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Water and Population:

Water may be the resource that defines the limits of sustainable development. It has no
substitute, and the balance between humanity's demands and the quantity available is
already precarious.
Only about 2.5 per cent of all water on the planet is fresh water—essential for most
human purposes—and only about 0.5 per cent is accessible groundwater or surface water.
Rainfall quantities vary greatly around the world. Portions of Northern Africa and
Western Asia receive very small amounts of rain.
Income is related to the availability of water between and within nations. The more
developed regions have on average substantially higher rainfall than those less and least
developed. Additionally, richer countries can better afford the investments needed to
develop reservoirs, dams and other technologies to capture fresh water run-off and
available groundwater.

The World population is the total number of humans on Earth at a given time. In the year
1950 the world population was approximately 2.52 billion. In February 2008, the world's
population is believed to have reached over 6.70 billion In line with population
projections, this figure continues to grow at rates that were unprecedented before the 20th
century, although the rate of increase has almost halved since its peak, which was reached
in 1963, of 2.2 percent per year. The world's population, on its current growth trajectory,
is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2050.

Global population has tripled over the past 70 years and water use has grown six-fold as
the result of industrial development and increased use of irrigation. More recently, per
capita use of water has leveled off, so total water consumption is growing at about the
same pace as population. Satisfying the water needs of 77 million additional people each
year has been estimated as requiring an amount roughly equal to the flow of the Rhine.
But the amount of available fresh water has not changed.

Worldwide, 54 per cent of the annual available fresh water is being used. If consumption
per person remains steady, by 2025 we could be using 70 per cent of the total because of
population growth alone. If per capita consumption everywhere reached the level of more
developed countries we could be using 90 per cent of the available water by 2025.
Such extrapolations assume no change in the efficiency of water use. It has been
estimated, however, that relatively low-cost technologies could double agricultural
productivity per unit of available water. In the past 50 years, industrialized countries have
significantly increased efficiencies in industrial and agricultural water use. Many of the
same technologies—for example, drip irrigation instead of flood irrigation—are
increasingly available in developing countries, but cost and cultural issues (like
educational outreach to facilitate behaviour change) must be addressed.
PAKISTAN is already in a state of water crisis— particularly in southern Punjab, Sindh
and its capital Karachi. It is high time that the people are made fully aware of the grave
implications of the water disaster, likely to occur in a decade or two.

Such a disaster would threaten not only the environmental existence of the country but
the very security of lives of those who live in these areas. The crying need of the hour is
to galvanize people on the issue.

These conclusions are based on the findings of a long- term research programme to
improve the empirical basis of water availability in 118 countries of the world, by the
International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The first abstract was published in

The forecast then made, proved to be correct and these days scarcity of water is almost a
national crisis. At present the worst sufferers are southern Punjab, Sindh and its capital
Karachi. The NWFP will also face serious water problem, in case, India succeeds in
building a dam on Kabul River upstream. There has been almost 50 per cent reduction in
agricultural production in Sindh. Its water bodies are drying up.

Sea intrusion is accelerating; the sea has intruded almost 40 kilometer in Badin district.
The mangroves in the whole Indus delta are fast vanishing. The water supply problem in
Karachi is so acute that many areas go dry even for a week and after great hue and cry,
the people get water in trickles. For Karachites, water has become a rare and expensive
commodity. For instance a middle class family with a households of five persons spends
every month Rs. 3,000 to 4000 on tankers, in addition Rs9000 are paid to the Water
Board per annum.

The IWMI researchers concluded in 1998 that Pakistan was a water scarce country in the
same category as Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East and North African countries and that the
scarcity of water would accentuate in the near future. They had defined ‘water scarcity’
either in term of the existing and potential supply of water or in terms of the present and
future demands or needs of water or both. In pioneering studies on water scarcity, the
IWMI researchers took a supply side approach by ranking countries according to per-
capita amount of annual water resources (AWR).

The study took into account the present and future demands or need for water by
simulating the demand for water in relation to the supply of water over the period 1990 to
2025. In the water balance analysis for Pakistan the estimates of water supply and
demand were made. Pakistan’s population, even conservatively estimated is expected to
be around 280 million in 2025 the AWR, remaining constant, water availability on a per
capita basis will be substantially reduced. The estimates were adjusted to take explicit
account of return flow and water recycling whose importance is often neglected in studies
of water scarcity.

The study warned that the water scarcity would be a major constrain on food production,
human health and environmental quality many of the countries in this category, including
Pakistan, will have to divert water from irrigation to supply their domestic and industrial
needs and will need to import more food. However the study concluded that around 50
per cent of the increase in demand for water by the year 2025 can be met by increasing
the effectiveness of irrigation. While some of the remaining water development needs can
be met by small dams and conjunctive use of aquifers. In some cases medium and large
dams may also be needed. The productivity of irrigation water can be increased in four
ways: (i) increasing the productivity per unit of transpiration; (ii) reducing flows of
usable water to sinks and converting this into productive use; (iii) controlling salinity and
pollution and (iv) reallocating water from lower valued to higher valued crop.

