The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.
Water shortage is one of the greatest threats to the human beings on Earth. Within the next 25 years more water conflicts can emerge between the countries. This warning may be overstated but Pakistan’s water situation is deeply troubling. In Pakistan, 5000 cubic meters per annum had been decreased to 1,100 in 1951.
About 80% of the Punjab enjoys fresh ground water whereas in Sind it’s less than 30%. In NWFP, due to the greater amount of abstractions for wells done every year, it’s now reaching into saline layers and Baluchistan has almost all saline groundwater. Since 1974, (Tarbela Dam was built) every government has failed to build a new reservoir. According to World Bank report, Pakistan needs to build new reservoirs urgently, citing the dearth of water in the near future. If Pakistan builds new reservoirs, it’ll be good in terms of economy as it’ll take Pakistan’s GDP from 110 billion to 115 billion per dam built.
In Punjab, the agricultural part of Pakistan, water is a necessity or it’ll drown Pakistan’s economy due the inefficient irrigation. According to a report, Pakistan is one of those 17 countries, which can face water shortage problems in the near future, if new reservoirs aren’t build on immediate basis.
Water is being contaminated every day by mixing it with the unfiltered water and many other chemicals like arsenic, lead etc. due to the inefficient system of separate water streams for the industrial water waste and domestic water waste. Besides the water shortage, there are many other water-borne diseases affecting 230,000 children each year due the unavailability of clean and safe drinking water to the citizens, only in Pakistan. Most of our latrines are not sanitized or even worse and the human waste is not disposed in an adequate manner but it is being discharged into the environment. Only 50% of the waste water is collected and only a portion of it is disposed in a sanitary manner. The quality of living environment in Pakistan remains poor as only 62% urban areas have a supply of tap waters at homes compared to the 22% percent of the rural areas. Pipe water is contaminated anyways due to the leakage and other biological organisms that interact with the water. The government should launch nationwide clean drinking water programmes to provide clean and healthy drinking water to each and every citizen of the country.
In spite of everything, we see the water over-flowing the motor tanks on the roofs of the houses. We are whining over the water shortage and again, we aren’t using it efficiently.
There are a number of factors which need to be highlighted and addressed at national level in order to improve, protect and maintain the quality of freshwater resources of the country.
Water is also needed for electricity. We are currently facing 5-6 hours of urban load-shedding and 10-12 hours of rural load-shedding in the country. Pakistan’s demand for electricity is increasing by 7% annually. Pakistan is relying more on the thermal sources than hydro whereas if we look at the costs, it’s astounding. It costs one rupee to produce one unit of Hydro-power where as it costs 7 rupees to produce thermal-power. Thus, we need to increase our number of our reservoirs in order to produce enough electricity to light each house in Pakistan.
This year’s ‘World Water Day’ theme is Clean Water for a Healthy World. The goal is to raise awareness about the quality of water so that suitable steps are taken to avoid any consequences in the near future.
Be the change!