Water crises

Lahore is in dire need of a fresh start.

The water crisis, which is Pakistan’s most urgent  issue, is being ignored while the country’s financial crisis is receiving a lot of media attention. The Indus Basin aquifer is the second-most overworked subsurface water reserve in the world, according to research. The stress on the groundwater is really unsettling. It is essential for  more than 60 percent of the nation’s irrigation, 70 percent of its drinking water supply,  and 100 percent of its industrial output.

In 2017, Pakistan ranked 8th lowest in the  world, generating US$1.4 per cubic meter of  water withdrawn. The Punjab province, which accounts for about 26 percent of the country’s total territory and 56 percent of its total population, has a population of 47.3 million.

Lahore is referred to as Pakistan’s “beating heart”  for a reason, it serves as the country’s cultural, political, economic, and social hub as well. Lahore has always been a crowded, inhabited city. The 46 KM river  stretch that begins at Syphon and ends at Mohlanwal  is intended to be channelised as part of a restoration  project for the city called Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA). Three barrages will be built, the first at  the old Ravi Bridge, the second near the M-2 Crossing,  and the third will be built near Mohlanwal at the lower  end of this 46 km channelisation length.

The goal of River Training and Channelisation is to  protect the River Ravi from floods that occur on average every 1000 years (ARI). Additionally, the channel  is meant to maintain the characteristics of a freshwater body of water and to have enough capacity to pass  the ARI flood.

These threats will further worsen the situation since  our nation currently ranks among the nations with the  lowest water supplies in the world. Over the coming decades, the expected loss in per capita access to surface  and groundwater sources will be primarily caused by  two factors: rapid population growth and urbanisation.

This concept of urbanisation is eventually lowering  the essence and spark of the city. Keeping in mind the  adverse effects of climate change, Lahore is in dire need  of a fresh start. Particularly worrisome is the possibility  that climate change will have an impact on water flows  within the whole Indus Basin.

UNESCAP predicts that Pakistan might see a drop of  more than nine percent in GDP per year because of climate change. Pakistan’s agricultural output has been  badly damaged by both extreme heat waves and unexpected rains. According to the Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change, Pakistan’s food security is in grave  danger because of the increasing frequency of such extreme weather situations.

So, Pakistan is facing a triple threat: climate change,  the loss of biodiversity, and food insecurity. A meaningful response must take all three of these into account. These problems are deeply connected, and if  we don’t solve them, the current food security crisis  will get even worse.

Floods, droughts, diseases, and other effects of climate will make it harder to grow food. Recent flooding in Pakistan shows this to be true once again. Even  less food will be available because people will have to  move because of the weather.

It’s also important to think about how farming affects the weather and natural ecosystems. Agriculture  uses 70 percent of the world’s water, 50 percent of the  land that people can live on, and is responsible for up  to 80 percent of the loss of biodiversity. Agriculture releases a lot of methane and nitrous oxide, which contributes a lot to global warming.

No progress can be made on food without first improving the climate and biodiversity. The scope of this  triple danger necessitates unprecedented collaboration between governments, businesses, and non-governmental organisations.

Trying to end this food crisis can’t be done without  thinking about climate change and biodiversity. Instead, it should be at the centre of a big change in how  the world’s food systems work as a whole.

Sana Eqbal

he writer is the Web Editor, The Nation

The writer is member of staff.