According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn the authorities that the South Asian country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025.
Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region by the year 2040.
It is not the first time that development and research organizations have alerted Pakistani authorities about an impending crisis, which some analysts say poses a bigger threat to the country than terrorism.
The bulk of Pakistan’s farmland is irrigated through a canal system, but the IMF says in a report that canal water is vastly underpriced, recovering only a quarter of annual operating and maintenance costs. Meanwhile, agriculture, which consumes almost all annual available surface water, is largely untaxed.
Experts say that population growth and urbanization are the main reasons behind the crisis. The issue has also been exacerbated by climate change, poor water management and a lack of political will to deal with the crisis.