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Pakistan and Its Water

World Bank proposes key reforms to improve water security and productivity

Tuesday 5 February 2019, by Nazar TAMASHEVSKA

ISLAMABAD (World Bank press service) — Pakistan can get more economic, social and environmental benefits from its water, subject to urgent reforms to improve water use efficiency and service delivery, says a new report from the World Bank.

The report, Pakistan: Getting More from Water, states that while Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, is well-endowed with water, water availability per person is comparatively low. Water wastage is high and agricultural yields are low compared to most countries.

Pakistan: Getting More from Water (PDF)
(Clck to download)

This report builds on prior work to provide a new, comprehensive, and balanced view of water security in Pakistan, stressing the importance of the diverse social, environmental, and economic outcomes from water. The report highlights the complex water issues that Pakistan must tackle to improve water security and sheds new light on conventional assumptions around water. It seeks to elevate water security as an issue critical for national development.

The report assesses current water security and identifies important water-related challenges that may hinder progress in economic and human development. It identifies unmitigated water-related risks, as well as opportunities where water can contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction.

The report analyzes how the performance and architecture of the water sector are related to broader economic, social, and environmental outcomes. It models alternative economic trajectories to identify where intervention can lead to a more water-secure future.

A consideration of water sector architecture and performance and how these determine outcome leads to recommendations for improving aspects of sector performance and adjusting sector architecture for better outcomes. The sector performance analysis considers (a) management of the water resource, (b) delivery of water services, and (c) mitigation of water-related risks. The description of sector architecture considers water governance, infrastructure, and financing.

River System

Oblique Aerial View of the Upper Indus Basin
(Click to enlarge)

Current water availability varies between the provinces because of differences in the natural hydrology and extent of the provinces, and because of the water sharing arrangements enshrined in the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord. The Accord sharing largely reflects historical patterns of use. The groundwater resource is solely direct rainfall recharge; river outflows are not allocated to any province but are reflected in the total resource estimate. The distribution across the provinces of internally generated water (runoff and recharge) is uncertain but is estimated according to climatic and hydrologic conditions.

Water availability varies through time, largely driven by the temporal patterns in inflows. For users (including the environment) lower in the Indus Basin, flow variability also reflects the temporal patterns in withdrawals, consumption, and losses. These vary seasonally, especially given seasonal temperature cycles that drive water demand. The temporal pattern in Indus Basin inflows reflects the dominant inflow sources in the major tributaries.

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