In the recent roundtable organised by the Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) and Hanns Seidel Foundation, the topic of discussion was Pakistan’s poor water management and storage policies. Out of the total water that Pakistan receives, we save only 40 percent. Pakistan loses the rest of its water since we do not have a proper storage mechanism. Likewise, the fact that we are storing way below the international practices shows that we do not understand the value of water.

Pakistan is among those 36 countries that are the most water-stressed. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) ask the officials to take immediate steps lest the country run out of the water by 2025. We are left with five years. We need to act without further delay to avert the looming water crisis.

Poor water management, weak water infrastructure, inability to complete storage projects along with climatic changes are the main hurdles to secure and store water to satisfy our needs, especially our agricultural requirements, while the natural process is not in anyone’s control. However, constructing water reservoirs and devising a better water management plan is certainly in the state’s power.

Another problem is public behaviour. We use water neither effectively nor efficiently while performing daily chores. The general public wastes a lot of water unnecessarily. People’s knowledge about the conservation of water is little to zero. The government must start charging for water consumption so that people use water economically.

As a water-scarce country, we need to be doing better. And in this regard, the country that we must learn from is Singapore. The government in Singapore has put “Four National Taps” in place, which is a holistic approach to water resources management from drainage to drinking water. The project not only conserves rainwater; it makes sure that water sustainability is maintained no matter what.