MUHAMMAD ARIF WATTO
World Water Day 2014 aims to raise awareness of the
inter-linkages between water and energy to meet increasing
demands of a growing population across the globe.
Pakistan is the sixth
largest country with an estimated 180 million people, that
is expected to reach 237 million in 2025 at the current rate
of the population increase.
As the population grows,
demand for water for all aspects of life increases.
It is estimated that the
agriculture sector will be required to grow more than 4pc
annually while water supplies by approximately 10pc to meet
its food requirements.
Roughly, it is estimated that
water demand increases by approximately 1300 m3y-1per capita
for an extra individual.
The per capita water
availabilities in Pakistan have decreased by more than 400pc
The current per capita water
availability of nearly 1050m3 is expected to further
decrease by 30pc while water requirements for farm sector
would increase by 48pc in 2025.
Hence, water demand and
supply relationship is expected to be greatly influenced by
the population growth.
The shortage of water
resources to meet industrial and domestic demands of a
rapidly growing population is likely to impact irrigation
water supply and hence would affect the sustainability of
The Indus river basin is already regarded as one of the most
depleted ones in the world.
Recent climate change trends
and soaring population compounded with rising food demand
and improved living standards, would substantially increase
pressure on water resources in the near future.
Surface water supplies are
already in gradual decline. Amongst the major groundwater
using countries, Pakistan is ranked the third. Since 1960,
groundwater share in the total water supply has increased by
more than 50pc.
The spectacular increase in
the groundwater use over the last half-century has
manifested as a kind of ’silent revolution’ carried out by
millions of farmers in pursuit of reliable irrigation water
Although groundwater resources have played a key role in
agricultural production, unimpeded pumping of groundwater
aquifers, however, has led to the rapid depletion and many
negative environmental and economic externalities.
Recently, the world’s highest
groundwater depletion rates have been reported in the
North-East Pakistan and North-West India of the Indus Basin.
That is making relative
accessibility of groundwater resources economically unviable
and is a risk to the sustainability of agriculture.
Unchecked drilling of
groundwater aquifers is triggering the up-welling and inflow
of highly mineralised deep groundwater aquifers into
freshwater aquifers. Rapidly declining groundwater tables is
pushing farmers to re-install tubewells at greater depths.
Groundwater resource management is under-developed and faces
a common-set of policy and institutional challenges.
Despite having major share in
irrigation, there is no comprehensive information available
on groundwater resources either within hydrological,
ecological or socio-economic perspectives.
What ever institutions are
there to govern water resources at the federal, provincial,
and local levels have limited business with groundwater
Existing institutional inefficiencies are widening the gap
among stakeholders, who are failing to cooperate with each
other to overcome the weak policies and enforcement
mechanisms in the water sector.
Nonetheless, the most alarming factor is the government’s
general apathy towards reforming the ineffective
institutions, policies and practices.
Groundwater management is a complex phenomenon which
requires multidimensional actions, policies and management
Groundwater management should
be well-integrated with mainstream water management projects