World Water Day: Water Scarcity Hurting Pakistan
More than a billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, a basic necessity, on World Water Day today. In Pakistan alone, 38.5 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 50.7 million people lack access to improved sanitation, according to published data. Pakistanis are facing unprecedented shortage of clean drinking water and electricity due to the lowest recorded levels of water in the country's dams, according to Pakistani Meteorological Department. The mortality rate for children under-five in Pakistan is 99 deaths per 1000 children, according to Global Health Council. About half of under-five deaths occur in six countries with large populations: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan and China. Water and sanitation related diseases are responsible for 60% of the total number of child mortality cases in Pakistan, with diarrheal diseases causing deaths of 200,000 under-five years’ children, every year. Unsafe drinking water is shown to lead to poverty through time spent by women and girls to fetch ‘drinkable’ water from long distances. The combination of unsafe water consumption and poor hygiene practices require treatments for water borne illnesses, decreased working days, and also contribute to lowering of educational achievement due to reduced school attendance by children.
It is sad to see the growing water crisis in Pakistan whose Indus Valley has been the center of some of the world’s greatest civilizations: Harappa and Mohenjo Daro (2600 to 1900 BC) and Gandhara, (1st-5th Centuries AD); their social, agricultural and economic systems were based on their interactions with rivers (Indus and its tributaries, including the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and Kabul rivers, etc.) which provided irrigation and created fertile land for farming. Archaeologists believe that people of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa lived in sturdy brick houses that had as many as three floors. The houses had bathrooms that were connected to sewers. Their elaborate drainage system was centuries ahead of their time. A well established history, tradition and system of water management and entitlements has existed, from the Indus Valley Civilization to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty and the 1991 Water Accord which establish clear entitlements for each province and for each canal command to surface waters.
There is a severe water shortage looming in Pakistan. According to a 2006 World Bank report, it is fast moving from being a “water stressed country to a water scarce country”, mainly due to its high population growth, and water is becoming the key development issue. The groundwater is over-exploited and polluted in many areas; most of the water infrastructure (even some of the major barrages) is in poor repair; the entire system of water management is not financially sustainable. However, large parts of Pakistan have good soils, sunshine and excellent farmers; it can get much more value from the existing flows.
Among the 25 most populous countries in 2009, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations. India and China, however, are not far behind with per capita renewable water resources of only 1600 and 2100 cubic meters per person per year. Major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2300 (Germany) to 3000 (France) cubic meters per person per year. The United States of America, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation - with 31900 and 42500 cubic meters per person per year.
According to the United Nations' World Water Development Report, the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which puts Pakistan in the category of a high stress country. Using data from the Pakistan's federal government's Planning and Development Division, the overall water availability has decreased from 1,299 cubic meters per capita in 1996-97 to 1,101 cubic meters in 2004-05. In view of growing population, urbanization and increased industrialization, the situation is likely to get worse. If the current trends continue, it could go as lows as 550-cubic meters by 2025. Nevertheless, excessive mining of groundwater goes on. Despite a lowering water table, the annual growth rate of electric tubewells has been indicated to 6.7% and for diesel tubewells to about 7.4%. In addition, increasing pollution and saltwater intrusion threaten the country's water resources. About 36% of the groundwater is classified as highly saline.
In urban areas, most water is supplied from groundwater except for the cities of Karachi, Hyderabad and a part of Islamabad, where mainly surface water is used. In most rural areas, groundwater is used. In rural areas with saline groundwater, irrigation canals serve as the main source of domestic water.
Out of the 169,384 billion cubic meters of water which were withdrawn since 2000, 96% were used for agricultural purposes, leaving 2% for domestic and another 2% for industrial use. By far most water is used for irrigated agriculture. With the world's largest contiguous irrigation system, Pakistan has harnessed the Indus River to transform 35.7 million acres for cultivation in otherwise arid conditions. Yet,the sector contributes less than 20% of the Pakistan's GDP and Pakistan remains a food-deficit nation.
In sharp contrast to the peaks of the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas at the headwaters of the Indus River, the Indus valley plain flattens out dramatically as it runs to the sea.
The very low rainfall, poor drainage, ancient marine deposits, saline groundwater, and evaporation and transpiration combine to create a vast salt sink.
The steady expansion of irrigation and agriculture added greatly to this process of accumulating salt that over time waterlogging and soil salinity have emerged to threaten the sustainability of Pakistan’s agricultural system.
Pakistan is currently experiencing water stress and will soon face outright water scarcity. High population growth is causing ‘water stress.’ Pakistan is using almost all its water resources today and no more are available. If something goes drastically wrong with the salt/sediment/water balance of the Indus system, there is no other river system in the region to draw on.
A World Bank report recommends that Pakistan needs to set up new water reservoirs on an urgent basis, citing scarcity of water to get worse in the near future.
The aging and inadequate irrigation and water infrastructure deficit alone is estimated at US $70 billion. Pakistan needs to invest almost US $1 billion per year in new large dams and related infrastructure over the next five years.
According to the World Bank data, Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water, India stores 120 days, while the Colorado River System in the US has storage capacity of up to 900 days of water usage. The report says that new water reservoirs will push Pakistan’s economy forward. It says that a new dam can potentially add four to five percent to Pakistan’s GDP.
Water is also essential for power generation in Pakistan, but only about 20% is generated by hydroelectric power plants. The current power shortage of approximately 2,000 megawatts will increase to 6,000 megawatts by the year 2010 and 30,700 megawatts by the year 2020. Pakistan has the potential to generate as much as 50,000 MW of hydroelectric power, more than twice its total current generating capacity of 20,000 MW from all sources, which is far short of the nation's needs, limiting Pakistan's social and economic growth prospects.
In addition to the development of new water reservoirs, serious conservation steps need to be taken to improve the efficiency of water use in Pakistani agriculture which claims almost all of the available fresh water resources. A California study recently found that water use efficiency ranged from 60%-85% for surface irrigation to 70%-90% for sprinkler irrigation and 88%-90% for drip irrigation. Potential savings would be even higher if the technology switch were combined with more precise irrigation scheduling and a partial shift from lower-value, water-intensive crops to higher-value, more water-efficient crops. Rather than flood irrigation used in Pakistani agriculture, there is a need to explore the use of drip or spray irrigation to make better use of nation's scarce water resources before it is too late. As a first step toward improving efficiency, Pakistan government has launched a 1.3 billion U.S. dollar drip irrigation program that could help reduce water waste over the next five years. Early results are encouraging. "We installed a model drip irrigation system here that was used to irrigate cotton and the experiment was highly successful. The cotton yield with drip irrigation ranged 1,520 kg to 1,680 kg per acre compared to 960 kg from the traditional flood irrigation method," according to Wajid Ishaq, a junior scientist at the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB).
Beyond the urgent need for improving farm water use efficiency, Pakistan must address the safety of drinking water to improve the health of its people. It must take steps to protect its water streams from industrial pollution and sewage discharge. Along with various international institutions and NGOs, the leadership should undertake projects that will help in providing hygiene and sanitation promotion and community mobilization along with extensive capacity building in order to complement Pakistan's substantial investments in hardware for safe drinking water. A big part of it is education, followed by practical assistance to communities in setting up better sewage treatment and waste disposal systems that are locally supported by cities and towns.
The Medium Term Development Framework 2005-2010 provides for about US$404 million per year government spending for water supply and sanitation projects and is accompanied by several policy documents with the objective to notably improve water and sanitation coverage and quality. Availability of clean water in reasonable abundance is essential for sustaining life and improving the future of the people of Pakistan. The challenges are great and the stakes are very high. Failure is not an option.
But the challenges of poor sanitation are too big and complex to expect Pakistani government alone to deal with them. The nation's private sector and NGOs must rise to the occasion. There are successful examples of private citizens addressing sanitation issues on a local, community level. For instance, Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan is the force behind Orangi Pilot Project to help residents of Orangi Town, a katchi abadi (shanty town) in Karachi to help themselves. It has assisted in a number of projects to build better low-cost housing, improve sanitation and establish schools with the participation of the community. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Acclaimed social scientist Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan used to reference this well-known proverb (according to his son, Akbar Khan), as it quite fittingly represents his philosophy on community development.
While the problems faced by Pakistan are huge, I believe that a serious and organized initiative by a tiny percentage of Pakistan's large middle class of at least 40-50m people can begin to make a difference. Pakistanis owe it to themselves and their poor brethren to step up and take responsibility for improving the situation of the most vulnerable citizens of their country. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But we must persevere by taking one step after another until we see results.
