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December 20, 2017

Population growth rate threatens water security: Aziz


December 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: An estimated annual population growth rate of 2.4 percent is set to outstrip the supply of fresh water in Pakistan, already classified as a water scarce nation, if current levels of consumption continue, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

“The population projected on the basis of 2.4 percent (estimated in recent census) will further jeopardise water security unless we conserve available water by growing less water intensive crops, treating effluence before discharge, and giving up lifestyle and habits that waste water,” said Sartaj Aziz, deputy chairman planning commission. “In the 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018) the planning commission estimates for food security, health and education was based on forecast of 2 percent population growth rate and this new estimate was a cause for serious concern,” Aziz said at a conference organised by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR).

Per capita water availability in Pakistan has declined to 1,000 cubic meters per capita from 5,000 cubic meters at the time of its independence.

Aziz said the country needs large and small water storages to meet the future challenges of climate change.

“In years of floods the dams store surplus water and reduce the impact of floods whereas in years of droughts the stored water can mitigate the effects of low rainfall” he said at another conference on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Development and Businesses.

Aziz said unfortunately construction of water dams has become controversial subject in Pakistan. “But the challenge of climate change so serious that it should persuade the political leadership to achieve a consensus on water storages not only for sustainable development but for the very survival of the country,” he added.

Earlier he also stressed that Vision 2025 attached high importance to climate change and water security. “Pillar IV of the document, covering energy, water, and food security envisages access to an adequate supply of water for all and requires policies to correct the demand and supply imbalances with sharp focus on both sides of the equation,” Aziz said.

The planning commission official also expressed hope that recommendations emerging from the conference would be useful in formulating policies and proposals for water security in the 12th Five Year Plan.

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