lives of people, their livelihoods, public infrastructure, particularly agriculture.

Talking about his recent visit to the Yangtze River basin in China, Wattoo said the main objective of the visit was to see how the Chinese manage flood plains and wisely use floods for economic and environmental benefits.

It was surely amazing the way China has managed to mitigate the flood risk in the Yangtze River basin spread over catchment area of 1.8 million square kilometres. This offers great viable lesson for Pakistan to make the flood-prone Indus River basin the flood-proof river basin in the light of the Chinese experience, he elaborated on his visit.

“We also learnt during our Chinese visit that effective river basin management and restoration of wetlands can help significantly to mitigate flood risk being faced by Pakistan,” Wattoo emphasised.

He said, “I would convey our observations to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and present top key political leadership about positive impacts of sustainable flood management in the Yangtze river basin. With a total length of more than 6,300 kilometres and a total descent of more than 5,400 meters, the Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world and lone longest in China, has sustained human civilisation for millennia, with over one third of China’s population living in its watershed.

Secretary Climate Change Ministry Syed Abu Ahmad Akif said that Pakistan has been declared water-stressed country with storage capacity of only 30 days. On the other hand “carryover capacity” in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt, he said.

Syed Abu Akif told media that what is more alarming is that the storage capacity is decreasing day by day due to sediment build-up in the existing reservoirs, rivers and other water bodies.

The climate change secretary highlighted, “The country desperately needs more reservoirs to increase its water storage capacity, and called for conservation awareness campaigns, the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties and more economical irrigation.