Published Date: Apr 6, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The water scarcity in Pakistan is solvable; however, institutions as well as water managers lack vision and understanding of the workable solutions.
The water issues in Pakistan context could not be seen in isolation but would have to deal while keeping in view their economic, political and cultural aspects in the consideration.
Dr Daanish Mustafa, reader in politics and environment at King’s College London, expressed these views while delivering a lecture ‘Hydro-hazardscapes of Climate Change in Pakistan’ held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday.
Earlier, Imran Khalid of SDPI opened up the discussion and said that water and climate change were some of the urgent issues that demand a through debate and right actions at every level.
Dr Mustafa said that commuting climate change and its impacts in future terms was not a right strategy and instead, immediate issues of the people should be addressed, including the contemporary problems people in Pakistan were facing, including the water scarcity issue.
He said that in present context, groundwater in the lower reaches of the Indus Basin was salty and hence, unusable for most of the purposes whereas water table was rising in some areas to such an extent that plants can no longer grow in the soil. He said the basin could be actually divided into two zones where there is no water scarcity in the freshwater zone. But the people in the saline groundwater zone were facing urgent problem.
He added that the small farmers were bearing most of the brunt of water scarcity. Most of these farmers, he said, have to buy their inputs on credit, and as a result of poor harvests, were often unable to repay their debts. This phenomenon was contributing to an urbanisation rate that is higher than anywhere else in South Asia.
He said the debate on water issues in Pakistan has become a source of mistrust between the people from different provinces and keeping in view their extreme positions, it was really hard to coverage their opinions while finding the contemporary water problems.
While the real water and security challenges were substantial, the cultural and social capital realized through water must not be underestimated, he concluded.