With just a few weeks left for the world leaders to come together for climate justice in Glasgow, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has further stressed the need to actively work towards saving the planet. In its latest report titled ‘The State of Climate Services 2021: Water’ published, urgency to deal with the looming threat of water crisis has been reemphasized. According to the report, ‘more than five billion people could have difficulty accessing water in 2050’. It was also noted that in 2018, 3.6 billion people had inadequate access to water for at least one month per year. These are staggering numbers and must raise alarm bells. The level of water stored on land has already been dropping at the rate of one centimetre per year since the past 20 years.
Countries already hit by civil unrest and war, such as, Syria are struggling to cope with water crisis that endanger human survival. It was recently reported that Syria has 40 per cent less drinking water for its entire population. In July, Lebanon declared a water emergency as a Unicef report highlighted that the country was about to run out of water. “Unless urgent action is taken, more than four million people across Lebanon – predominantly vulnerable children and families – face the prospect of critical water shortages or being completely cut off from safe water supply in the coming days.”
Shortage in land water owing to climate change is posing a threat to the entire world. The WMO report has mentioned that ‘only 0.5 per cent of water on Earth is useable’. At home, Pakistan with its already depleting water reservoirs will be hit hard if the situation persists. It was only last month that the National Assembly was apprised of the fact that most urban centres in the country had unsafe underground water. In fact, on Tuesday the Advisory Committee of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) projected 28% water shortfall for Punjab and Sindh during Rabi season 2021-22. This would directly impact the crop production, leading to a shortage in wheat and lentils.
Population growth and adverse effects of climate change with prolonged months of flood drought have led to such a volatile situation. The international community must rise to the situation and push towards an end to greenhouse gases. As for Pakistan, water is paramount for socio-economic development. Thus, water conservation methods and construction of more dams can help the country from its acute water crisis.