A humanitarian crisis in the wake of a three years’ severe drought is likely to hit Gwadar as the situation is getting bleak day by day. The resident of Gwadar, Pasni, Jewani and their adjacent villages in Balochistan are reeling from a drought that has turned vast areas into a dust bowl, forcing the inhabitants to look for other means to meet their water needs. Reportedly, the Akara Kaur dam, the only source of water for Gwadar and surrounding areas, has almost dried up because of the prolonged drought. The dam, designed and built in early 1990s, has failed to keep up with the water demands of the city because of the growing population and the slow accumulation of silt in the reservoir. Water shortage in the dam is a serious issue. But much of the problem is a result of years of mismanagement of water resources as the federal and provincial governments have not paid attention to building small reservoirs or apply other techniques to store rainwater.
There are vast arid lands in Balochistan and Thar that primarily and solely depend on rainwater, and government should pay attention to the water needs of these areas and employ innovative methods that can help ward off scarcity and severe droughts. Due to water scarcity, the incidents of water being stolen by inhabitants, are becoming common in drought-hit areas. Drinking water has been so scarce that many people rely on boiling sea water. It is a commonplace that most of the families buy water from water supplying tankers, which collect water directly from springs or streams and sell it to the needy families without purification.
It seems that the government, policy makers and even the concern provincial officials are complacent with the problem of water scarcity, which is likely to get worse, if proper measures are not taken. As the Chinese government intends to make huge investment for the completion of CPEC project, the issue of water crisis needs to be dealt with on an emergency basis. The government needs to build small water storage structures to recharge groundwater. Collecting rainwater to recharge the aquifer is also a good option. The government should take the latest warning about water scarcity seriously and start efforts for preserving water for our present and future needs. Amid growing evidence that climate change is having wide-ranging global impacts that will worsen in the years ahead, different countries are planning to better utilise and manage their water resources. Innovative thinking and planning in advance are keys to deterring these climate-related miseries.
The looming water crisis in Gwadar deserves the immediate attention of the government. Other schemes such as collection of rain water must be worked out before it is too late. Unless there is a way to build infrastructure to quickly capture the rain, much of it will simply run off or evaporate. Government’s most urgent task is to help those suffering from the drought. It must also place water at the center of development agenda along with the CPEC project.
Source: Daily Times
December 11, 2016