Sherry Rehman highlights importance of addressing Pakistan’s water crisis on World Water Day

Islamabad: Senator Sherry Rehman, Vice President of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on Friday highlighted the pressing water crisis in Pakistan on the occassion of World Water Day, urging citizens to reflect on how important water is to their very survival.

She said: “On World Water Day, it is time to reflect on how important water is to our very survival. In Pakistan, we pay little attention and just use it as an inexhaustible resource owed to us by this earth. But the truth is, it is not. Water is a finite resource and we need to understand and act on saving it in our daily lives. Water policy is left aside as theory, and conservation is for ‘others’ to do.”

She said that on the occasion, Pakistanis must recognize the vital need for sustainable water management to secure the country’s future. Pakistan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, and according to the United Nations, if timely measures are not taken, Pakistan will suffer from drought by 2025.

“Freshwater remains accessible within the system; however, Pakistan’s water consumption is utterly unsustainable. In a scenario characterized by high levels of warming and population growth, it is anticipated that water demand will surge by nearly 60% by the year 2047, particularly in the domestic and industrial domains,” she said.

At present, Rehman continued, Pakistan ranked among the top four countries globally in terms of per capita water consumption.
“As per data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan’s per capita annual water availability stood at 1017 cubic meters in 2017, nearing the critical scarcity threshold of 1000 cubic meters. In 2023, several urban regions experienced severe water shortages, exacerbated by the challenges surrounding informal water distribution practices. Pakistan’s water consumption is high by all standards, and both pollution and plastic dumping contribute to its quality.”

The Senator said that to address these challenges, provinces like Sindh need concrete policy frameworks and legal enforcement mechanisms for flood zoning, water conservation, and municipal management.
“Sindh has already initiated its water policy, but urban areas require comprehensive strategies that navigate the complexities of water governance amidst competing municipal and land-use agencies,”

The senator further said that significant investments in water infrastructure, sanitation, and health sectors were crucial for managing urban flooding, with potential international assistance in this regard.

“Wastewater treatment and desalination projects, though capital-intensive, can be explored through public-private partnerships, tailored to each region’s specific needs as outlined in the National Adaptation Plan, which includes diverse solutions including technology-based interventions for mountainous and delta regions facing water crises,” she said.