Pakistan’s New Big Threat Isn’t Terrorism-It’s Water

August 5, 2013 • Water, Daily Email Recap

Pakistan’s New Big Threat Isn’t Terrorism-It’s Water

In a report released last week by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan was pinpointed as “one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, not far from being classified, ‘water-scarce’.” As water demand exceeds supply in the South Asian country, more and more water is being withdrawn from the nation’s reservoirs, leaving them in a critically precarious position. According to the ADB, Pakistan’s storage capacity, the amount of water it has on reserve in case of an emergency, is limited to a 30-day supply — far below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with similar climates. Without meaningful action, a water crisis could push the country into further chaos.

Consider what a water shortage means for Pakistan. The last several years have seen the country plagued by chronic energy scarcities. Power outages lasting up to 18 hours a day are routine throughout the country, and they have had damaging effects on the economy and on the wellbeing of Pakistanis. Citizens frequently take to the streets, demanding a solution from their government in protests that often turn violent, worsening an already tumultuous political environment. Deficiencies of another precious natural resource, such as water, have the potential to intensify the already unstable situation in the country.

Early signs of the potential imbroglio that could transpire are already beginning to take shape. Late last week, residents in Abbottabad vowed to hold mass demonstrations if the local government was unable to address rampant water shortages in the city. The city has lacked sufficient water for the past month, with over 5,000 homes impacted in the hottest months of the year.

At a conference organized around water shortages in the province of Sindh earlier this month, leaders of political parties and various trade organizations blamed a wide array of individuals, including former Pakistani heads of state, other provinces in the country, and even Pakistan’s neighbors, for the nation’s water woes.

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