Countries with good governance spend a handsome portion of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on human development projects and act to spread awareness regarding the importance of water, among the masses. Unfortunately, we are far behind them for we lack such policies in our country. Only recently have some developing countries transformed into developed ones. One cannot help but wonder about the reason behind their success and sustainability.
Pakistan, being a developing country itself, dreams of entering the category shared by the developed bloc. But its dreams are hindered by the socio-political ups and downs and also the shortage of electricity and water it suffers from.
While water is essential to Pakistan’s progress, its consumption is divided into three categories; domestic, industrial, and agricultural usage. 96 percent of water is used by the agricultural sector while 3 percent is used by the domestic sector and the remaining 3 percent is then consumed by the industries.
However, our water resources are limited. River Indus alone provides 65 percent of total river flow, while Jhelum and Chenab’s contribution is 17 percent and 19 percent respectively. But, unfortunately, the low level of water flow in Kotri downstream has been creating hazardous issues and problems related to health & environment along with an economic threat to fishermen. It is also the root cause of land degradation and decreasing fish count.
In addition, the demand for water is rising in proportion to the increasing population. Besides, water and sanitation have become a neglected sector in Pakistan. The government’s spending in this sector as compared to other social sectors is negligible. After becoming a signatory to the UN’s Millennium Declaration in 2000, the percentage of the contribution to GDP, the contribution has only improved to 0.13 percent from 0.12 percent in the last few years. Moreover, the quality of water has also been deteriorating in Pakistan gradually. It is estimated that in Pakistan bad water quality is the cause of around 30 and 40 percent diseases and deaths.
According to Global Competitiveness Index Report 2012-13, “A population with poor access to water, food, shelter, healthcare, and sanitation cannot develop to its full capacity”. This means that it is extremely important for the government to take proper measures to resolve these issues if it is really dedicated to the development of Pakistan.
Pakistan cannot get on the road to sustainability until and unless the federal and provincial governments work to provide basic human rights, including access to clean water, to the people. While it is the government’s job to ensure that the rights of the people are protected, there is a great responsibility on the shoulders of the people as well. It is the duty of the people to consume water responsibly because reducing the percentage of the water wasted is the key to prosperity.
To ensure prosperity, more strategic agreements need to be signed with India in order to deal with our current and future water consumption requirements. Also, the government should highlight those agreements on international forums to pressurize India into keeping its word because a proper flow of water in the River Indus can help boost our economy and lead to development.
Sheikh, Furqan. Water should be provided to the thirsty. Daily Times, October 4, 2017.