No water, no survival | Political economics


n the college hostel, I woke up in the morning to see a student standing in front of a sink. The faucet was running; he was a few feet from the faucet brushing his teeth.

We reside on a planet known as the water planet. Human beings settled near lakes and rivers for easy access to water. Historically, having access to water in times of war was an undeniable advantage because water played a decisive role.

Over time, civilized societies have advanced in terms of technology. The world population has increased multiple. Thus, the demand for water has increased over time. Awareness of the need for safe water is not a foreign debate. The stronger a country is economically, the more prosperous its citizens will be.

In the years to come, according to experts, the number of dams in a country will be an indirect indicator of its economy. The inhabitants of a country will have a prosperous life if they have more (fresh) water. Apart from other nations, every Pakistani has the potential to understand the value of fresh water.

Humans can survive without food, maybe for a while, but it’s impossible to imagine survival without water. People in Karachi, Gwadar and Quetta are facing serious problems due to water scarcity. In search of water, people migrated from their hometowns to new places in parts of Balochistan.

All high school students in Pakistan study in their science books that about 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. The five oceans contain 96.5% of the total water on earth. However, the water in the oceans is very salty, which makes it unsuitable for drinking and direct use.

Pakistan has already been declared a water-stressed country. Seventy percent of people in rural areas do not have access to drinking water. The water has been described as ‘blue gold’. Therefore, it is understandable to assess the direct proportion of people’s (happy) lives vis à vis the availability of water in any part of the world.

Water is very important for a country that depends on agriculture. To capitalize on lucrative commodities – which contribute to a nation’s exports, water plays a pivotal role in reviving the agricultural sector of a country like Pakistan.

Pakistan has already been declared a water-stressed country. Seventy percent of its inhabitants in rural areas lack drinking water.

Globally, only 3% of total water is fresh; humans can directly consume it for various purposes. 2.5% of fresh water is available in locked form, meaning it is found in the form of glaciers, ice caps and the atmosphere.

With over seven thousand glaciers in the country, Pakistan ranks first for having the most number of glaciers. With this number, citizens should be happy. But due to the melting of the glaciers, this happiness seems unsustainable.

The country’s water problem is getting worse every day. Many people suffer economically because the production of fruit, for example, grapes and apples, decreased. Many farmers have lost their agricultural land due to groundwater depletion. Near Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, the groundwater level has dropped to more than 1,000 feet.

In addition to the losses mentioned above, groundwater depletion imposes adverse effects on the strength and service life of building structures. Since the base of a building is connected to the hard ground via the foundation, the depletion of groundwater results in a new arrangement of the ground on which the foundation is laid. The new layout is different from the original design.

According to new research, excessive exploitation of tube wells leads to aquifer degradation. Not only does the amount of water decrease due to this, but it also causes the water level to drop. Provision of solar tube wells by local politicians could solve the water problem for a short time. Nevertheless, such provisions will leave a lasting negative impact on the next generation.

In Cape Town, South Africa, for example, water scarcity has led to droughts and famines. Unlike countries in Africa, Pakistan is blessed with regular monsoon rains. The country receives 145 MAF (Million Acre Feet) of water, but only 13.7 MAF is in its reservoirs and dams.

No water means no life; it is a universal adage. According to the World Health Organization, 2.1 billion people wake up every day without access to safe drinking water. More than 500,000 children die of preventable diseases caused by dirty water.

To survive in the years to come, Pakistan should have enough water. Compared to the rest of the world, this country can survive 30 days with current water resources. These periods are 200 and 900 days respectively for India and the United States.

Pakistan has few dams. Solving the water problem and getting the country out of the water crisis requires a collective approach. All political parties need to be on the same page to resolve such issues. There has not been a uniform approach to dealing with this problem so far.

It is wise to deal with the water crisis effectively and immediately. The government should help farmers adopt techniques such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. According to the 2018 National Water Policy, 10% of the national public sector development program will be reserved for water infrastructure.

The writer is a final semester civil engineering student at UET, Taxila. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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