Here's a video clip on safe drinking water:
United Nations World Water Development Report
Water Resource Management in Pakistan
Water Supply and Sanitation in Pakistan
Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness
Safe Drinking water and Hygiene Promotion in Pakistan
UN Millennium Development Goals in Pakistani Village
Orangi Pilot Project
Three Cups of Tea
Volunteerism in America
Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan's Vision
Last summer, farmers in agricultural heartland of Pakistan began to notice the levels of both the river and groundwater starting to fall.
The waterways, which bisect the Punjab, meaning "five rivers", are fed with glacial meltwaters from the Himalayas and for centuries has provided crucial irrigation for the region, the Independent reports.
Pakistan has blamed India, saying it is withholding millions of cubic feet of water upstream in Indian-administered Kashmir and storing it in the massive Baglihar dam in order to produce hydro-electricity.
Taking water out of the system is in breach of a 1960 treaty designed to administer water use in the region, Pakistan claims.
Talks to resolve the issue have been put on hold following the Mumbai terror attacks in Novmeber, when tensions between the two countriesincreased.
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, said: "The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India. Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism."
Earlier this month the UN warned the world may be close to its first water war. "Water is linked to the crises of climate change, energy and food supplies and prices, and troubled financial markets," a report on the issue found. "Unless their links with water are addressed and water crises around the world are resolved, these other crises may intensify and local water crises may worsen, converging into a global water crisis and leading to political insecurity and conflict at various levels."
Some predict that the first major water war will likely be fought between India and Pakistan, if the current issues between the two nations are not resolved and the water shortage in Pakistan becomes more acute. Already, several rivers in Pakistan have dried to a trickle. Once a strong-flowing river, Chenab in Punjab is now a slow-flowing trickle. Locals say the river once came up close to the top of the road bridge but now it dribbles past, meters below.
According to the United Nations' World Water Development Report, the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which puts Pakistan in the category of a high stress country.
Among the 25 most populous countries in 2009, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations. India and China, however, are not far behind with per capita renewable water resources of only 1600 and 2100 cubic meters per person per year. Major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2300 (Germany) to 3000 (France) cubic meters per person per year. The United States of America, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation - with 31900 and 42500 cubic meters per person per year.
The heat is scorching as the young woman knocks on the window of my taxi, though rather than begging for cash she points at my water bottle, then to her mouth.
In a city where clean water has become a commodity that is delivered to the highest bidder, the poor often have to go without.
Yet those who have money can easily get enough. In Mumbai's wealthy suburbs, large tankers delivering water are commonplace.
Every day more than 5,000 tankers deliver some 50 million litres of water to people who can pay, according to unofficial estimates cited by the newspaper Mumbai Mirror.
But even if the wealthy were to go without such top-up deliveries, there would probably not be enough water to go around.
Mumbai's Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) delivers some 90 litres of water per day to the city's residents.
That is far short of the 135 litres of water the World Health Organization (WHO) says they require for their basic needs.
So in Mumbai, there is growing anger over the water shortages.
Last month, BMC hydraulic engineers' office was vandalised by activists. Over the weekend, a man died after violent clashes in the city between police and protestors who demanded better access to water for the disabled.
But the lack of access to clean water is by no means merely a problem facing those who live in India's biggest cities.
In the central Indian city of Bhopal, people who live in some of the slums pump drinking water from groundwater contaminated by industrial pollution. Children who live in the slum play by the filthy and rubbish-strewn river that runs past.
Head out into rural India, and three-quarters of the population does not have access to safe drinking water.
As the population continues to grow the problem is getting worse.
India's water needs are set to double over the next two decades, according to consultants McKinsey.
Production of rice, wheat and sugar is set to push up demand from Indian agriculture, the consultancy warns.
And the problem is growing, both in India, as well as in China, South Africa and Sao Paulo state in Brazil.
By 2030, the four areas will account for more than two fifths of the world's water demand, largely thanks to a sharp rise in food production, McKinsey says.
By then, demand for water will be 40% higher than it is currently, the consultancy predicts.
The sharing of river waters between India and Pakistan is a "sensitive issue" that has the potential for triggering a war between the two countries, an adviser to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said.
Sardar Aseff Ali, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, made the remarks while speaking to the media after a seminar in Lahore yesterday.
He claimed India "will have to stop stealing Pakistan's water as the latter will not hesitate to wage war" over the issue.
Pakistan might seek international arbitration on the water issue by taking it up with the International Court of Justice or the UN Security Council if India tries to build any more dams that affect the country's share of waters, Ali said.
Pakistan can also back out of the Indus Waters Treaty and India will be responsible for the consequences, he said.
However, Ali also acknowledged that a solution to the problem cannot be found through sentimental rhetoric and the Indus Waters Treaty is the proper forum for resolving the issue.
Replying to a question on India's Baglihar dam, Ali said former President Pervez Musharraf was responsible for this project being built without any protest from Pakistan.
There are clear indicators that India could soon face a very grave water crisis. According to the Central Water Commission the levels of water in India’s main reservoirs had not been filled after the last year’s monsoon that was the worst in 37 years. To add to the woes there was a nearly complete
failure of the winter rains with the result that the water levels in 20 out of 21 major reservoirs are less than 40% of capacity. Some are a lot less like Bakhra that is reported to be just 12%, UP reservoirs under 20% and Gujarat 23%. The Tehri dam was emptied so that over 60 million worshippers could bathe at the four month long Maha Kumbh Mela. The recent forecast of a normal monsoon is cheering but it is just a forecast and could be completely disrupted if a big cyclonic storm were to disturb the monsoon buildup.
The water in all the rivers of India and Pakistan are very low so it is no surprise that the water in the Yamuna has fecal coli form reported to be 100 times higher than water that is fit for bathing let alone drinking. Recent reports from Mumbai show that the water levels in their reservoir are now dangerously low with no chance of replenishment till the monsoons. The same story is being repeated in almost every Indian city where the meager resources and infrastructure are being constantly stretched as hoardes of migrants flood into them every day. Every city, state and central government official will promise more irrigation projects and more pipelines but will in fact have no short term solutions. If there is no water there will be nothing to pipe in. Desalination plants will not also be a solution because they need a lot of electricity that too is insufficient.
The sound of trumpets–or was it sirens–was heard from Delhi this week as India’s Premier got loud about his country’s future energy needs. It’s not often we are treated to such transparency. In contrast, China tried to spin its own future call on global energy through the framework of limits this week when it declared it would hold coal consumption to 4.0-4.2 Mt (million tons) by 2015. Clearly, China’s coal consumption juggernaut wants to downplay the fact that these are coal use levels 25 percent to 30 percent higher than today.
In India, meanwhile, they are willing to put some big raw numbers on the situation:
Premier Manmohan Singh told India’s energy firms on Monday to scour the globe for fuel supplies as he warned the country’s demand for fossil fuels was set to soar 40 percent over the next decade. The country of more than 1.1 billion people already imports nearly 80 percent of its crude oil to fuel an economy that is expected to grow 8.5 percent this year and at least nine percent next year. Demand for hydrocarbons — petroleum, coal, natural gas — “over the next 10 years will increase by over 40 percent,” Singh told an energy conference in New Delhi.
Question: Is it energy that India needs? Or is it food? This is, of course, roughly the same question. As we look at the chart below, showing the decline of arable land in India from 1961 – 2007, let’s consider that India’s population rose from 444 million to 1.124 billion in the same time period.
Arable land in India has been cut in half over the past 45 years, declining from 0.35 hectares per person to the current 0.14 hectares per person. Cornucopians will protest. They’ll say global productivity of agriculture has soared over the past 50 years, and they would be correct in making such a claim. But the question is: how was that advance actually achieved?
Primarily through fossil fuels, of course. Which gets us back to Premier Singh’s clarion call. With its population having nearly tripled in 50 years, and its arable land cut in half, India is going to have to become much more productive on its remaining land. To do so, it will need to significantly increase its use of fertilizer that either comes straight from the ground, like Potash, or through manufacturing–which requires natural gas. This does not even address India’s growing water problem.
