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According to water specialist Simi Kamal, based on current projections, water availability (per capita) will be 855m3 by the year 2020.We have already used up everything that exists in our water cycle and we do not have additional sources of water to mobilize.Witness the women carrying water on their heads for miles in the scorching heat on one hand, and crops under flood irrigation and the cars of the rich being hosed down in the cities, on the other.An arid country, Pakistan depends heavily on annual glacier melts and monsoon rains.By 2003, Pakistan’s per capita availability of water declined to the extent that it was categorized as a water-stress country by the World Bank, surpassing Ethiopia and on par with African countries such as Libya and Algeria.
However, owing to the poor state of infrastructure, about two-thirds is lost due to poor transmission and seepage.
We have a situation where instead of improving farming methods to conserve water and increase productivity, agricultural landowners demand more water, only to maintain some of the lowest productivity rates in the world per unit of water and per unit of land.
All debates on water conservation, however, are cuffed by the constant refrain on dams and water sharing among provinces. The seeds of conflict on water in Pakistan, therefore, are sowed by nothing more than hydrology and this needs to be recognized.
In addition, uses of water other than agriculture – for domestic use, for industry, for urban areas, and for the environment – should all be incorporated for a robust water policy for Pakistan.
There is a need to recognize that just because certain water-related practices have gone on for centuries does not mean that they are allowed to continue in the face of a world in turmoil.
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If that balance is destroyed, then the entire water system is affected and will, over time, be felt right up to the watersheds.