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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/9/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Southeast nation has only a month in water reserves; agriculture, hydroelectric power threatened

Lack of planning coupled with lack of rainfall is pushing Pakistan into a very precarious corner. With only 30 days of water in reserve, the Southeast Asian nation's agriculture, industry and hydropower are at grave risk.

The World Resources Institute late last year ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.

The World Resources Institute late last year ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/9/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Pakistan, water supply, management, agriculture


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The country is gravely vulnerable to water-related (effects) of the changing weather patterns," Pakistan's minister for planning, development and reform, Ahsan Iqbal says. Officials addressed ongoing water concerns in a summit in the nation's capital.

Officials say Pakistan desperately needs more reservoirs to increase its water storage capacity. Leaders called for conservation awareness campaigns, as well as the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties along with more economical irrigation.

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The World Resources Institute late last year ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.

Pakistan needs a minimum storage capacity of 40 percent of the around 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus River system throughout the year. However, the country's storage capacity is only seven percent and is decreasing due to sediment build-up in reservoirs.

Pakistan's stored water supply is only adequate to meet its needs, of just 30 days. By contrast, "carryover capacity" in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt.

"In Pakistan, planners and policy makers across different sectors, including agriculture and industry, energy and health now have . a daunting challenge before them of increasing the country's water storage capacity," Iqbal said.

Pakistan Water Partnership's country director, Pervaiz Amir, warns that if climate change leads to lower water flows in the northwest of the country, it would cut the amount of hydroelectricity that can be produced.

Inconsistent rainfall and glacier melt in the face of climate change also means that agriculture, which accounts for over 96 percent of the country's water consumption will most certainly be affected, Amir said.

Without more facilities to divert and store water, heavy rainfall and flooding in some parts of the country will continue to damage crops, increase soil erosion and delay planting and harvesting.

Pakistan ranks ninth among countries most affected by floods, according to U.N.-Water's World Water Development Report.

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