Or, that like many other Asian and Middle Eastern countries, India too has gone abroad in search of farmland. | see: FarmLandGrab.org for both a running tally and newsflow on this global mega-trend
BATING for a “credible” water sharing treaty with China on the lines of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) India has Pakistan, government officials here admitted there was no “verifiable system” of checking or probing China’s dam building spree particularly on the on the Yarlung Tsangpo River (aka Brahmaputra). Officially, however, India on Monday said it was verifying reports of such activity.
“We are seeking details from our Embassy in China. We are trying to get more details both from the government and depending on the reports we get, we will be able to make an assessment and take appropriate steps,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said.
“We have no reason to believe otherwise,” the government sources said, when asked if the satellite imagery has been indicating any activity along the river.
India’s worry mostly stem from the fact, that any Chinese activity of blocking waters would spell disaster on several hydropower coming up in Arunachal Pradesh.
Of India’s hydropower potential of 150,000 megawatts (MW), 50,000 MW is in the northeast. And AP, which is mainly fed by Brahmaputra’s tributaries –Siang, Subansiri and Lohit.
In many other parts of the world, alternate floods and droughts are not incompatible. The answer relates to both the extremes of the local climate (which climate change is likely to make much worse), and local society’s ability to harness or limit the effects of such natural phenomena. In the case of Pakistan, however, the biggest long-term threat seems likely to be drought. The World Bank in 2004 produced a study of the prospects for Pakistan’s water resources in the coming decades that is profoundly worrying, especially given a population which (unless the birthrate can be brought down much more steeply than hitherto) may well reach 335 million by the middle of this century. In principle, Pakistan can cope with it, because if infrastructure and water use are improved, there will be enough water to go around. But this will require profound changes in Pakistan’s state and society, and to put it mildly it is not clear if the country is capable of such positive change. And by the way, the World Bank’s frightening predictions hold true even without factoring in the unknown impacts of climate change.
After droughts ravaged his parents' farmland, Sixteen-year-old Hassain and his two-year-old sister Sareye became some of the newest refugees forced from home by water scarcity.
"There was nothing to harvest," Hassain said through an interpreter during an interview at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya which is housing some 160,000 Somalis displaced by a lack of water. "There had been no rain in my village for two years. We used to have crops."
As global warming alters weather patterns, and the number of people lacking access to water rises, millions, if not billions, of others are expected to face a similar fate as water shortages become more frequent.
Presently, Hassain is one of about 1.2 billion people living in areas of physical water scarcity, although the majority of cases are nowhere near as dire. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.
Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.
Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures."The war was also a reason why we left," Hassain said. "There was a lot of fighting near my village."
"Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution," said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. "The world's water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs."
"Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems," he told Al Jazeera.
Some experts believe the only documented case of a "water war" happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.
But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.
"I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water," Darwish told Al Jazeera.
Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.
Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.
A drop in temperature in the northern areas of the country has led to reduced water inflows in rivers and low water levels in major reservoirs, prompting the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to possibly cut Punjab and Sindh’s water shares by up to 20%.
The body is expected to face strong resistance from the affected provinces.
A final decision in this regard is expected at Irsa’s special advisory committee meeting on July 21, chaired by Irsa chief Rao Irshad Ali and attended by provincial members of the body and irrigation secretaries of all four provinces.
Sources say Irsa’s only option is to slash the provinces’ water share since water stored in major reservoirs including Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma is 7% lower than the same period last year.
The three dams have a combined storage capacity of 12.1 million acre feet (MAF), but currently only hold about 5.4 MAF, according to data released on Saturday.
The authority may cut Sindh and Punjab’s shares by 11,000 and 5,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) respectively if a consensus is arrived at the advisory committee meeting.
After the reduction, Sindh is expected to receive 169,000 cusecs of water against its existing share of 180,000 cusecs, while Punjab would receive a reduced share of 113,000 cusecs of water against 118,000 cusecs.
There would be no cuts in shares of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and they would receive 13,000 cusecs and 3,000 cusecs, respectively.
However, the shortage is expected to be temporary. A senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that 200 millimetres of rainfall was expected in upper catchment areas of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that could ease the water shortage in major reservoirs.
The forecasted 10% more scattered rain in catchment areas could help fill the reservoirs to their maximum capacity by mid-August, he said.
India and China account for one third of the world’s population; each consumes more freshwater than other nations. Per inhabitant per year, though, India uses less than half what’s used in the US, China uses less than one third. This YaleGlobal series examines India and China’s water use, their expectations for rising demand and recognition that shortages will disrupt economic progress. The Planning Commission of India repeatedly warns that water will become a more serious issue than land or energy for India in years to come, points out Rohini Nilekani, in the second article of the series. India’s transition from an economy based on agriculture to a mixed one, with water use controlled by states rather than the federal constitution, already leads to conflicts. She urges planning for a low-water economy: Good governance and regulatory frameworks can prevent pollution and waste, while encouraging efficiency, reliable and fair allocation, and wise consumer choices. – YaleGlobal
BANGALORE: By July this year, the monsoon has established itself vigorously over much of the subcontinent. The anxieties of the long, intense summer months, when nations hold their collective breath in anticipation of the cooling, life-giving rain, have receded. But the region’s1.6 billion people know that next summer, the worres will return.
Water is ultimately a finite resource. With all finite resources, there is a continuous need for sustainable and equitable management, by capping demand, improving efficiencies in supply and developing substitutes. This exercise is complicated by the sociocultural beliefs, values and affinities around this precious resource.
Currently, Indian politics is dominated by controversies over natural-resource management, particularly land acquisition. Although economic liberalization is more than two decades old, there’s little clarity or consensus on the governance and regulatory frameworks for the inevitable land transfers needed for the transition from a primarily domestic and agricultural economy to a mixed and globalized one.
ISLAMABAD: With Pakistan increasingly becoming water deficient, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has drawn up plans for creating capacity to store an additional 20 million acre feet (MAF) of water on ‘war footing’ to keep the economy floating.
The Irsa finalised recommendations in this regard with input from all its members after a former chairman of the authority, Fatehullah Khan Gandapur, set off alarm bells by declaring that Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960 was almost dead because of excessive losses in storage capacity.
Mr Gandapur wrote letters to the president and prime minister in which he said: “The IWT ceases to function as Tarbela and
Mangla reservoirs have lost 6.6MAF of replacement storage due to silting.”
He criticised the team of bureaucrats currently engaged in negotiating the country’s water rights with India and said the officials were simply incapable of handling “an issue of national survival”.
“Blatant violations of the treaty by India by building dozens of low and high dams on all the six rivers and tributaries has exceeded the allowable storage limit of 4.19MAF fixed in the treaty,” he said. So far, the dams have created 10MAF of dead storage and 25-30MAF of live storage, depriving Pakistan of its water rights for Rabi and Kharif crops.
More high dams are under construction.
Sources told Dawn that on the directives of the president and prime minister, the government’s adviser on water and the Irsa members had a marathon briefing session with the former Irsa chairman early this week and finalised recommendations for creation of additional storage capacity. The recommendations would be submitted to the prime minister for approval.
The report on the recommendations says the situation will become worse in the next couple of years. That’s why it is imperative that an additional capacity of 20MAF be created on war footing to protect the agricultural economy.
The Irsa also warned the government about the proposed construction of around a dozen dams by Afghanistan on Kabul river and suggested that talks be initiated immediately with the Afghans for finalising an agreement to protect Pakistan’s water
The Irsa seconded Mr Gandapur’s proposal for construction of the 37MAF Katzarah Dam near Skardu because it was non-controversial and could enhance the expected life of the downstream dams and barrages, including Tarbela and Diamer-Bhasha.
The authority was also in agreement with Mr Gandapur’s suggestion that the multipurpose 8.5MAF Guroh Dop dam on river Panjkora near Chitral should be built for storing every year about 7-8MAF of water that ultimately falls into Kabul river.
This would stop water from Panjkora from going into Afghan territory. It said a water treaty with Afghanistan was important because Panjkora or Chitral river contributed more than 50 per cent of the Kabul flows.
Mr Gandapur also reminded the government of a report prepared recently by US Senator John Kerry cautioning about a water war in South Asia, saying India had 33 projects at various stages of completion on the rivers that affected the region. He warned that as a consequence of the continued violations of the IWT by India Chenab and Jhelum rivers would turn ‘seasonal’ and Pakistan would not be able to grow Rabi crop and early Kharif crop.
