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#ZayaNaKaro: At least we’re realizing

This week, Twitter users from all across the country, flooded the platform with #ZayaNaKaro (Do Not Waste) tweets with sole objective of creating awareness among the masses about the scarcity of resources and motivating them to save food, water and electricity.

As Thomas Sowell, an American economist has rightly said that “The first lesson of economics is scarcity:

There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

Scarcity is a real phenomenon. You can’t ignore it. Enough amount of food is produced to feed the entire world population if we can control its wastage. According to the last year report of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 815 million people are undernourished in the world and the figure is skyrocketing every year.

A study has shown that 6 out of 10 people go to bed hungry everyday in Pakistan. On Global Hunger Index, out of 118 developing countries, Pakistan is ranked at 107.

It is estimated that 40% of food in Pakistan goes to rubbish bins instead of being consumed by the people.

According to a report published by UNICEF, nearly half of all children in Pakistan are chronically malnourished (stunted) while 11 per cent are acutely malnourished (wasted).

This situation contributes to high mortality and morbidity rates among children less than 5 years of age, undermining their mental and physical growth and leading to significant economic impact on the country’s development and prosperity.

In the province of Punjab, while stunting is declining, wasting is increasing in more than two-thirds of the districts at an alarming rate. This is a serious threat, and stunting could begin to increase in future.

There are more UPS’ in Pakistan than the total population of Balochistan! The average shortfall in power sector is 4000 MW and over 140 million Pakistanis either have no access to electricity or suffer more than 12 hours of load shedding.

About 60% of Pakistani households have power storage devices (UPS etc) which cause electricity wastage as they are inefficient as compare to the national grid. Immediate solution to this problem is conservation and efficient usage of electricity. Use of inefficient electrical appliances is one of the main causes of energy shortage.

Because of energy crisis, economic growth in Pakistan has been lowered by 2%. Pakistan has huge potential to generate electricity by renewable energy resources.

It is estimated that 120,000 megawatts of electricity can be generated by wind energy.

It is a responsibility of every Pakistani citizen to save electricity . Instead of using artificial lights during daytime , let the sun shine in . Using natural light can help us reducing the amount of electricity we consume daily .

Replacing old appliances with new energy efficient models and by using LEDs (A light-emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) instead of incandescent lamps can reduce the power wastage as well .

We take natural resources for granted without even considering the fact that they are scarce.

There is nothing like a free lunch and same applies to the natural resources. Just because now you have access to free drinkable water and that you may use it without even thinking of saving it, won’t preclude the working of this basic economic principle.

With no substitute at all, demand for water is perfectly inelastic. Absolute scarcity of it will cause its price to skyrocket.

Imagine going to the market to buy potable water for (suppose) Rs 500 per liter!

If you earn in millions then that won’t be an issue in short run but if you belong to a middle class or below middle class then get ready to die of thirst! With no water at all, how one can think of agricultural output.

Pakistan’s economy is predominantly agricultural in character. It engages 45 % of country’s labor force and contributes 21 % to the GDP. Ultimately, all we are going to get is millions of human casualties because of severe dehydration and malnutrition and crashed economy!

According to the experts, in last 58 years, Pakistan hasn’t built new dams. We can only store water for 30 days.

There are hundreds of millions of people across the globe with no access to potable water. According to World Wildlife Fund, 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to drinkable water.

Fresh water bodies are either drying up or getting polluted. International Monetary Fund has reported that Pakistan is the third most water stressed country in the world.

Most of the water is consumed and wasted by agricultural sector. Water used by it is largely untaxed, which makes it difficult for the government to recover the operational and maintenance cost of its supply. Improper and highly inefficient methods of irrigation are the main reason behind water shortage.

Farmers use more water than it is necessary to irrigate the fields. Agricultural sector is also responsible of water pollution.

Pesticides and Fertilizers that wash away from fields generate considerable water pollution which makes fresh water undrinkable. Pollutants leaching into ground water have affected its quality. Population growth is also one of the major causes of water scarcity. Open defecation and dumping of industrial waste in fresh water bodies also add to the pollution of water.

Every year Pakistan wastes Rs25 billion worth of water, as it only conserves 14 million acre feet out of 145 million acre feet that it receives annually. Country’s per capita water availability per year has been reduced by 80 %. According to PCRWR report, 69 % of water supplies do not meet the National Standards for Drinking Water Quality. In recent years we have seen public-private sector coalition to help farmers saving water.

A private firm in partnership with Punjab Agriculture Department through World Bank SMART program is encouraging farmers to apply drip irrigation on their fields. Drip irrigation allows water to drip slowly to the roots either from above or below the soil with the sole objective of minimizing water evaporation, as it places water directly to the root zone.

By the end of 2017, drip irrigation method has been used to water 68 acres of land and that ultimately helped the country saving 140 million liters of fresh water.

Not only drip irrigation method is being used for economizing water usage on agriculture but also methods like furrow irrigation and sprinkler based techniques, to water the fields, have been applied. Smart soil moisture sensors are also being developed that measure soil moisture and store regular data updates in a cloud server from where farmers can get information about the area of the field that has to be watered , thus helping them efficiently irrigating the land .

Wasting natural resources is a curse. Before wasting food , electricity and water , we should think of those underprivileged people who spend six to nine hours walking every day just to find water and those who go to bed hungry and about those who still spend nights in darkness and about those children of Thar who have died because of malnutrition and those who collect food from garbage!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.