Drought-Hit

The United Nations (UN) just released their Global Land Outlook report stating that Pakistan is part of the 23 countries of the world that are suffering from a severe and prolonged drought. This is not surprising considering the grievances about water shortages and scarcity voiced by each province, especially Sindh, which is on the verge of a state of emergency due to rapidly depleting water reserves. Keeping this reality in mind, the authorities must realise that we have surpassed the point at which conservation efforts alone would have sufficed. We need major changes in policy and we need them now.

Most developing countries, like Pakistan, are facing the brunt of rapid global development since they are the most susceptible to experience the effects of water scarcity. Countless are dying of dehydration in the country and those who manage to find a resource often contract deadly viruses like Cholera due to contamination. Clearly, our water management policies need serious reconsideration and rather immediately if we are to survive the next few years even.

Successive provincial governments in Sindh have been complaining about acute water shortage time and time again and now, this grievance has been proven true with the latest figures about national water resources. The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has instructed for an inquiry to be made for the shortfall of 13,000 cusecs at Taunsa and Gaddi. No matter what, attention must be paid to the needs of this province, along with all the others. Water shortages are hitting each region differently and some districts are in a direr condition than others.

Even though water conservation is imperative for long-term sustainability, this is not where the line should be drawn. There is much more that the government can do to manage water more effectively. Setting up strict limits for usage is a policy that works in Australia and can be implemented locally. Pakistan should also take advantage of its monsoon season by installing rainwater collection systems, like those fulfilling water needs in Mexico City and Yucatan. Irrigation plans should also be altered to use water more consciously. Drip irrigation, for instance, reduces water usage by 70 percent and can raise crop yields by 90 percent. Considering that agriculture is the biggest consumer of freshwater, and we are in an agricultural economy, such solutions could be potential lifesavers.

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