He alleged that the Pakistani authorities had ignored the construction of Uri-II project by India in occupied Kashmir which was an essential part of Kishenganga project. “Pakistani negligence will help India win the controversial Kishenganga case,” he said
Washington, Feb 23 (PTI) With an increase in demand for water and energy resources in both India and Pakistan, a Congressional report has questioned the long-term effectiveness of the Indus Water Treaty, which has been successfully implemented for more than six decades between the two South Asian neighbours.
"While the IWT has maintained stability in the region over water, experts question the treaty''s long-term effectiveness in light of chronic tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, where a significant portion of the Indus River''s headwaters originate," it said adding that as the existing agriculture system becomes more water-intensive and, in some areas, more inefficient, water may prove to be a source of instability in South Asia.
The report, "Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia�s Growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan," sheds light on the drivers of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and provides recommendations for how the US should strategically approach water-related issues, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Written by the majority staff of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the report draws attention to the growing problem of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and how it has the potential to exacerbate existing regional conflicts and lead to new ones.
"While much of our focus currently rests on Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must also consider the interests in the shared waters by India and the neighbouring five Central Asian countries �Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan," John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a statement.
"In addition, others question whether the IWT can address India''s growing use of the shared waters and Pakistan''s increasing demand for these waters for agricultural purposes," said the 28-page report.
"Signed in 1960, the IWT is considered as the world''s most successful water treaty, having remained relatively intact for 50 years and having withstood four Indo-Pak wars," it added. .
Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for technical and financial cooperation in the construction of multi-billion-dollar Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
The MoU will be inked next week, said the Ministry of Water and Power after a meeting between Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar and the Manila-based lending agency’s Director of Energy Wing Rune Stroem on Friday.
Stroem is leading a delegation to assess detailed engineering design of the dam, which will store 8.5 million acre feet of water for irrigation purposes and generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity.
The delegation, the first formal mission on Diamer-Bhasha Dam, will also review the cost component and consider options to make it a bankable project, as the ADB alone cannot finance the full cost estimated at $11.2 billion.
The government and the ADB also agreed to organise roadshows in three different countries with the assistance of international lenders, equipment suppliers and others concerned for seeking co-financiers for the project, said the water and power ministry.
An official of the Economic Affairs Division said the ADB has not yet formally conveyed the exact size of the loan but there are indications that the agency may extend up to $4.5 billion that will meet 40 per cent of financing needs.
After a refusal in 2008, the World Bank also recently expressed its willingness to finance the project, said the official. The US has also committed to financing the project under the Kerry-Lugar Act, but it also has not given the exact size of its share in the financing.
Stroem said the mission was giving highest priority to Diamer-Bhasha Dam and looking for its early execution. Praising the progress made so far on the project and the efforts to resolve related matters, he said the project would help improve socio-economic life of people and bring prosperity in the country.
Naveed Qamar said the ADB’s role as lead financier of the project would help attract other donors and sponsors to fund mega projects in Pakistan. He said the project would be a milestone for the country’s economy and meet water and power needs.
The government is attaching high priority to the project and has completed all formalities for its construction, hinting at its approval at the Council of Common Interests, the highest constitutional body on inter-provincial matters.
Qamar said most of the land for the project had been acquired and the resettlement package was being implemented. The ADB mission also discussed the energy efficiency programme and matters relating to other mega water and power projects being executed by the government with the cooperation of the bank.
Stroem said the bank was also considering various other projects for financial and technical assistance in the water and power sector.
Matters relating to power sector reforms and rehabilitation of electricity generation companies were also discussed. The mission was told that rehabilitation of power companies was under way, which would be completed at the earliest.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the lead financer of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on Tuesday suggested Pakistan to focus on resolution of revenue sharing issue between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as well as affected population and address issues of environment degradation for smooth execution of the mega project.
ADB’s Head of Energy Division Rune Stroem while speaking to a select group of journalists along with the ADB’s Country Director to Pakistan Werner Liepach after conclusion of his visit to Pakistan aimed at ‘critically reviewing the mega project’. He said, “ADB is fully aware that there will be strong debate on revenue sharing and ADB can give advice but at the end the issue will have to be decided by the Council of Common Interests.” The KP government is disputing over the ownership of 18 kilometres long belt with GB government in a bid to get share in income from the power generation. The GB legislative assembly has passed the resolution against the provincial government claim and intends to take the matter to the Supreme Court if it is not amicably resolved.
“Pakistan has not been focusing on social aspects of the project as much as one could hope,” Stroem said and added that the success of the project hangs on local people satisfaction with resettlement activities. “The resettlement work has been done but still there are gaps where the government needs to bring in improvement as per international standards,” he added.
Explaining the gaps, Stroem said individual activities were going on at relatively small scale and lots of pilot projects have been initiated. He said the legal dispute over sharing of revenues between GB and KP has to be worked through and on environment no sufficient work has been done yet.
Stroem said there was a need to ensure minimum water flows during storage to offset negative impact on the environment. He said no water flows at the time of construction and storage will have adverse affects.
Having an estimated cost of $11.20 billion the project is planned to be completed in 12 years that will generate 4,500 megawatts (MW) electricity besides storing 8.5 million acres feet water for agriculture purposes. The project’s groundbreaking has been performed twice. The ADB official said that the agency has not yet fully assessed the price and completion period but the total cost may change due to price escalation.
Stroem said that an unwritten agreement has been reached with the government. According to that the ADB will play its role as senior lender, co-financer and will be the financial adviser to Pakistan on the project. He said next week both the parties will review the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding that clearly defines the role of the ADB in project execution.
He said the project can’t be donor-driven instead the government is the primary driver and it’s cognizant of the fact. The ADB was helping the government to structure the project and make it bankable. “It is the most complex and the most comprehensive project the ADB has ever financed.”
Liepach said that the ADB has not yet framed clear views on the dam financing requirements but the export credit will be major source of financing. Other than the export credit the international financial institutions and commercial financing would also be availed to complete the project, he added. Stroem said the Water and Power Development Authority will evaluate the bids for the project but the ADB will also review to ensure transparency. The ADB has strong anti-corruption policies and the agency’s involvement will give more credit to the project, he added.
FAISALABAD: Adoption of modern water conservation methods and agricultural practices is imperative to cope with water scarcity as Pakistan has been placed in red zone due to low per capita water availability at 1,000 cubic metres.
These were the views of speakers who addressed a seminar titled “Remote sensing and hydrological modelling for irrigation water management”, organised by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and Water Management Research Centre, University of Agriculture Faisalabad on Saturday.
University Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad said Pakistan was on the verge of water scarcity and should take extra measures to fight the challenge by creating awareness. In 2050, he said, the water situation would be alarming with per capita water availability at 550 cubic metres.
India has 1,600 cubic metres of water per person per year while major European countries have up to twice as much ranging from 2,300 cubic metres in Germany to 3,000 cubic metres in France. Ahmad said remote sensing could help get important data on crop production and irrigation needs.
The World Bank said Tuesday it would fund two projects totaling $1.09 billion, in energy and irrigation, aimed at supporting Pakistan's growth agenda for reducing poverty.
The World Bank's executive board approved the projects Tuesday, the development lender said in a statement.
The $840 million Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will add power generation capacity of 1,410 megawatts, contributing a crucial source of electricity for the economic growth and development of Pakistan, the World Bank said.
Only 15 percent of Pakistan's vast hydropower potential has been developed, the Bank noted.
The Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will use the existing dam, tunnel, roads and transmission line for generating additional electricity in summer months when demand for electricity and river flows are high, it added.
"The beauty of this project is that it will help Pakistan reduce the gap between supply and demand of electricity by maximizing the benefits of existing infrastructure of Tarbela Dam without requiring any land acquisition or relocation of population," Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank country director for Pakistan, said in the statement.
"The direct beneficiaries will be millions of energy users, including industry, households and farmers who would get more electricity at a lower cost and suffer fewer blackouts."
The $250 million Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Project is aimed at getting maximum productivity out of irrigation water by weaning farmers away from the traditional and "wasteful" flood irrigation, the Bank said.
The project will emphasize more modern methods like drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, which in turn will encourage crop diversification, it said.
The hydropower project includes a $400 million, 21-year loan from the Bank's International Bank of Reconstruction and Development that includes a grace period of six years.
The remaining $440 million of the Tarbela project and $250 million for the irrigation project are credits from the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary lending arm.
These 25-year loans have a 1.25 percent interest rate and a five-year grace period, the Bank said.
