FEATURE: Pakistan’s Dwindling Water Resources
With Climate Change a reality, Pakistan’s future water needs are coming under greater scrutiny. A burgeoning population and rapid urbanisation are changing are presenting new challenges to policy makers. Saad Sultan of LEAD Pakistan explores how Pakistan will cope with the changed realities.
Climate Change is increasing uncertainty in virtually all sectors of economy and society. This uncertainty leads to increased risk and impinges upon governments to redefine the national security paradigm and apparatus. In the 21st century, the security of a country may be linked more with internal water, food and energy production and storage capacities than its ability to protect the geographical boundaries from a foreign military aggression. The cognizance of the fact is increasing, in part because of the efforts of LEAD Pakistan, Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) that have been working to promote and mainstream climate compatible development (CCD) in Pakistan for the last few years. Climate compatible development is the strategic and integrated approach beyond the traditional adaptation and mitigation options to push forward a low carbon, high impact and inclusive economic and social development in countries like Pakistan that are highly vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change.
The working group on water during a policy dialogue held in Islamabad on March 30, 2015 organized by LEAD Pakistan, CDKN and MoCC concluded that “conservation and storage of water- surface, ground, and rain should be the top development priority for Pakistan”. The working group explored the possibilities for climate compatible development in Pakistan by connecting the dots among water, food and energy security of the country because the central theme of the dialogue was “Understanding Water, Food and Energy Nexus for Climate Compatible Policy, Planning and Practice”.
“Greater development of mini, medium and large scale storage capacity needs to be developed wherever it is feasible”, urged the chair of the working group meeting, Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah, Ex-Managing Director, WAPDA and Senior Advisor-Water Programme, LEAD Pakistan. “The recommendations of the group will guide the government to take measures for increasing the resilience of the economy by identifying areas of intervention in conjunction and engagement with policy makers and other stakeholders”, he added.
Mr. Ahmad Junaid from Sindh Engineering Department deplored the absence of political will on water issues and urged to delink water policies from politics. Mr. Sarfaraz Ahmad Minhas, a senior environmentalist was concerned the way the surface water and rivers, especially in Rawalpindi and Islamabad region, is being polluted. The uncontrolled extraction of water in the capital city is destroying the aquifer and may generate Baluchistan-like drought situation if the steps are not taken immediately.
The working group was unanimous in suggesting that ‘water should be central to our CCD drive just as China and many other countries are doing. We need to keep an eye on the emergent science of climate change and water for water conservation and storage through conventional and unconventional measures including the construction of dams and rainwater management”. The group further suggested that adequate investment need to be channelized for water savings and storage measures. The sectoral investments can be calculated through cost-benefit analysis. There is a need of establishment of water regulatory body to monitor the availability of water as well as to determine its need and allocation for each sector. This will also be helpful in checking water pollution and gathering of data especially the process information need to be gathered for informed decision making.