Pakistan’s Two Water Extremes

By: Rana Ali

Rains are considered no less than blessings in times of need but it becomes anathemas when it falls down torrentially and the inability of concerning authorities in the management of that water properly allows it to devastate hundreds of lives.

In Pakistan, the two months season of moonsoon rains is comprehended as anathemas because it leaves nothing except devastation for hundreds of poor people of Pakistan. The flood havoc has been a continuous phenomenon, especially after the heavy flood of 2010 that directly affected 20 million people and claimed two thousand deaths in Pakistan. Nationwide moonsoon spell of rains has been resulting as disastrous for already poverty-stricken classes of Pakistan every year.

Similar to previous years, this year too-2022- moonsoon rains have left numerous unerasable dark blots in the lives of many Pakistanis who have lost their loved ones during these flood havocs. Till now, over six hundred individuals and hundreds of animals have succumbed to unhindered and directionless water. The losses of houses of poor people are also deplorable, over 50 villages have been submerged in water thoroughly. Moreover, This flash flood has crushed thousands of acres of lands having ‘Kharif’ crops. 

It is observed that Pakistan is facing two water extremes. The first extreme is when Pakistan becomes a water-stressed country and remains so for 9 months and the second extreme is when Pakistan faces flash floods and water overflows during moonsoon rains which lasted for two to three months. As it is known that extremism in any form leads to disastrous results and it can be seen in the case of Pakistan.

we see how both water extremes prove disastrous for Pakistan. The first extreme is when Pakistan stays a water-stressed country for 9 months. According to a report “Water crisis in Pakistan” published by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics(PIDE), Pakistan ranks 14 out of 17 “extremely high water risk” countries in the world. More than 80 percent of the country’s population faces “severe water scarcity”.  Moreover, Pakistan is an agricultural country that generates 23% of countries total GDP and employs 50 percent country’s labor force directly or indirectly. But, in recent years, the agricultural sector is facing a downfall in terms of crop production due to water shortage. Data from the past some seasons reveals that Pakistan is not enough yielding that can feed the exponentially increasing population of Pakistan. In the Last wheat season in Pakistan, the total production of wheat is 26.38 million metric tons while the national demand is 30.79 million metric tons. The gap between total locally produced wheat and the national requirement of wheat has to mitigate by importing extra wheat which ultimately will affect the already crippling economy of Pakistan and the crippling economy squeezing the poor masses. Besides, Pakistan is facing about $ 29 billion in economic losses every year on account of the unutilized flow of the river waters into the sea due to limited water storage capacity. It seems first water extreme is charging Pakistan a heavy amount in terms of economic losses and the poor economy directly impacts the lower and middle class of Pakistan which constitutes above 80 percent of the total population of Pakistan.

The second water extreme is when Pakistan faces flash floods and water overflows. This three-month-long moonsoon rain spell makes higher water extreme in Pakistan where one can see directionless water everywhere in Pakistan. This directionless and unhindered water costs Pakistan a heavy penalty. It causes huge losses to human life, damage to property and infrastructure, and destroys crops and livestock on a massive scale. Seems, that the second water extreme also impacts the economy of Pakistan badly.

One thing, that is required to remember and common in both water extremes; Pakistan is toiling in between both, and the poor people of Pakistan are suffering. 

The question arises over here how Pakistan can maintain a balance between both mentioned water extremes and protect Pakistan. First, Pakistan needs to increase its water storage capacity as it has a water storage capacity of 30 days which is unsatisfactory while India has a capacity of 170 days. Second, For increasing water storage, the administration of Pakistan must build new dams as much as possible at rocketing speed and renovate the existed dams.

Third, Political administration should think about the national cause instead of their personal cause and should formulate long-term strategies instead of short-term vote-driven strategies. 

In a nutshell, Pakistan can be saved from being a water-stressed country as well as from flash floods- undoubtedly in both cases, Pakistan faces huge losses- if our policymakers and politicians make long-term strategies, build new dams, and work for the national cause in a true sense of spirit.