Water availability across our part of the world is already unpredictable due to climate changes with a simultaneous increase in major flooding and severe droughts. A Dutch study has estimated that shrinking Himalayan glaciers will reduce the flow of water to the Indus by around eight per cent over the next four decades. This is not a good sign for Pakistan, which is already described by the UN as one of the world’s “hotspots” as far as water shortages are concerned.
The 1960 Indus Water Basin Treaty, signed at a time when India and Pakistan both had abundant water is now outdated. The Indus Water Treaty gave Pakistan rights over the Indus Valley’s three western rivers, while India controls the three rivers to the east. India has initiated several dam and power station projects on the western rivers, fuelling fears that these activities will alter water flows across the border. India dismisses Pakistan’s fears as paranoia, yet, it too fears that China may attempt to change the course of the Tsangpo/Brahmaputra River in Tibet. India also has tensions with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal over water sharing.
The existing Indo-Pak water sharing paradigm may no longer be able to address the emergent tensions. Despite numerous rounds of bilateral talks, India and Pakistan are back in the Permanent Court of Arbitration over Indian dam building aspirations in Kashmir.
More innovative approaches have called for an integrated approach towards water management instead of trying to merely divide waters of the Indus basin. Such an approach would not only be more sensitive to the ecological and environmental challenges taking place in the region, but potentially help nudge our neighbouring countries towards broader cooperation as well.
Positive confidence building steps would include greater information sharing concerning river flows. Launching joint Indo-Pak dam ventures such as the Tala Hydroelectric Project, recently initiated between India and Bhutan, would be a further step in the direction of increased cooperation.
Conversely, it is crucial to acknowledge that our existing water woes are being compounded due to wastage, inefficient use and contamination. Water infrastructure systems, such as canals and pipes used to irrigate farm lands, are falling apart due to lack of adequate attention. Application of donor-backed policies like charging flat rates for irrigational water usage (as in Punjab) have not been able to generate the required resources to maintain the irrigational infrastructure, nor do they help ensure that poorer farmers are spared the brunt of revenue collection, or ensured better access to existing water supplies.
The untenable strain on groundwater is another serious issue. According to the World Bank, Indian aquifers are reaching critical conditions despite the fact that over 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture and 85 per cent of drinking water supplies in the country depend on groundwater. The groundwater situation in Pakistan is no better, yet, anyone with the money to pay for diesel can pump out as much water as they like. In fact, Pakistan has been keen to lease out vast tracts of its agricultural land to enable agribusiness companies produce food for Gulf states by tapping even deeper into already shrivelling water aquifers.
...Do we produce enough electric power in Pakistan? No. Do we have enough water storage capacity? Well, it depends on 1) how we define ‘enough’; and 2) ‘where’ we want to store. Of all the available water in the Indus basin of Pakistan, approximately 95 per cent is directed to agriculture of which over 70 per cent goes waste; less than 30 per cent of it is the actual requirement for the crops we grow.
We can build a new dam to store water, or we can use an available storage space in the form of natural ‘aquifers’. Current knowledge of hydrogeology tells us that water storage is carried out better in aquifers than in dams.
If only we refill the depleted aquifers under the city of Lahore, we can store more water than the Tarbela reservoir — that too with the least social and environmental impact.
Rachna, Thal and Bari Doabs all offer excellent aquifers which could be exploited for storage, offering a potential storage capacity hundreds of times more than that of Tarbela, Mangla and Kalabagh combined. Although refilling an aquifer would be expensive, it would be much cheaper than building a large dam.
What about power? Do we need a dam for it? Let’s do some simple math here: the dam building might cost $10 billion with an estimated generation capacity of 5GW. This power, however, enters the grid only after completion of the dam which might take, say, 15 years.
With the prevailing technology of solar power, it costs approximately 90 cents to produce one watt. Given $10bn, we produce 10GW and production can start within the first few months of the project, progressively reaching 10GW in, say, two years.
So what is better — $10bn for 10GW in two years or $10bn for 5GW after 15 years plus the huge social and environmental impact?
The donor countries also share part of the project proportionate to their share of ‘donation’, thus creating jobs and businesses for their own citizens involved in that project. With this, their ‘donated’ capital comes back to re-circulate within their own economies, while the economy of the country being ‘helped’ hardly benefits.
Till the project is complete, the host country accumulates a huge debt, plus interest, without having earned anything. As soon as the project starts delivering, the host country is obliged to meet the loan repayment schedule.
The lending agencies yet again dictate the price of economic goods delivered by the project to match the repayment instalments. The host government returns the loan with interest by making its citizens pay a higher price (than the actual production cost) over a period of 30 years or so.
By the time loans are paid back the project has already lived its useful life and is in a state requiring major overhauls. For example, the lake behind a dam is silted and the power-generating infrastructure is in need of critical repairs and replacements.
This is usually the time when teams of ‘experts’ on behalf of the lending agencies start appearing on the scene yet again, ‘advising and warning’ the host government on the ‘next mega project’ which is deemed ‘absolutely necessary’ to fix the ‘critical’ problems they have identified, or else face doom.
Poor countries like us end up ‘raising the dykes of Mangla dam’ and then keep paying for the facility which they thought they had already paid for. Now we know who are the ‘experts’, where they come from, and why they ‘care’.
Building a large dam for water management and electricity generation is an expensive, unsustainable and outdated idea. Today’s knowledge offers far more economical and sustainable solutions. We must get our investment priorities right — using vision, foresight and the latest knowledge at hand.
Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change due to its location, population and environmental degradation. According to a 2013 report from the Asian Development Bank, Pakistan has one month of water supply on hand. The recommended amount is 1,000 days. 80 percent of Pakistan’s agriculture relies on irrigation from the overstressed water system.
Pakistan’s average temperature is expected to increase around 3 degrees Celsius within the next 50 years — this will make food and water challenges even more taxing. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that people are already migrating out of the Pakistan for just these reasons.
The study, which focuses on rural Pakistan, found “that flooding — a climate shock associated with large relief efforts — has modest to insignificant impacts on migration. Heat stress, however — which has attracted relatively little relief — consistently increases the long-term migration of men, driven by a negative effect on farm and non-farm income.”
It goes on to state that “agriculture suffers tremendously when temperatures are extremely hot … wiping out over a third of farming income.”
For those in Pakistan relying on the large timber industry for their livelihoods, the outlook is also grim. Deforestation is a major problem in Pakistan, with the country only retaining between two and five percent of its tree cover. About 43,000 hectares, or 166 square miles, of forest are cleared annually. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, this is the highest deforestation rate in Asia.
Deforestation is not an easy problem to address. Each of Pakistan’s five provinces has its own deforestation laws. There is a strong timber mafia that has a hold over many local and timber officials. And recently a shortage of natural gas for heating and cooking has led to an increase in the country’s middle-class cutting down trees for energy use. Pakistan’s population has more than quadrupled since it was founded in 1947, and the country now has an estimated 180 million residents. Deforestation contributes to flooding, and in 2010 Pakistan experienced devastating floods after a strong monsoon season that killed around 2,000 people.
“There is no doubt that deforestation is threatening the livelihoods of many poor people in our country who depend on the forests for their fuel and livelihood needs,” Syed Mohammad Ali, a development consultant, wrote in an op-ed last year. “Deforestation is also blamed for exacerbating the damage caused by natural disasters such as floods and landslides, since the absence of tree cover causes soil erosion and diminishes groundwater absorption. Researchers have also identified deforestation as a major factor behind expansion of the country’s heat zone, reduced flow in the Indus River as well as shrinkage of the Indus River Delta.”
In December the World Bank gave Pakistan nearly $4 million to study deforestation and how to address it. Naeem Ashraf Raja, the director of Pakistan’s biodiversity program, told the Washington Post that “officials also hope to convince the United States and other foreign donors to help launch programs to compensate landowners who agree not to cut trees......
ISLAMABAD: South Asia should spend as much as $2.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard required to serve its growing population, said a World Bank report on Wednesday.
“If South Asia hopes to meet its development goals and not risk slowing down — or even halting — growth, poverty alleviation and shared prosperity… it is essential to make closing its huge infrastructure gap a priority,” the report said in probably the first analysis of the region’s infrastructure needs.
The report, entitled “Reducing poverty by closing South Asia’s infrastructure gap”, says that “infrastructure deficiencies in South Asia are enormous, and a mix of investment in infrastructure stock and implementing supportive reforms will enable the region to close its infrastructure gap”.
