Perhaps this is our only chance!
Can we survive without water? If so, how long? How do people in conflict zones or with the poorest of infrastructures get about with limited access to water that many of us in the cities cannot even imagine of?
Today, we don’t have to think of these questions, life moves at a lightning speed and all we care aboutis our own future. However, when you come home after a long day of work and find out that there is actually no water, to shower, to cook or to drink, one does set aside the future goals and starts to contemplate over the petrifying present.
For a moment it doesn’t sink in because we, privileged as we are, always have water at home, how can we not have something which is a basic human need? This might not be the case anymore.
I experienced it first hand when I had to wait for almost two hours for the tanker to arrive and fulfil our water need. This was the first time it was happening to me but millions in Pakistan suffer from it every day, the only difference is that now every one of us is at equal risk.
It isn’t just Thatta, Sibi or Gawadar, it is happening in Islamabad, in Lahore and in Karachi. The metropolitan hubs are being hit by the crisis and it is getting severe.
Pakistan’s burgeoning population has put immense pressure on the country’s water resources. According to IMF, Pakistan is the third most water stressed country in the world.
Data from UNDP’s latest report indicates that more than 27 Million do not have access to safe water with the per capita availability declining from 2172 to 1306 cubic metres. Resources are depleting fast while capacity building is zero.
The silver lining is that people have started realizing their responsibility and not just individuals but corporates are also stepping forward to help mitigate the issue. Businesses are now assessing their water footprint which will help them gauge their own water consumption and devise ways to reduce the usage of water throughout their supply chain.
One example is of a soft drink maker whose water stewardship initiatives have helped them save 2.74 billion Litres of water through community and watershed projects in 2018. The company successfully introduced water management systems in some of the most water scarce areas in Sindh and KPK enabling the community to efficiently use the depleting resource. They introduced technological innovations to smartly deal with the issue, solar powered water filtration plants in KPK & Sindh work on renewable energy source and utilize reverse osmosis mechanism to ensure efficient use of decontaminated water.
Projects such as these have changed over 300,000 lives so far across Pakistan, making accessibility of water less of a hassle.
This clearly reflects that a solution does exist, we might not be able to immediately build dams or plant a billion trees but at least through intelligent use of technology we can start moving in a direction. The steps taken by this soft drink giant can be a guiding light for many other businesses that are still not sure where to start from.
Moreover, they have also invested in Green Field facilities in Multan and Faisalabad which and energy efficient facilities. In the last 5 years, the soft drink giant’s operations have been successful in achieving almost 30% water efficiency across the supply chain.
What we must not forget is that our dependence on water is significantly higher than other countries because we are predominantly an agriculture based country with more than 62% of our rural population depending on it for a living. From individuals to conglomerates, everyone is at risk because the water crisis will hit everybody in some form or other.
Whether it is a housewife, an average farmer or the owner of a huge business empire, this is one threat that will probably leave no one untouched therefore it is not just the government’s headache rather each individual’s worry.
The problem is that we take too long to realize, we might see the beast in front of us but avert our gaze. This might not be possible in the future thus the action needs to be taken today. Integrated efforts need to be made by the government, civil society and corporate sectors to eradicate the issue and forge a sustainable future.
Perhaps this is our only chance!