From 1997 to 2002 Pakistan faced a severe shortage of water due to a cycle of drought and reduced storage capacity of the two reservoirs. Pakistan is not alone in going through the experience of water shortage; there are many other countries in similar situation. This work enables me to discuss world water crisis and that of Pakistan. The world faces crisis of unprecedented level because of the failure of world leaders to take action on population growth, pollution and expected climate changes. According to a UNESCO report, "No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis which touches every facet of life, from the health of children to the ability of nations to secure food for their citizens". World-wide supplies of water are falling while the demand is growing at an unsustainable rate. This situation shows that over the next 20 years, the average supply of water world-wide per person is expected to drop by a third. Presently, many countries and territories of the world are already in a state of crises. The poorest country in terms of water availability is Kuwait, where 10 m3 is available per person each year followed by Gaza Strip (52 m3), the UAE (58 m3), etc. Mostly poorest countries in terms of water availability exist in the Middle East. The richest county in terms of water availability is French Guiana, where 812,121 m3 water is available per person per year, followed by Iceland (609,319 m3) Guyana (316,689 m3), Surinam (292,566 m3), Congo (275,679 m3), Canada (94,353 m3), New Zealand (86,554 m3),etc. According to a UN report, by the middle of this century, at worst seven billion people in 60 countries will be faced with water scarcity, at best two billion in 48 countries, depending on factors like population growth and policy making. Climate change will account for an estimated 20 per cent of this increase in global water scarcity. The report further disclosed that humid areas will probably see more rain, while it is expected to decrease and become more erratic in many drought-prone regions and even some tropical and sub-tropical regions. Water quality will worsen due to rising population level and water temperature. According to this report, the future of many parts of the world looks bleak. Per capita water supplies will reduce by a third, even though birth rates are slowing down, the world's population should still reach about 9.3 billion by 2050, compared to 6.1 billion in 2001. Why this world-wide water crisis and increased water pollution? This is due to about two million tonnes of waste being dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams. One liter of waste water pollutes about eight liter of fresh water. According to the UN report, there is estimated 12,000 km3 of polluted water world-wide, which is more than the total amount contained in the world's ten largest river basins at any given moment. Therefore, if pollution keeps pace with population growth, the world will effectively lose 18,000 km3 of fresh water by 2050. This quantity of water is more than nine times the total amount countries currently use each year for irrigation, which is by far the largest consumer of this resource. Irrigation currently accounts for 70 per cent of all water withdrawals world-wide. The status of the four of the world's greatest rivers, the Ganges, Yellow river, Nile and Colorado almost routinely dry up before reaching the ocean and water that normally would roll through the earth and feed aquifers runs off pavements and roof tops into sewers, eventually ending up with usually carrying pesticides and toxics in the ocean. Obviously, Pakistan is also the part of the world and unfortunately an underdeveloped country, facing the same problems of water shortage as the world is facing including developed countries. Developed and underdeveloped countries excluding Pakistan, continuously implementing their short term and long term water development policies to overcome these crises. But unfortunately, during the last 50 years we had built only two big reservoirs. Existing population of Pakistan is around 140 million and it is expected to rise to 208 million by 2025. This growth in population will significantly increase the demand for food and fibre while both land and water resources are declining day by day. Pakistan's food import bill is rising on account of population and output is declining as a result of reduced availability of water. The situation of the Indus and other rivers and our dams and reservoirs is deteriorating and their total storage capacity would reduce by an equivalent to Mangla dam. What did we do during the last 50 years for development of water resources? We only created serious confrontation amongst the provinces on water distribution and sharing. It is General Pervez Musharraf who has directed to reconstitute the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to resolve intra-provincial dispute and relocated its office from Lahore to Islamabad to make it a truly national body. What have other countries done during the last 50 years to resolve water crisis? They have built dams and reservoirs to overcome this crisis. China,had only 23 large and medium-sized reservoirs in 1949. During the next 50 years, it had developed 85,000 water reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 479.7 billion cubic meters among which 2,953 are big and medium sized dams with storage capacity of 417 billion cubic meters.Similarly India has built many reservoirs. Comparable ratios of Pakistan and India in thi regard is as follows: Pakistan -India ratios
Irrigated area by canals and tube wells 1:3
Large dams 1:62
Storage capacity 1:11
Hydro power 1:4
Canal diversion 1:4
In this situation, we should appreciate the vision of General Pervez Musharraf, on water resources development that Pakistan should build 5 to 6 big dams of 5 to 6 maf during the next 50 years. I would even suggest that as many small reservoirs as possible should be built at union council levels. These small resevoirs can be built in arid zones where occasional cloud bursts would provide sufficient water to be stored.