Pakistan should invest $165 billion over ten years in improving infrastructure in transport, electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, telecom and irrigation sectors, according to the report.
For the required investment in electricity sector of up to $96bn, Pakistan should generate funds through government-private sector partnership, the report said.
The average share of Pakistan in the total infrastructural investment in South Asia is only 12 per cent compared to 79 per cent by India, the report says.
In this program 5 farm ponds with a capacity of 55 acre-ft of water have been excavated. Experience indicates that these ponds were filled to their capacity in early rain showers of the monsoon season 2013. It can be safely opined, farm ponds of same size or even larger capacity for rain harvesting in the region are imperative to cater the crop husbandry in the years to come. The University has prepared a program of raising high value crops from these ponds. The developed farm ponds are sufficient to irrigate an area of 150 acres orchard crops including olive, grapes, citrus, fig, apricot, almond, pears besides tunnel vegetables especially tomato, cucumber, etc. using drip irrigation. The University rain harvesting model is meant for production and knowledge dissemination to the Pothwar farmers. Experts understand that rainwater harvesting can be extended to other parts of the country even in irrigated area and especially with sloping lands such as Cholistan, Thar, Thal, Baluchistan, KPK and AJK. Being a water professional Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, Vice Chancellor played a pivotal role for initiation and completion of this pilot project at the Farm.
Ground water provides a huge natural reservoir, for instance, Rechna Doab (area between Ravi and Chena) alone equates the capacity of 5 Mangla reservoirs. This is a loud and clear message for our policy makers considering option of harvesting flood water in the groundwater reservoirs, since the flood flows carry around 30 to 40 MAF of water every year to the Arabian Sea whereas the minimum flow required to the sea is only 10 MAF. These ponds would be greatly contributing towards recharge of groundwater reservoir, which is under threat at the moment.
The rooftop rainwater harvesting in the urban areas provides another opportunity for kitchen gardening of vegetables for domestic at household level. The practice of kitchen gardening is very famous and popular in most of the developed world where rooftop rainwater is harvested and used for vegetation. It is worth considering that devastation witnessed during the monsoon floods in Pakistan can be minimized if flooding waters are ponded both at upstream and downstream along the river banks as practiced in other parts of the world. In view of all this, Govt. of Pakistan needs to initiate a comprehensive program on rain/flood water management. Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi offers its services for preparing a mega project for rainwater harvesting both and urban rural areas of Pakistan.
Extreme weather conditions and erratic rainfall had added an edge of desperation to Muhammad Khan’s struggle for survival, taking him and his family to the brink of ruin. But that is happily in the past now, says the farmer in Pakistan’s Punjab province whose life has undergone a dramatic change after he started irrigating his land from rainwater harvested in a small dam in the village.
“I had a bumper vegetable crop in the last season. I have recently bought a new tractor and also started sending two of my grandsons to a private school,” said the 65-year-old resident of Thoa Mehram Khan village in Punjab’s Talagang sub-district.
With the bounty of plentiful water, Khan has been irrigating 16 acres of his 50 acres of land from the small dam and growing off-season vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and cauliflower as well as fruits such as grapes and watermelons. This was unthinkable earlier.
He is not the only one. Others in the village are also cultivating newer crops on land that was arid not so long ago. Rainwater harvesting is a relatively new and innovative concept for many farmers in the region who are delighted to have water for crops and livestock throughout the year.
“Rainwater harvesting has also helped raise the groundwater table from 450 feet to 200 feet in the village,” says Khan. “This is also inspiring people of nearby villages to pool money for building mini dams so they can reap the benefits of modern agriculture.”
To construct a mini dam for rainwater harvesting, a natural stream or nullah (water channel) near farmland is identified and then choked by building a wall in the front. An engine is installed and water supplied to farms through a pipeline.
The small dam, which is 15 feet in height, is built on government land in the village and has a catchment area of one square kilometre, a command area of 250 kanals (about 500 square metres) and storage capacity 29.21 acres/feet.
The cost of the $4,279 project, which has changed so many lives, was shared by 20 families of the village and by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, both sides paying $2,139, an official said.
The importance of harvesting water is underscored by a research paper published by the Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, which estimates that the Potohar Plateau, including the Chakwal, Jhelum, Attock and Rawalpindi districts of Punjab province, covers an area of 2.2 million hectares and receives as much as 70% of its precipitation in just the monsoon season.
On top of this, groundwater supplies are depleting at 16 to 55 centimetres (6 to 21 inches) a year across Punjab province, according to a study by the International Waterlogging and Salinity Research Institute.
An estimated 64% of the country’s population lives in rural areas and earns a living from agricultural activities such as crop cultivation and livestock rearing, according to the 2010 agricultural census carried out by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. There are 50,588 villages in Pakistan but all may not have terrain suitable for rainwater harvesting. The Potohar Plateau is believed to be the most suitable area in the country for natural places for rainwater harvesting with experts identifying 74 sites.
Around 145 million acre feet of water flows through Pakistan each year, but the country’s existing storage capacity is only 14 million acre feet. “Small dams and rainwater harvesting techniques could help the country increase its water storage capacity from 30 days to the international standard of 120 days,” said Dr Pervaiz Amir, country director for the Pakistan Water Partnership.
http://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/answer-to-uaes-water-security-crisis-could-lie-in-pakistan-says-head-of-geowash … via @TheNationalUAE
ABU DHABI // The answer to the UAE’s water shortage could lie in a pipeline from Pakistan, according to an Emirati businessman.
Abdulla Al Shehi, chief executive of Geowash, has written a paper suggesting an underground pipeline from Dasht, a river 500 kilometres away in Pakistan, to Fujairah.
“Technology is not a problem. We are at an advanced stage in engineering where it is possible politically as well. I don’t think there will be any problem. It is beneficial for both countries,” he said.
He said the Dasht River floods annually, which prompted the Pakistani government to empty the excess water through channels leading to the sea. That excess water, said Mr Al Shehi, could be put to use in the UAE.
The idea may sound far-fetched, but Mr Al Shehi is something of a specialist in saving water.
Since its inception, Mr Al Shehi has run Geowash, which washes a car using only four litres of water, compared to the 220 litres conventional cleaning takes.
Mr Al Shehi’s technique has allowed the company to save 500 million litres of water since 2008.
The pipeline, if built, would not be the longest – that honour belongs to Turkey’s 9,300km pipeline in the Harran Plain.
Nor will it be the most difficult feat of engineering. However, it would face other issues that Mr Al Shehi admitted.
“There will be an environmental impact. There might be a negative effect, which I think is minor,” he said.
“However, the benefits in saving water from desalination and the amount of biological life it will spur will offset the effects.”
However, for Professor Hussein Amery, who wrote a book titled Arab Water Security, the concept of creating a pipeline is fraught with political issues.
“I won’t discuss the economics of engineering challenges. I am suspicious of a project of this sort, because let me remind you that Qatar and Kuwait both have explored importing water from south-west Iran,” he said.
The problem with creating cross-country pipelines, he said, was that it created a security situation where a nation is dependent on a neighbour – described by Prof Amery as “hydro-dependency”.
“Gulf-Pakistani relations are different than Gulf-Irani relations. I am totally aware of that, but the engineering would be challenging and difficult considering the terrain,” he said.
He said that the political and technological hurdles can be overcome, but even then, the idea still would not be efficient.
“We use a very small amount of water in our homes in the Gulf states,” he said.
“Anywhere between 70 to 80 per cent goes to agriculture.
“It’s much cheaper and much more efficient to have the Pakistanis grow wheat and feed cows, then export the food [than import the water and grow food locally].”
Furthermore, he said, the UAE relies heavily on a very energy-intensive water source.
“The biggest threat is that it [the UAE] is hyper-arid and it doesn’t have any permanent water source, which created the reliance on desalination technology, as such it has become the destiny for the Emirates and other Gulf states,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Masdar, said although it is investing heavily in researching renewable energy to provide energy to desalination plants, he welcomed new ideas, especially as the year of innovation comes to a close.
“I think that the very spirit of creating a company like Masdar is to encourage people to come up with ideas, some which are very practical and others more ambitious,” he said. “Either way, it warms my heart that Emiratis and expats alike are thinking proactively of solutions.”
