Pakistan, a beautiful and diverse nation full of song, dance, craftsmanship, colour, and chai-loving locals faces a very dire situation. It is predicted that by 2025 Pakistan could be in the middle of absolute water scarcity.
The reasons for this are varied and convoluted – from outdated policy to inefficient irrigation, but the facts remain. Future Directions International reports:
“Pakistan’s water crisis is not limited to increasing scarcity, with poor water quality also posing a serious problem. Both surface and groundwater sources are affected by the issue. Currently, around 56 per cent of people in Pakistan have access to safe drinking water, while 30 per cent of diseases and 40 per cent of deaths are linked to unclean water. The divide is also stark between rural and urban populations; up to 70 per cent of rural Pakistan has no access to clean water. Bacterial contaminants in water and soil have risen considerably in the last 15 years, according to one report by the World Bank. That water is largely left untreated, posing a major health hazard.”
Underdeveloped wastewater treatment facilities are a key contributing factor to Pakistan’s poor water quality. Only Islamabad and Karachi have biological waste treatment facilities, and they are, at best, only partly functional.
Even if they were to operate at their full capacity, it is estimated that they would treat just eight per cent of Pakistan’s wastewater. Without dedicated facilities to treat wastewater, many toilets are connected to leaching pits or septic tanks connected to open drains, while many rural households still rely on latrines.
Open defecation is not uncommon in rural areas. Households then dump the accumulated faecal waste from latrines and septic tanks into rivers and fields in the absence of dedicated waste disposal initiatives.
The consequences of poor waste treatment practices are particularly evident in rural areas, where toilet facilities and piped water are often lacking. As a result, diarrhoeal diseases are most prevalent in rural areas.”
The Pakistani government is looking to reduce stress on the nation’s water by constructing several new dams. A new National Water Policy put into place in 2018 may help solutions be implemented quicker.
However, the battle is far from won and much planning, infrastructure overhauling, and Pakistan authorities must carefully be executing water resource management to avoid running out of water.