If we have learned anything from the unfortunate events of this year, it is that water, whether it be a shortage or an abundance, can be a source of disaster for Pakistan. Earlier in the year, disputes started between the provinces over allocation, with Sindh, perhaps the worst-off from the heatwave, expressing complaints that it was not receiving its due share. The subsequent monsoon floods proved all too well the dangers of climate change and how important it is to properly regulate water flows.
Fortunately, it appears that the Indus River System Authority (Irsa), the body responsible for regulating and monitoring the distribution of water sources among the Provinces, has attained an automated system to determine water shares among the provinces, water availability forecasting, systems losses, and gains. It is reported that IRSA will switch over from a manual system to an automated one from the coming Rabi season. The software is said to be more transparent in allowing the water regulator, PIDs, and Wapda to have their seasonal water planning as it follows more scientific trends of a repeatable process, and provides transparency and consistency in seasonal water allocation.
The digitisation of water disbursal is certainly ambitious and needs to be expanded with a lot of funds. Yet it is a necessary step. The water crisis in Pakistan should not be underestimated—according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan is the third most affected country in terms of water scarcity. A lot of the issues between the provinces stem from the interpretation of the interprovincial Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) of 1991 and its operational plan, or rather lack of one. In these respects, more transparency in water disbursal mechanisms is a must. Having more digital and efficient methodologies to estimate the need for water for the provinces would make it easier to get provincial approval for the sharing of water, and the data collected through such scientific methods can be used to perfect the system.