Pakistan's water managers are looking to NASA satellites to help them more effectively monitor and manage that precious resource, thanks to a partnership with engineers and hydrologists at the University of Washington, Seattle.
"Satellites up in space looking at how much water we have underground, in rivers or in the atmosphere are providing routine observations that can help policymakers and on-the-ground managers make informed decisions," said Faisal Hossain, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington. "From offering improved flood forecasting to indicating areas where groundwater resources are threatened, freely available satellite data can be an invaluable resource, particularly in developing countries."
After training at the University of Washington, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources in January 2016 began using satellite data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission to create monthly updates on groundwater storage changes in the Indus River basin. This will allow them to see where groundwater supplies are being depleted and where they are being adequately recharged. Like all NASA satellite data, GRACE data are freely available for download from open NASA data centers (GRACE Tellus and the Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
GRACE's pair of identical satellites, launched in 2002, map tiny variations in Earth's gravity. Since water has mass, it affects these measurements. Therefore, GRACE data can help scientists monitor where the water is and how it changes over time. Using tools developed by the University of Washington and partners at the University of Houston; Ohio State University, Columbus; and NASA's Applied Sciences Program, Pakistan's water managers and researchers can analyze the NASA data to estimate changes in the total amount of available water, as well as changes in groundwater supplies.
"Using these satellites, we can indicate the areas that are most threatened by groundwater depletion. We can tell the farmers and water managers and help decision makers formulate better and more sustainable policies," said Naveed Iqbal, an assistant director and hydrogeologist at the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. Iqbal spent six months at the University of Washington learning how to analyze and process the GRACE data to enhance decision-making at his agency.
GRACE project scientist Carmen Boening of JPL, which manages the GRACE project for NASA, said, "This is another great example of the unique ability of GRACE to see changes in water resources on a regional scale and provide easily accessible information where data are otherwise limited."
Compared to traditional groundwater monitoring efforts, the satellite information offers less spatial resolution but huge benefits in terms of cost and efficiency. For example, Pakistani water managers spent eight years building a groundwater monitoring network in the Indus River basin alone, and that network provides readings only twice a year.
"It's so fundamentally difficult to do this monitoring in a conventional way—sending people and sticking probes in the ground to measure water. It takes a long time and it's expensive," said Hossain, who runs the University of Washington's Sustainability, Satellites, Water and Environment Research Group. "In some places you can't even send people because the terrain is too remote or there is mortal danger due to insurgency and political strife."
With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million.
But as in many other parts of the world, researchers say, Pakistan’s glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations, including here in the Hindu Kush mountain range in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Among the causes cited by scientists: diminished snowfall, warmer temperatures, heavier summer rainstorms and rampant deforestation.
To many, the 1,000-square-mile Chitral Valley has become a case study of what could await the rest of the world if climate change accelerates, turning life-supporting mountains into new markers of human misery.
“It’s already happening here, and my thinking is, in the coming years it will just go from bad to worse,” said Bashir Ahmed Wani, a Pakistani forestry specialist with the Asian Development Bank.
Over the past six years, the Chitral Valley has also experienced three major floods that many Pakistani scientists attribute to climate change. The floodwaters killed more than 50 people and stranded hundreds of thousands while undercutting a once-vibrant tourist industry still struggling to rebound after Sept. 11, 2001.
Despite such calamities, the valley has come to symbolize the way a poorly educated populace can compound the effects of climate change, creating a cycle of hardship that is difficult to break as the needs of humans compete with the needs of nature. Its glaciers offer a stark example.
As the valley’s population has soared — from 106,000 in 1950 to 600,000 today — most residents get just two to four hours of electricity a day, they say. Without reliable refrigeration, they turn to vendors hawking chunks of the valley’s shrinking snowpack.
Every day, residents say, scores of these entrepreneurs drive five to seven hours to the mountain peaks, where they hack into the glaciers — or scoop up the pre-glacial snow — and load the haul into their jeeps and trucks. Back in the valley, they shovel the snow and ice into shopping bags and sell it for 50 cents a bag.
“There are no fans, no refrigerators working, so I will store this for cooler water and then use it for drinking,” said Ubaid Ureh, 46, as he held two dripping bags. “The doctors say we shouldn’t drink it, but we have no choice.”
Hameed Ahmed Mir, a local biodiversity expert who has worked for the United Nations, said the harvesting of the Chitral Valley’s glaciers saps in one day what otherwise could be several months’ worth of stable water supply.
One cubic yard of ice weighs about a ton — enough to supply four to seven families with drinking water for several days — and one vehicle can carry three to four tons of snow or ice, he said: “Then multiply that by 200 vehicles per day.”
Khalil Ahmed, a former project manager for the U.N.-supported Glacial Lake Outburst Floods Project, said Pakistani law does not make it clear whether the government or the public owns the country’s vast glacial reservoirs.
“We are trying to initiate a dialogue with the local people, but these are poor people,” he said, noting that glaciers in the neighboring territory of Gilgit-Baltistan are also being sold off.
‘isolation’ is a bigger challenge for New Delhi this time: Firstly, because Uri involved fewer victims than Mumbai; secondly, because they were soldiers, not civilians as in 26/11; and thirdly, because various countries have bilateral reasons not to isolate Pakistan.
The US needs Pakistan because of Afghanistan, and China has major strategic interests there, especially a $46 billion economic corridor that is China’s single biggest overseas development project. As long as major powers choose to stay engaged with Pakistan, overlooking its misbehaviour, diplomatic isolation will have its limitations as a policy.
‘Surgical’ airstrikes seem superficially attractive, not least because, in Eliot Cohen’s marvellous formulation, they are an option rather like modern courtship — they offer the possibility of gratification without commitment. You fly from a great height, drop a few bombs and come back home, without taking the issue any further, leaving your victims to contemplate the smoking ruins.
What about Pakistani retaliation, which is sure to be swift and perhaps disproportionate? At what point do you stop the punishment that will inevitably provoke more reprisals? And what about the international opprobrium you will incur for violating the LoC or worse, breaching an international frontier?
Above all, what about the ancillary risks of further escalation? India’s overriding priority is economic development, which requires foreign investment and a peaceful climate for economic growth. How does that square with the military adventurism being advocated by our armchair generals? Investors, naturally, do not like to invest in war zones. Can we afford to drive away the funds without which we cannot pull our people out of poverty?
The possibility of India revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty signed with Pakistan in 1960 has also aroused some strategists, and even MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, who said pointedly that “any cooperative arrangement requires goodwill and mutual trust on both sides”.
Under the treaty, India has control over three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej —and Pakistan the western rivers of the Chenab and Jhelum. Swarup darkly hinted that it was in jeopardy: “For any such treaty to work, it is important there must be mutual trust and cooperation. It cannot be a one-sided affair.”
But the treaty under which the waters of the Indus and its five tributaries are distributed between the two countries is not purely a bilateral affair; it was brokered by the World Bank, whose involvement will be automatically triggered if India unilaterally abrogates it.
Nor can it be done like turning off a tap; various measures would be required to ensure that Indian cities do not get flooded with the water that is no longer flowing to Pakistan.
Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) secretary for Water and Power, and Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, Sun Weidong, signed the MoU under the CPEC agreement during the Diamer-Bhasha Project Conference hosted by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) in Beijing, China.
Under the MoU, China’s NEA would oversee building and funding the five hydropower projects that have an estimated total installed generation capacity of 22,320 MW and according to WAPDA, the Indus River has a potential of producing 40,000 MW.
The Indus River Cascade begins from Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan and runs through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both located in the northwestern portion of Pakistan. Overall, Pakistan has identified a potential of 60,000 MW from hydropower projects.
The planned cascade includes the 4,500-MW Diamer-Basha project, which is already being constructed and four additional projects being developed: 2,400-MW Patan; 4,000-MW Thakot; 7,100-MW Bunji; and 4,320-MW Dasu.
In April, WAPDA awarded a pair of contracts to perform resettlement works associated with construction of the two-stage Dasu hydropower project to China's Zhongmei Engineering Group, worth about $18.56 million combined. The work includes the resettlement of Barseen, Kaigah, Khoshe, Logro, Nasirabad and Uchar.
WAPDA said the resettlement package includes utilities, roads and other amenities including schools, livestock accommodations and recreational areas.
