Despite suffering from massive floods, Pakistan is expected to experience a massive water shortage—somewhere between 27-35 percent—during the Kharif season. This has prompted the authorities to devise a water management mechanism for the distribution of the resource across all four provinces. Each government already harbours resentment about water allocation, and this new distribution system is likely to stir up further controversy. But the fact of the matter remains, the federal authorities need a more proactive and detailed approach to dealing with the water crisis because otherwise, we will continue to be trapped in a cycle of extremes, intermediating between floods and droughts.
The floods devastated major districts of Pakistan but with this destruction, there was hope that some good may also come out of the ordeal. Experts suggested that flooding could replenish the water table, provide water for irrigation, and could be used for daily use after being purified. These are possibilities that could be the answer to Pakistan’s water woes but they demand decisive government action and planning. Unfortunately, our leaders have not proven to be up to the mark as the country is expected to suffer from a major drought in the upcoming Kharif season that begins from April. 27 to 35 percent of the country’s land is expected to be deprived of water, causing immense hardships for the masses and proving to be detrimental to economic development.
In response, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has created a three-tier water management through which each province will be given a share of the resource in accordance to their needs but this is bound to create some conflict. PML-N in Punjab and PPP in Sindh are already engaged in a heated debate about water allocation. In the midst of this, less populated areas like KP and Balochistan have been left completely neglected as well. The three-tier system is bound to cause more grievances as its distribution mechanism will undoubtedly prioritise one over the other. But more than that, Irsa’s technical committee itself is rather confused about how to deal with this incoming crisis. Due to a lack of data, a policy could not be finalised; system losses cannot be calculated and federating units have a rather lax approach to data collection. Without this information, we cannot devise a fair policy to implement.