#SaveWater or Pakistan will run out of water by 2025. As scary, as it sounds and equally complicated. I do not know where to begin; to put it in simple words Pakistan is facing acute shortage of water, we all know that still we pay no heed to it. For every drop we waste today, our generations will bear the consequences tomorrow. If we do not use water wisely today, will not be able to do anything about it tomorrow but regret, simple.
It is very easy to play the victim card and blame the Government for everything that’s going wrong. Being a citizen, we are equally responsible. Statistically, Pakistan ranked third in water shortage; only 30% population has access to clean drinking water.
If, God forbid this situation persists we will be left with no water by year 2025. This is actually as scary as it sounds.
What makes this situation even worse is our insensitivity towards the matter. Neither we build up new water reservoirs nor we utilize available water efficiently, rather waste it. Apart from worldly affairs, our religion teaches to utilize water efficiently and prohibit wastage of water.
Don’t waste water even if you’re by a running stream – Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.W.)
What does water scarcity mean?
Water scarcity means unavailability of sufficient water for consumption. Globally, 2.8 billion people suffer from water scarcity and 1.2 billion do not have access to clean drinking water. Water scarcity is the epicenter of a thousand problems that are associated with it. Our life depends on water; no water no life, simple equation. This paper on water storage and trees states
“Water is an essential resource the availability of which underpins poverty reduction, social and economic development and environmental sustainability, and is thus key to realizing livelihood opportunities”.
Following are few consequences of water scarcity to give a basic idea:
- Unavailability of fresh drinking water
- No / limited water available to nourish ourselves, our families, our society & future generations
- Contaminated water for usage which is a constant health hazard
- Apart from humans, contaminated water is also hazardous to marine life & agriculture
- Unavailability of water for irrigation
- Unable to irrigate, hence no crops no agriculture
- Lack of water causing agriculture lands to go barren
- On one hand our economy majorly depends on agriculture and on other, no agriculture means scarcity of food as well
- Unavailability of water for household & industrial consumption
- Most of our household chores involve water usage, absence of water means
- Apart from household, water is main component across industries, water shortage means shutting down of industries as well
Two root causes of this whole problem are:
- We do not have any mechanism of saving available water
- We use available water irresponsibly, hence wastage
Studies revealed the little water we have today contaminated with harmful metals like Copper, Nickel and Cobalt etc. Which are the root causes of spread of Hepatitis in the people of Pakistan, especially in those living in big cities. We do not have any mechanism of saving water or even industrial / household waste. Therefore, we dump waste in rivers resulting in contamination of water and excessive pumping of underground water causing scarcity at alarming a rate.
Here are pictorial representations of how we waste water in performing daily chores:
Need to realize and educate that we do not have unlimited water available. If we do not use it efficiently soon we will left with nothing. We have already done the same to natural gas. We used to have ample reserves, we utilized irresponsibly & without proper planning and now it has come down to gas load management during winters.
How to Counter It
Now that we know the problem, question arises how to counter it? I personally think, if not a whirlpool we can at least create ripples in our individual capacities at our respective levels, ripples make all the difference. Following are few initiatives we can take to counter this situation.
Question arise how to create awareness about water shortage and why? Water shortage is an emergency. We need to spread the word as we did during dengue epidemic etc. so people know and recognize it as a serious problem. Spreading the word is first step. Once people realize and start discussing it the next step is how to deal with it? As individual, best we can do is stop wasting water personally and teach & preach. Educate peers, relatives, community members. Encourage others to efficiently use water and stop wastage. Moving forward, arrange public awareness sessions, run informative documentaries, create animation series for children, TV programs, talk shows. Pressure groups to make efforts for governments to start building dams and water reservoirs do necessary legislation to stop water wastage and dumping of trash in rivers and streams.
Recognizing the problem is always the first step towards resolution as it shows the intent to counter the problem.
Although reservoir building is government job. As individuals we can contribute to this rather pave the way. Unfortunately, Pakistan is politically active country in a bad way so we politicize everything good or bad. For example Kalabagh Dam. We can campaign in favor of it, create awareness how & why it is necessary for our survival, mobilize public, create pressure groups, and bring those against it on table to discuss. True picture and critical nature of dams demonstrated in such a way that commoners understand and relate to it, can serve as lay stones for a public movement. Just that it has to be apolitical.
Not only Kalabagh Dam we require many small & medium dams as well to cater different areas and needs. Alongside dams, small reservoirs to conserve rainwater for drinking and irrigation purpose are equally critical & important.
Governments role aside, we can build small reservoirs at community level to store water for local consumption & conservation. Building dams takes years and require lot of capital, we will have to pay taxes and mobilize private sector as well to fund these projects. Government alone cannot succeed; community must endorse.
Stop Wasting Water (Use water wisely)
Seems easy but most critical part because it requires collective intent & action. We waste so much water routinely. Especially we blessed ones who do not have to fetch water buckets from far away every morning. We open shower and spend 30 mins wondering about life and water gets wasted all this time same for brushing teeth even making ablution, Washing clothes, in kitchen and everywhere else.
Start from ourselves. Stop wasting water, simple. Keep in mind for every drop we waste not only us our future generations as well bear the consequences. Once you start utilizing water efficiently educated others subtly and encourage them to do the same. Tell them why it is necessary specially kids and house cleaners.
Only if we stop wasting water things will start improving automatically. With shrinking usage, our existing reservoirs will not run out of quantities so rapidly and we will have enough time to build up more reservoirs. Teach your kids to use water efficiently while doing daily chores like brushing teeth taking showers etc. Educate them water is scarce and we might run out of it if we use it irresponsibly.
Plant more trees
Since childhood, we learn about importance of trees and their contribution to society. Trees literally do magic. From providing oxygen to climate control to keeping land from erosion to safeguarding water channels underneath the land. Trees help bringing rain through transpiration process (Google that). Most recently, we have encountered heatwave in many cities of Pakistan lack of greenery / forests / trees is one of the root cause. Cutting thousands of trees in the name of development to pave way for roads, malls and concrete structures causing damage to the ecosystem and disturbing the natural habitats that do multiple services one being water storage. Trees ensure, support and nurture biodiversity, prevent soil erosion and maintenance of land fertility.
Off topic but humans, require about 9.5 tons of air for breathing in a year, 23% oxygen in the air makes about 740 kg of oxygen per year. One tree on average produces 100 kg oxygen per year so roughly every person require seven or eight trees to breath properly and on the contrary Pakistan has averagely 5 trees per person (1131 trees / sq. km) and the distribution is greatly uneven.
Pledge for the Cause
Last but not the least, pledge for the cause. An individual cannot do all things pick any one out of the above mentioned and make sincere efforts. If all units of society start working on different aspects, the circle will eventually complete and final goal will be easily achieved, which in our case is saving water for ourselves, our generations for a prosperous today and tomorrow.
Make a chart or dairy or journal to record and monitor water usage to track progress, share with others, encourage them, make support groups, spread the word, repeat. Idea is to use water wisely.