The World Water Day is being observed around the globe today. The world faces an existential threat in the form of scarcity of water, an element, which initiated life at the planet.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in its meeting in Brazil in 1992 declared March 22 as World Water Day, ARY News reports.
The day is celebrated to mark the implementation of the UN recommendations, to work out proposals and arrange activities to emphasize reduction in wasteful consumption of resources such as water.
The total amount of groundwater on earth, apparently small in volume, is 35 times greater than the volume of water in all the fresh water lakes and rivers of the world Whatever is available to mankind from lakes, rivers, aquifers (ground water) and rainfall run-off is under great pressure with demand for diverse human activities.
Experts warn that rising water insecurities can propel conflicts in the future if not conserved properly and utilised frugally. They also urged the need for proper conservation and management of water resources in the country.
In Pakistan access to clean water and sanitation have become major issues for a number of communities. Water variability is also high in the country, certain areas have higher availability of water resources while others continue to suffer from severe droughts. Recent drought in Tharparkar district in Sindh highlights the seriousness of the matter.
The experts have highlighted the need to ensure equitable water distribution across Pakistan. Water has become an increasingly scarce resource and as energy demand grows, conflicts over water will increase.
The water disputes between Pakistan and India over share of the river water highlight the importance of the matter and its potential to create a disasterous situation.
The experts pinpoint the issue of the climate change in the world. The was not given as much importance in the country and Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change has also been on the rise over the last few years, as evident by erratic movements in the frequency of rainfall.
With the recent focus on the suffering of the people of Tharparkar, a very important point is the crux of the problems of this region as well as many regions of Pakistan – the lack of access to clean water fit for human consumption.
The information on the website of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) confirms that the concentration of arsenic in groundwater of several districts of Punjab and Sindh provinces has been observed through different water quality studies. The natural presence of arsenic and other toxins in groundwater, the most common source of drinking water, is considered a worldwide public health crisis and an unprecedented natural disaster.
The underground water consumption in Pakistan is very common, and people usually use the water without proper testing.
The increased death toll in Tharparkar is the outcome of unavailability of water, and the water available being of bad quality.
The people of Thar use the water which is not fit for human consumption. The use results in different kinds of diseases include kidney failure, liver disease, bone formation, teeth decaying and skin diseases.
Per capita water availability in Pakistan has reduced from 5,650 cubic meter per person in 1951 to current 1,000 cubic meter per person, experts said. Sixty per cent of infant deaths are caused by waterborne infections, they added. According to USAID data around 250,000 children die each year in Pakistan because of waterborne diseases.
According to WHO reports, 25 to 30 per cent of hospital admissions in Pakistan are connected to waterborne and bacterial parasite diseases.
In Sindh alone, the people of Naro, district Khairpur, Achhro Thar of district Sanghar, Badin, Thatta, Jamshoro and Dadu also use underground water without prior testing.
The situation highlights growing challenges at the national and global level and highlight the need of a coherent strategy of Pakistan on the water front.