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July 3, 2013

Pakistan close to being ‘water scarce’ country, says Asian Bank

July 3, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is on the verge of being classified as a “water scarce” country, the Asian Development Bank has warned in a report.
Pakistan, which has failed to construct any major water reservoir for the last over 40 years besides facing Indian aggression on the water front, is said to have the storage capacity of only 30-day supply as against the recommended 1,000 days for countries with similar climate.
This situation, official sources said, is also very threatening for the agriculture output, which is the backbone of the country’s economy, and requires immediate attention of the government to address the issue of water management and building of additional reservoirs.
Th water and power ministry sources said that over the dismal situation of water in Pakistan, the Asian Development Outlook 2013 report said, “Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, not far from being classified as ‘water scarce,’ with less than 1,000 cubic meters per person per year.”
It added, “Water demand exceeds supply, which has caused maximum withdrawal from reservoirs. At present, Pakistan’s storage capacity is limited to a 30-day supply, well below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with a similar climate. Climate change is affecting snowmelt and reducing flows into the Indus River, the main supply source.”
The ADB recommended, “Increases in storage capacity to manage periods of low snowmelt and low rainfall are required, as well as the rehabilitation of the distribution system to reduce losses.” While the policy makers in Pakistan have turned blind eye to this serious challenge the ADB warned that without proper water management the agriculture sector of the country would also suffer badly. It said, “Achieving the major challenge of boosting agricultural productivity and strengthening food security requires improving the management, storage, and pricing of water for irrigation.”
In case of improved

water management and storage capacity, the ADB said, “Anecdotal evidence suggests that agricultural productivity could be doubled with appropriate reform.”
The report added, “Improved water management is critical to deliver sufficient water to the 80% of farmland in the country that is irrigated”.
Only recently minister for planning and development Ahsan Iqbal was quoted to have said that there is no water scarcity in the country. He admitted that water resources are not managed properly to overcome water related issues. The minister said that Pakistan is going to face critical water management crisis. He said when Pakistan was created the per capita water availability in the country was 5000 cubic meters while in near future it would be as low as 800 cubic meters per capita.
Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan will have to enhance water storage capacity to meet water related issues.

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