The major threat that Pakistan faces today is not Islamist terrorism but water scarcity. While the former makes headlines all over the world, the latter is an issue that is hardly discussed in the national and international media or by policy makers. Last year, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country may run dry by 2025 if the authorities didn’t take immediate action.
It said the majority-Muslim country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005. If this situation persists, Pakistan is likely to face an acute water shortage or a drought-like situation in the near future, predicted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), which is affiliated with the Pakistan Ministry of Science and Technology
1,000 CUBIC METERS
Greater scarcity resulting from higher demand
Diminishing capacity of reservoirs
Excessive (nearly 60pc) conveyance losses
Excessive groundwater use.
Productive (more crop per drop)
Allocative efficiency (more value per drop)
Conservation and metering
The State of Economy: Agriculture and Water, Shahid Javed, Burki Institute of Public Policy
Solutions From Around the World:
- Fog Catchers: Vast mesh nets are used to capture moisture from fog, which drips into collection trays after condensation. The largest of these projects is on the slopes of Mount Boutmezguida, a microclimate in Morocco where 6,300 litres of water can be harvested per day. The water is clean, free and instant. First developed in South America, fog catching systems also exist in Chile, Ghana, Eritrea, South Africa and California.
PurifAid is a social enterprise geared towards installing efficient, durable water decontamination systems in Bangladesh. Groundwater in Bangladesh was found to be laden with high levels of arsenic, putting millions of people at risk of death due to arsenic poisoning.. PurifAid attempted to solve this problem by adapting DRENCH (Direct Remediation and Elimination of Chemical Harm) technology in rural Bangladesh. DRENCH is a new generation of filtration unit that runs on an organic by-product of the beverage industry – in this instance, rice husks. When rice husks are used for two cycles of filtration, it can remove 95% of arsenic, along with manganese and iron, from drinking water. The DRENCH unit successfully filtered out the arsenic contamination and proved that the technology filter could effectively be retrofitted directly onto the tube wells.
- Controlled drainage helps in saving freshwater by providing part of the consumptive use through capillary rise from shallow water tables. The objective of controlled drainage is to reduce subsurface drainage intensity during specific period of time by temporarily raising the level of the drain outlet. Capillary rise from the raised water table contributes in moisture supply to the root zone. Experimental works in Egypt showed that up to 40% of the total water requirement could be saved through controlled drainage.
– Could these five innovations help solve the global water crisis?, Rosie Spinks, The Guardian, 13 Feb 2017– PurifAid: Ending the Arsenic Water Crisis in Bangladesh, Grand Challenges Canada
– Innovative Technologies for Water Saving in Irrigated Agriculture, Suresh Kulkarni, International Journal of Water Resources and Arid Environments 1(3): 226-231, 2011