In his whirlwind tour of the country and particularly in Sindh in connection with
referendum, President Musharraf has, time and again, touched upon the issue of water
crisis. In his Sukkur speech he emphasized that he would not allow Sindh to become
barren and waste land. The process of desertification in Sindh would be prevented. It is in
this context, an action plan is suggested on a national basis as well s for Sindh and
Karachi for implementation as soon as possible.

The Pakistani government is currently combating numerous political, economic, and

social problems—conflicts with India over Kashmir, refugees from Afghanistan, high
population growth, and severe poverty problems. While not necessarily front-page news,
water scarcity is growing in Pakistan. Though heavily dependent on one river system, the
Indus River, Pakistan has not always suffered from water scarcity. During the country’s
infancy, water availability was quite high at 5,600 cubic meters per person. This
abundance of five decades ago plummeted to just 1,000 cubic meters water availability
per person today. The water crisis in Pakistan is of particular concern, according to Naser
Faruqi, because water plays an integral role in the country’s economy—ninety percent of
the agricultural output, representing one-quarter of the GDP, is reliant upon irrigation
water while almost half of Pakistan’s energy is hydroelectric. Additionally, Pakistan’s
water crisis has several serious health, social, and political implications.

Health implications: The serious water shortages in Pakistan have had a great impact on
the health of the general population. Today 12 percent of Pakistanis have no access to
improved water sources while 39 percent are without sanitation facilities. Dr. Faruqi
noted that these shortcomings force people to consume polluted drinking water, which
will increase the incidence of waterborne diseases. More pressing, perhaps, is the lack of
water for irrigation purposes. Grain production is expected to fall short 11 million tons by
2010 and nearly 16 million tons by 2020. If the economy continues to falter, importing
food to make up for agricultural shortfalls will not be an option—famine-like conditions
may very well become a harsh reality.
Social implications: As the water supply in the Indus River continues to dwindle,
seawater has begun to make its way into the delta, spoiling irrigated land and aquifers.
Such water degradation and shortages decimate farms and spur mass migrations to major
Pakistani cities. Most problematic, according to Dr. Faruqi, has been the pressure such
population movement places upon urban infrastructure. Similar to the situation in China,
such migrants in the cities are often subject to discrimination and economic hardships.

Political Implications: Eco-refugees, those citizens who have fled drought or infertile
farmland for major urban areas, potentially contribute to an already unstable political
situation in Pakistan. Massive population movements are, Dr. Faruqi noted, almost
inherently unstable. In the case of Pakistan, however, the fight over ever decreasing water
resources may prove even more threatening. During a severe drought in 2001, for
example, rioters protesting drinking water shortages smashed windows and overturned
cars in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. In light of growing discontent over government
cooperation with the United States in the “war against terror,” not to mention the
questionable means employed by Perez Musharraff in his effort to secure another
presidential term, conflict caused by the water crisis is a destabilizing force that the
present regime cannot afford.

As evidence of the government’s awareness of the far-reaching implications of the water

crisis, Dr. Faruqi cited some examples of Pakistani government initiatives:

• Two of the fourteen core areas of activities within the broad National
Conservation Strategy (established in 1992) focus on water: irrigation efficiency and
watershed protection;
• In 2001, the Pakistan Environmental Protection Council approved a National
Environmental Action Plan that included a major focus on clean water;
• Provincial Irrigation and Drainage Authorities were formed in Punjab, Sindh, and
Balochistan to improve irrigation management; and,
• The national-level Water and Power Development Authority has focused on
building new canals and dams, extending irrigation networks, and reclaiming land
damaged by water logging or salinity.

Though this growing government attention on the water crisis is commendable, Naser
Faruqi is disappointed by the “gap between rhetoric and reality.” The government
continues to ignore the great depth of the problem, and therefore the initiatives put into
action are shortsighted and often misguided. Most disturbing to Dr. Faruqi is the
reluctance to employ true water conservation measures to reduce overall demand and
change water consumption patterns. Instead the government simply “is just dreaming of
more water to tap.” Integral for alleviating the water crisis in Pakistan is the need for
education of the populous and involvement of the key stakeholders within the
government, landlord, and religious communities who oppose water conservation. In
short, Pakistan will need to undergo a broad paradigm shift to move onto a sustainable
water use path.

