Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Water Pressure On Pakistan

Via Reuters, a pessimistic report that Pakistan is running out of water so fast that the shortage will strangulate all water-based economic activity in the country by 2015.  This looming water pressure – in a politically dynamic state such as Pakistan with a neighbor (India) drawing from the same water source – is ominous.  As the article notes:

“…Pakistan has gone from a “water scarce” country to a “water-stressed” country, worse than Ethiopia, the Centre says quoting a  2006 World Bank study. In 10 years time, it will become a water-famine country.

Among the 25 most populous countries, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations, that study said.

According to the World Bank data, Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water, India stores 120 days, while the Colorado river system in the U.S. has storage capacity of up to 900 days of water usage.

The depletion of water resources is unchecked, as the 2009 UN World Water Development Report points out. It says that the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic metres per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic metres in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic metres per person.

…How did it get here? Pakistan is one of the world’s most arid countries, with an average rainfall of under 240 mm a year….  The population and the economy are heavily dependent on an annual influx into the Indus river system (including the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers) of about 180 billion cubic meters of water, that emanates from India and is mostly derived from snow-melt in the Himalayas.

But this single river system on which Pakistan almost entirely relies has been heavily harvested and there is no additional water to be injected into system.

Paksitan needs to conserve its water, use it more wisely and set up new reservoirs on an urgent basis, the South Asia Investor says. Or else the threat posed to the nation’s stability by the battle for water may yet turn out be just as serious as the militants trying to take control.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 1:03 pm and is filed under Pakistan, Tibetan Plateau.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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