In February, WAPDA announced it finalized the main contracts for civil works for stage-1 of the Dasu project, which is 2,160 MW. The Dasu hydropower stage-I project is estimated to cost about $4.2 billion and is located on the Indus River in the Kohsitan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Its location is about 240 km upstream of the 3,480-MW Tarbela hydropower complex and 74 km downstream from the Diamer-Basha site.
According to CPEC information, funding the Indus River Cascade represents China’s second-largest investment in Pakistan following $57 billion already committed to several infrastructure improvements under the CPEC.
Mobile phones and satellites are becoming valuable farming tools in Pakistan.
A new program there uses satellite information to estimate how much water a field needs. The satellite then sends this information by text message to farmers' mobile phones.
The program’s aim is to prevent the farmers from overwatering crops. A 2013 report from the Asian Development Bank says Pakistan has some of the most severe water problems in the world. The country’s water availability is similar to Syria’s, where a lack of rainfall has intensified civil war.
Pakistan is only able to store water that can last up to 30 days. That is far below the recommended storage amount of 1,000 days.
Several issues have led to Pakistan’s water crisis. They include climate changes, a growing population, local water mismanagement and a greater demand on farmers.
Many fear the water crisis could weaken relations between Pakistan and India. The two countries share the Indus River.
Turning off the water
Many older Pakistani farmers received agricultural training several years ago, when water was more readily available. They know the risks that come with underwatering crops.
But using too much water can reduce crop harvests.
The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources found that rice farmers were using more than three times as much water as they needed.
The council asked the Sustainability, Satellites, Water, and Environment research group, at the University of Washington, to get involved. The council wanted the research group to use science to help inform irrigation choices.
Pakistan's program started with 700 farmers in the spring of 2016. By January, 10,000 farmers were receiving text messages with a water amount advisory. For example, one message read: "Dear farmer friend, we would like to inform you that the irrigation need for your banana crop was 2 inches during the past week."
The messages come from a fully-automated system. It uses publicly available satellite information. It also uses models to compute how much water each farmer needs to irrigate.
A national effort
The council plans to expand the program for use across the country, and expects millions of farmers to participate. But first the system must be reviewed.
The researchers want to know how easy it is for farmers to use, and how many follow the irrigation advisories. They also want to know how accurate it is and whether it saves farmers money.
They are collecting responses from farmers over the phone.
Faisal Hossain is with the University of Washington. He says he has not seen a report on the results yet. However, the group heard from one farmer in the program who said he was able to get about 700 kilograms more wheat than his neighbor. The farmer said he believes the irrigation advisories made this possible.
Expanding the program may be difficult. The council may need to work harder to persuade farmers to trust the technology. Those working on smaller farms may not feel comfortable depending on mobile phone technology.
Mobile phones are already very common in Pakistan, however. And last year the Punjab government announced that it would give out 5 million smartphones to farmers.
Islamabad : The government is likely to approve an ambitious plan to store floodwater in existing fifteen natural lakes linked with wetlands that would be a nature-based solution of its own kind in the country.
A high official of the climate change ministry told this correspondent that an international organization has recently submitted a report that stated that Pakistan stored only 9 percent of floodwater and the remaining amount went down to the Arabian Sea.
He said “The report pointed out that the melting of glaciers starts in the northern region and monsoon arrives from the southern region. All this happens within 100 days so the flow of water can be turned towards the natural lakes that are part of the wetland sites.”
The official said the natural lakes linked with wetlands can provide enough storage capacity and considerably ensure availability of water throughout the year.
He said there are one million tubewells in Pakistan due to which the level of underground water has reduced in last few decades, adding “The plan will also help recharge aquifer and raise the level of underground water. The whole country will benefit from this plan that is likely to be approved soon by the federal cabinet.”
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has said the government is finding out nature-based solutions to the issue of water storage in the country. He said: “We have received a report from an international organization and it has shown us a path to store floodwater in existing natural lakes.”
These natural lakes are currently losing their water level so the plan would not only restore them to their original status but also help raise the level of groundwater in Pakistan, he said.
The groundwater systems of northwest India and central Pakistan are among the most heavily exploited in the world. However, recent, and well-documented, groundwater depletion has not been historically contextualized. Here, using a long-term observation-well dataset, we present a regional analysis of post-monsoon groundwater levels from 1900 to 2010. We show that human activity in the early twentieth century increased groundwater availability before large-scale exploitation began in the late twentieth century. Net groundwater accumulation in the twentieth century, calculated in areas with sufficient data, was at least 420 km3 at ~3.6 cm yr–1. The development of the region’s vast irrigation canal network, which increased groundwater recharge, played a defining role in twentieth-century groundwater accumulation. Between 1970 and 2000, groundwater levels stabilized because of the contrasting effects of above-average rainfall and the onset of tubewell development for irrigation. Due to a combination of low rainfall and increased tubewell development, approximately 70 km3 of groundwater was lost at ~2.8 cm yr–1 in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Our results demonstrate how human and climatic drivers have combined to drive historical groundwater trends.
The agricultural sector in Punjab is central to the Pakistan’s economy and food security as it accounts for 73 percent of the country’s total food production. The Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation Project (PRIAT) will increase agricultural productivity through efficient and equitable access to water for small farms. It will support farmers at the community and household levels to adopt climate-smart farming practices and technologies that improve crop yields and conserve water resources in Punjab.
“In recent years Pakistan’s agriculture sector has suffered from losses in crop yields and livestock, damage to irrigation infrastructure, and food shortages due to climate change, particularly severe droughts in the Punjab province,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This project aligns with the Punjab Agriculture Policy 2018, which promotes massive expansion of water conservation efforts, enhancing sustainability and resilience in the wake of climate change, and private sector participation to help boost the productivity of the sector.”
PRIAT will support farmers implement innovative, climate-smart technologies to help the Punjab government achieve economies of scale to transform the agricultural sector. The project will engage the private sector in sourcing appropriate technologies and providing training tailored for water user associations and individual households to improve water conservation practices and agriculture productivity.
“The agriculture sector has a huge opportunity to both build climate resilience and improve economic conditions by generating access to domestic and international markets,” said Guo Li, Task Team Leader for the project. “PRIAT will help accelerate the government’s efforts to transform the agri-food system through market-oriented production activities that add value, increase competitiveness and generate higher incomes for farmers.”
The project will benefit about 190,000 small, family-owned farms and 1.4 million acres of irrigated land in rural communities in the province. It will also provide training to small- and medium-sized farm owners on water conservation and more sustainable, climate-resilient agricultural practices, including for women. About 74 percent of women in the province rely on agriculture as a source of livelihood.
The World Bank in Pakistan
Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 60 projects and a total commitment of $14.2 billion.
They said the Dam had registered a gain of 96 feet in last 10 days. It may be noted that the Dam was at the level of 1405 feet on 1st of July when monsoon weather had hit the country. In other words, said the sources, the Dam was possessing one percent storage of its total capacity on 1st of May which has risen to 49.34 percent on Friday. The dam has been filled by half, they added.
Mangla Dam, on the other hand, was carrying 4.57 percent storage of its capacity, which has reached 13.24 percent on Friday. So far as the water level is concerned, Mangla was at the level of 1098 feet, which has reached 1126.7 feet. The maximum conservation level of Mangla Dam is 1242 feet.
Director PMD Shahid Abbas confirmed the development, saying that Mangla has been filled by 13 percent and Tarbela by 49 percent. According to him, Tarbela could be filled to the maximum conservation level before 20th of July as there is no need of irrigation water for the agriculture of Sindh and Balochistan provinces due to heavy spells of rains.
At present, he said, 150,000 cusecs water is being released from the dam on daily basis, which is more than the agricultural need of the two provinces. The other purpose being met by this huge release of water is to generation of some 3000 plus megawatt electricity from the Dam, he added.
According to him, since the relevant authorities have no idea as how water is expected from the hilly sources, therefore, they are not in a hurry to fill it up. An early filling up of this dam may lead to heavy release of water in case of flood like situation after heavy rains in the hilly areas, he added. He said, another reason of releasing excessive water is the non-availability of storage capacity. He said the water being released at present is enough to fill another two dams of similar capacity in the country.
Meanwhile, the monsoon waves have proceeded to Sindh, particularly Karachi, to shower rain from Saturday night. Also, Director PMD said, the current monsoon waves would bring heavy downpour in Balochistan and lower parts of Southern Punjab for the next three days. The monsoon waves are likely to revert to the catchment areas of all the five rivers from 20th July until 22nd of July, including central Punjab and upper parts of the country.