Drought situation in Pakistan:

Pakistan is facing acute drought conditions in certain areas of Sindh and most of
Balochistan. Apart from loss of precious human lives, this has resulted in considerable
loss to livestock and natural resources, squeezing livelihood opportunities and resources
for sustenance. It is the need of the hour to help the affected population and vulnerable
communities through both long and short-term rehabilitation plans.

Data Module:

Water & Population:

Average Water
Availability World Population in
Years in Cubic Meter Billions
1950 16000 2.50
1995 7000 5.75
2025 5000 8.00
2050 4000 9.50

Sufficiency, Stress & Scarcity:

Years Sufficiency in % Stress in % Scarcity in %

1950 97 3.00 0.00
1995 92 5.00 3.00
2025 64 26.00 10.00
2050 58 24.00 18.00

Relative Sufficiency = more than 1700 m3 per capita

Freshwater Stress = 1000-1700 m3 per capita
Freshwater Scarcity = less than 1000 m3 per capita

The above data clearly explains that by 2050, per capita availability of fresh water will be
drastically reduced by four folds from the availability in 1950. As the per capita
availability is inversely proportional to the world’s total population.

Per Capita Availability of Fresh Water = Total Water Available

World’s total Population

Further; in the second table it is clearly observed that the sufficiency percentage is
inversely proportional to Stress % and Scarcity %. First of all the stress level increases
and affect the sufficiency level and then this stress increases up to the extent that some of
it percentage converts itself into the scarcity. As per the given table it is clearly
anticipated that in comparison to the 1950 the sufficiency level will drop by 33% where
as the scarcity will increase from zero to 18%. Stress level of 24% in 2050 indicates the
considerably increased consumption of contaminated and substandard water that will
surely trigger water borne diseases and will cause fatalities.

Answers to the Questions asked:

7. Country’s climate is of mixed type. At some places it is dry and at some cities it is
aired and rainy. Lack of dams and water reservoirs and poor management of funds
to invest in these causes mainly affect the water availability.
8. High Growth rate compared to other countries. Since the availability of fresh
water is not growing as the population so the growth in population is adversely
affecting the water availability in Pakistan.
9. Main concerns are:
10. Increase in the productivity of irrigation water.
11. Increasing the productivity per unit of transpiration;
12. Reducing flows of usable water to sinks and converting this into
productive use
13. Controlling salinity and pollution and
14. Reallocating water from lower valued to higher valued crop.
15. strengthening and revitalizing of Mangla and Tarbela watershed
management projects.
16. Priority public sector investments in restoring / upgrading productivity of
the reverine areas affected by changes in the river hydrology due to
storage and deterioration of catchment areas; and
17. Remedial measures to protect the mangroves in the Indus delta, affected
by increased saline intrusion, which will destroy the province of Sindh.

18. Water Re-cycling, Improper and nonproductive allocation of irrigation water and
sufficiency in drinkable water to all the households of Pakistan are the major
problems country is facing these days.
19. At present the Govt. of Pakistan is not arguing with any other country about the
water usage.
Answers to Handout Questions:

20. Population is predicted to increase by 280%.

21. It is predicted to decline by 75%.
22. The relationship is inverse. With the rise in population the availability of water
will decline.
23. The case is such because the water sources are not increasing with the rapid
increase in population. So the consumption of the available water will increase as
the population increases. Thus the decline is per capita availability of water is a
result if the situation and we see the inverse relation ship.
24. The world would be different in a way that there would be numerous water borne
diseases, fatalities, highest prices of drinkable water, wars for water and various
hopeless conditions are predicted.
25. The developing countries and countries near dessert areas would be most affected
ones. Because there are already less money and natural resources of water there.
26. Yes! the drinking water is scarce in our community and we purchase the same
with a good amount of money spent every month.

Action Plan for Pakistan.

The proposed action plans are outlined in the following paragraphs.

(i) First of all, the backlog of following works must be completed and maintained; (a)
strengthening and revitalizing of Mangla and Tarbela watershed management projects,
including effective measures for monitoring and impact-evaluation with a view to
prolonging the life of the storage reservoirs; (b) priority public sector investments in
restoring / upgrading productivity of the reverine areas affected by changes in the river
hydrology due to storage and deterioration of catchment areas; and (c) remedial measures
to protect the mangroves in the Indus delta, affected by increased saline intrusion, which
will destroy the province of Sindh. President Musharraf should note that his dream will
remain unfulfilled, if the above works are not completed and results published in major
dailies to inform the people.

(ii) A comprehensive law should be enacted within six months to ‘Save the Indus’. Such a
law should substantively cover environmental protection of its overall ecology, protection
of all the rivers and their banks, their catchment areas, deltas, protection against discharge
of pollutants and industrial wastes into the river, speedy enforcement procedures and
severe punishment involving both imprisonment and fine. Pakistan would be in the
category of a modern country if we establish exclusive environmental courts in all key
districts situated on the banks of the Indus, its tributaries and major canals.

