Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pakistan has only 30 days of water reserves

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Inadequate planning is exposing Pakistan to water-related threats from climate change and putting the country’s agriculture, industry and hydropower at risk, water experts say. Speaking at a water summit in Pakistan recently, they said the country desperately needs more reservoirs to increase its water storage capacity, and they called for conservation awareness campaigns, the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties and more economical irrigation.

 “The country is gravely vulnerable to water-related (effects) of the changing weather patterns,” said Pakistan’s minister for planning, development and reform, Ahsan Iqbal, in a keynote address at the summit in the nation’s capital. In December, the World Resources Institute ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.

Iqbal said that Pakistan needs a minimum storage capacity of 40 percent of the around 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus river system throughout the year. But the country’s storage capacity is only 7 percent and is decreasing due to sediment build-up in reservoirs. This gives Pakistan a stored water supply, adequate to meet its needs, of just 30 days. By contrast, “carryover capacity” in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt, he said.

“In Pakistan, planners and policy makers across different sectors, including agriculture and industry, energy and health now have ... a daunting challenge before them of increasing the country’s water storage capacity,” Iqbal said....

The capacity of Khai dam in Pakistan, shot by Syed Usman Ali, Wikimedia Commons, public domain 

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