Published Date: Oct 11, 2017
Nestlé Pakistan is the first company in Pakistan to have partnered with WWF-Pakistan to implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard to improve water efficiency. It recently unveiled its Water Plan in collaboration with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), WWF Pakistan, Department of Agriculture, Government of Punjab and Pakistan Agriculture Research Centre (PARC).
That’s just one example. We need more efforts from the academia, the government, and the industry giants working in Pakistan to put their heads together to work towards what is called water stewardship. Water stewardship in essences is about using water in a way that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible – something that is lacking in a country that has been declared water stressed.
According to ADB, Pakistan is one of the most water stressed countries. Back in 2016 only, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country may run dry by 2025 if the authorities did not take immediate action. And just recently, in PWC’s latest report, ‘Workforce of the future -The competing forces shaping 2030’, one of the four Worlds of Work in 2030 highlights a year-long drought in eastern Pakistan and northern India in 2021, causing the deaths of two million people with more than 30 million being displaced.
According to an IMF study on Annual Water Availability, per capita water availability in Pakistan has come down from 1.500 cubic metres in 2009 to 1,017 cubic metres in 2017. The situation seems grim according to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator, which measures per capita usage. The indicator classifies countries into three vulnerable categories: water stress (1,700m3or below), scarcity (1,000-1,700m3), and absolute scarcity (500-1,000m3), which shows that Pakistan might already have reached the scarcity level.
So what can be done? Pakistan’s water consumption is highest in the agriculture sector, and thus there is a need for proper policy making on that end. Irrigation inefficiently uses over 90 percent of the country’s water resources – out of 90 percent water consumption by the agriculture sector, 50 percent is wasted due to poor irrigation. The country has excessive cultivation of water intensive cash crops like sugarcane, rice and cotton. There needs to be a radical development of alternatives for water resource as well as innovative and efficient irrigation techniques to slowdown the water recession. Work on the Water Policy should be hurried. We need to make amends before the water stressed country turns into water starved country!