(iii) There is an urgent need to establish an ‘Indus Commission’ on the pattern of the
‘Ganges Commission’ of India. This commission should be a fully autonomous body
directly under the responsibility of the President or PM The scope of this organization
should be comprehensive enough to include all the water related roles of WAPDA and
IRSA. This Commission should deal with all matters purtaining to Indus and its
tributaries. The existing functions of WAPDA and IRSA together with functions of
environmental control should be transferred to this Commission. It must be adequately
staffed and funded. International cooperation should be sought. The Head Office of the
Commission should be at Panchnad, the confluence of our rivers, or at Sukkur or
Hyderabad. A detailed proposal can be prepared in this regard.

(iv) We must develop a crash programme for drainage facilities primarily in Punjab and

(v) A set of physical measures need to be developed on a priority basis. This essential of
these measures are the following: (a) A number of embankment schemes, particularly in
the critical areas, must be undertaken. This will also serve as flood control device.
Together with embankment, river revetments works would need to be taken at many
places. (b) Desiltation schemes in areas where the river has been fordable are urgently
required to be prepared and implemented. These schemes should include dredging of the
rivers in critical areas. In other words, we must increase the water retention capacity of
the rivers by deepening or broadening its longitudinal profile. All these will restore the
year-round navigability of the Indus. (c) Prevention of soil-erosion works. (d)
Establishment of a widespread network of lakes and ponds. The country has many
depression areas and swamps. We can convert these into big lakes. (e) Similarly, we must
dig ponds and tanks, through Social Action Programme. Can there be a better social
action programme than providing safe drinking water to our teeming millions? The
overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan do not have access to potable water.
Lakes, ponds and tanks can play a major role in improving our national water balance.
During the Mughal days, more than seven lakh tanks and ponds existed only in Bengal.
They were built by the Mughals mainly for drinking and irrigation purposes.

(vi) The impact of all the preventive and curative measures in the plain and deltaic
regions would be temporary unless we solve the root of the problem at the source,
emanating from the catchment areas of the Indus.

(vii) Intensify activities through on-farm water management projects in Punjab and
Sindh. The scale and magnitude of warabandi approach should be enlarged as much as

As regards Sindh, it may be said that the implementation of the above action programme
will certainly have positive impact on the water balance and ecology of the province. In
addition, a two-pronged action programme is specifically needed for Sindh and Karachi
to solve water crisis.

(i) Immediate rehabilitation and enlargement of its lakes and water bodies. In addition the
enlargement of the Hub Dam and its watershed is necessary to supply water to Karachi.
(ii) Immediate rehabilitation and rejuvenation of the mangroves of the Indus Delta. The
mangroves of the Indus Delta have been disappearing. Mangroves play crucial role in
protecting our coastal areas from the adverse effects of storms and high waves and
provide the best environments for the breeding of fisheries and crustaceans like shrimps.
They also provide a cheap source of fuel wood and fodder for camels and other animals.
While the forests of Sindh are being destroyed mainly by human beings mostly in the
name of law and order, the mangroves are being destroyed because of insufficiency of
water and reckless cutting of mangroves. Today only one fourth (4 lakh acres) of
mangrove exists out of a total 1.5 million acres in 1947. Before independence, there used
to be about ten varieties of mangroves, now only four species remain. Before, the
mangroves used to be tall now they are becoming shorter and dwarf. The main reason for
this is that the deposit of silt (which provides the nutrients for the mangroves) is
decreasing in the deltaic plain. Lack of safeguard measures by steel mill, refineries,
power stations, oil spills at Port Qasim and discharge of polluted water and industrial
effluents and sewerage into the Indus river, and fresh water lakes of Sindh and other
water bodies are gradually dying.

The water supply problem of Karachi is critical indeed. Ad hoc approach to solve Karachi
water supply did provide part-time relief but it is not a long term solution. Such adhocism
must be discarded. In the seventies Jeddah had worst water problem than Karachi. The
writer in 1975-76 was sent on deputation to the Islamic Development Bank as
Operational Advisor from ADB. In course of discussion he advised Saudi officials to
undertake desalinization projects. They did. Today Jeddah is becoming a green city and
there is no scarcity of water. It is not understood why such schemes were not undertaken
by Pakistani planners. Lack of funds can not be a reason as more than Rs.100 billions
have been spent on motorways.

Can motorways have a higher priority over water supply? How long the Karachi people
will continue to suffer in silence? The people of Karachi and Sindh will certainly
consider President Musharraf a great ‘Quaid’ if he solves Karachi’s water supply problem
through desalinization technology by transferring funds from motorway projects to
Karachi water supply projects.