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Newspost

April 21, 2017

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Water scarcity

Water scarcity

The imminent threat of water scarcity is a subject that is hardly talked about in Pakistani politics, and yet it institutes one of the biggest challenges to our existence. With a projected population of 263 million in the year 2050, the country needs to put solemn thought into how it will provide adequate water for agriculture, industry, and human consumption in the face of rapidly fading reserves. The introduction of better technologies to small farmers, increasing the use of input such as fertilisers, hybrid seeds, and modern farming equipment could be a potential solution. A ‘crop-per-drop’ structure is specifically useful in the country, where most of the land is dry and must be irrigated. Drastic fall in availability of water is taking a toll on masses, industry and agriculture but policymakers seem unresponsive. One figure states that around 40-55 million Pakistanis do not have regular access to drinking water and around 630 Pakistani children die each day because of waterborne diseases.

There is a need to change our attitude towards preservation. For most of the country’s history, the response to water shortages has always been to build dams, readdress rivers, and moisten the soil. While this may have worked in the past, this engineering-based tactic largely overlooks the reality that the country is sitting on dwindling reserves. The slant for the coming century must focus on maintenance. Instead of thinking about how and where to build new dams, we need to think about how we can diminish waste in the prevailing system. Instead of figuring out ways to extract more water from the ground, the country should be figuring out how to salvage its water and make the most of each drop. In a country that has the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world, the main hindrance is not that the system is not large enough, but that it has not been rationalised for productivity.

Arsalan Ali

Islamabad

 

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