Drought-Stricken Pakistan Receives Heaviest Snowfall in 48 Years

Pakistan is seeing an unusually wet winter this year after a very long drought. The country's northern areas received up to 1.8 and 2.1 m (6 and 7 feet) snowfall in January and the first week of February 2019, the heaviest in 48 years. Other parts of the country have seen torrential rains and flooding that required launching of relief efforts by Pakistani military and national and provincial disaster management agencies.

Pakistan Rain and Snow. Source: AccuWeather
Abdul Wali Yousafzai, a senior officer in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa irrigation department told Anadolu Agency that the "snowfall and rain will not only help to raise our water table but also be beneficial for our forests that had been affected by drought".  Prime Minister Imran Khan also welcomed it as "a blessing from God".  "The rainfall will raise the water table while the snow will melt into our river. It's a blessing from God," he said.

Unusually wet weather in arid Balochistan has caused deaths, injuries, property losses and displacement of people. At least 13 people are dead and dozens have been injured in the province. In addition, 1,970 houses having collapsed, 565 buildings partially damaged and 227 shops destroyed, according to Balochistan Disaster Management Agency.

Lack of rain and snow has caused recurring droughts in Pakistan since 2000 hitting hard the local population in many parts of Pakistan, Islamic Relief NGO reported February 11. The situation since 2013 has been particularly alarming due to 74% decrease in rainfall impacting hard on water management, agriculture, livestock, health, food security and livelihoods. It is in this context that the heavy snow and rains are being welcomed in the country. This offers at least temporary relief in a drought-stricken land.

The big picture is that Pakistan remains beset by a severe water crisis that could pose an existential threat if nothing is done to deal with it.  The total per capita water availability is about 900 cubic meters per person, putting the country in the water-stressed category. Agriculture sector uses about 95% of the available water. There are significant opportunities to achieve greater efficiency by using drip irrigation systems being introduced in Punjab. The New Water Policy of 2018 is a good start but it requires continued attention with greater investments and focus to deal with all aspects of the crisis.

Here's a video discussion on the subject:

https://youtu.be/nrfF3ppBzpo





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Winter Sports in Pakistan

Groundwater Depletion in Pakistan

Water Scarce Pakistan

Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan to Build Massive Dams

Dust Bowl in Thar Desert Region

Dasht River in Balochistan

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