Pakistan’s contribution to the total global greenhouse gas emissions is among the lowest but it is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and has a very low technical and financial capacity to adapt to its adverse impacts. For Pakistan to continue on a development path to achieve its goals envisioned in the Planning Commission’s Vision 2030 document, it is imperative to prepare the ground that would enable it to face this new challenge. While Pakistan aims to work on a strategy that seeks to conserve energy, improve energy efficiency and optimize fuel mix for contributing to global efforts on GHG emissions reduction, the more immediate and pressing task before it is to prepare itself for adaptation to Climate Change. Only by devising and implementing appropriate adaptation measures will it be possible to ensure water, food and energy security for the country as well as to minimize the impact of natural disasters on human life, health and property.
Water resources are inextricably linked with climate; hence, the projected climate change has serious implications for Pakistan’s water resources. The freshwater resources, in Pakistan, are based on snow- and glacier-melt and monsoon rains, both being highly sensitive to climate change. The country specific current information strongly suggests the following future trends in Pakistan: decrease in glacier volume and snow cover leading to alterations in the seasonal flow pattern of IRS; increased annual flows for a few decades followed by decline in flows in subsequent years; increase in the formation and burst of glacial lakes; higher frequency and intensity of extreme climate events coupled with irregular monsoon rains causing frequent floods and droughts; and greater demand of water due to higher evapotranspiration rates at elevated temperatures.
These trends will have large impact on the spatial and temporal distribution of water resources on annual and inter-annual basis in the country. This will further exasperate the already difficult situation of a water stressed-country facing demand increases due to population growth and increasing economic activity. To address the impact of climate change on water resources and to help in enhancing water security, the Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with relevant entities shall take the following measures:
I Water Storage and Infrastructure
- a. Assess and address the needs for additional water storages and distribution infrastructure;
- b. Ensure early rehabilitation, remodeling and up gradation of the existing
Irrigation infrastructure in the country to make it resilient to climate change related extreme events;
- c. Identify new potential dam sites to keep the options open to develop new dams, as and when` needed;
- d. Develop necessary infrastructure to harness the hill torrents potential;
- Enforce measures to enhance the life of existing storages.
II Water Conservation Strategies
- a. Ensure water conservation, reduction in irrigation system losses and provide incentives for adaptation of more efficient irrigation techniques;
- b. Introduce local rain harvesting measures.
III Integrated Water Resource Management
- a. Ensure that, while making water allocations (within gross national availability) to various sectors in the medium- to long-term, due consideration is given to changes in sectorial demands caused by climate change;
- b. Protect groundwater through management and technical measures like
Regulatory frameworks, water licensing, slow action dams, artificial recharge especially for threatened aquifers, and adopt integrated water resources management concepts;
- c. Ensure rationale ground water exploitation by avoiding excessive pumping;
- d. Ensure recycling of wastewater through proper treatment and reuse it in agriculture, artificial wetlands and groundwater recharge etc;
- e. Protect and preserve water ‘catchment’ areas, and reservoirs against degradation, silting and irrigation system contamination;
- Encourage active participation of farmers in water management along with line departments by accelerating implementation of participatory irrigation management reforms;
- Ensure water distribution among provinces as far as possible according to crop sowing timings;
- h. Address sea water intrusion into Indus Deltaic Region by allocating required water flow downstream Kotri;
- Take appropriate measures to preserve the ecology of dry river reaches of
- Develop contingency plans for short term measures to adapt to water shortages that could help to mitigate drought;
- Explore the possibility of joint watershed management of trans-boundary catchment areas with neighboring countries;
- Ensure to safe guard Pakistan’s rights on trans-boundary water inflows according to international norms and conventions;
- m. Explore the possibility of entering into water treaty with Afghanistan;
- n. Promote integrated watershed management including ecological conservation practices in uphill watershed
IV Legislative Framework
- a. Legislate and enforce industrial and domestic waste management practices to protect environment, in particular water resources, from further degradation;
- b. Enact and enforce laws and regulations required for efficient water resource
Management and groundwater regulatory framework;
- c. Protect the HKH glaciers, which are considered the world’s water tower, by declaring them as ‘protected areas’ through agreements among countries sharing the Himalayan regio
V Enhancing Capacity
- a. Develop and extend technologies and techniques for sea water utilization, water recycling and avoiding wasteful use of domestic and drinking water;
- b. Ensure measurement and monitoring of irrigation water delivery at various points of the supply system for effective planning and management;
- c. Enhance national capacities in remote sensing and GIS techniques for monitoring temporal changes in glaciers and snow cover;
- d. Enhance national capacities for making seasonal hydro-meteorological forecasts, particularly for monsoon rainfall;
- e. Prepare a comprehensive inventory of all water resources, including surface and ground water, in order to support an efficient water management system in the country.
- Strengthen the present hydrological network to monitor river flows and flood warning systems.
VI Awareness Raising
Promote public awareness campaigns to underscore the importance of conservation and sustainable use of water resources.
Author: Ali Hassan Shabbir
MSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics, Institute of Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University of Agricultural Faisalabad, Pakistan.