Acute water shortage staring Pakistan in the face: Sherry Rehman

Published May 17, 2022
Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman addresses a press conference on Monday. —Photo Courtesy: Radio Pakistan
Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman addresses a press conference on Monday. —Photo Courtesy: Radio Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman on Monday said Pakistan was among three most water-stressed countries in the world and could become a water scarcity-hit country by 2025 if steps were not taken to conserve water and reduce impact of climate change.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting at the Prime Minister Office during which Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a task force to deal with climate change amid heatwave and melting of glaciers in the country, she warned that Pakistan could face acute shortage of water by 2025.

Calling for bringing changes to the lifestyle and behaviour of people and conserving water, Ms Rehman said Pakistan was the third most water-stressed country in the world and was among the 10 countries which were badly affected by climate change.

Flanked by National Disaster Management Auth­ority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz and Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change Jodat Ayaz, the minister said a number of steps were required to be taken to reduce the effect of climate change in the country.

Situation leads to setting up of task force on climate change

She said the current heatwave in the country was a result of climate change, adding that despite having large reserves of glaciers, Pakistan was at the risk of water scarcity, which was something very alarming. She said Pakistan was emitter of less than one per cent of global emission, but it was among the badly affected nations of the world, because of other countries.

The minister warned that in future more glaciers would be burst which was a matter of concerns, adding that the Indus, which was jugular vein of the country as major agriculture was dependent on this river, had been facing acute shortage of water, particularly after Kotri barrage downstream.

Ms Rehman called for coordination among all stakeholders, requesting the people to use water carefully and avoid its wastage. She said her ministry would set up a climate communication strategy for creating public awareness about climate change.

“Water, food security will be seriously impacted even if rains help with water levels. Pakistan is in the top ten countries vulnerable to Climate Stress. The [Climate] Council needs to actually meet & share as well as a task force for serious review of urgent priorities,” she tweeted after the meeting.

In reply to a question at the presser, the minster hinted that the government might not discontinue the Billion Tree Tsunami project launched by former prime minster Imran Khan.

She said there were two such projects — Billion Tree Tsunami and 10 Billion Tree Tsunami — and added that the former had been facing several question marks and inquires, including a probe by the National Accountability Bureau. The incumbent government would take steps for its transparency, she added.

The minister said that in 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, which was joint project of the federal and provincial governments, the performance of the Sindh government remained remarkable with 63 per cent achievement, followed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government with 56pc.

Task force on climate change

Earlier, chairing the meeting, PM Shehbaz Sharif set up a task force on climate change, headed by Sherry Rehman and comprising the relevant federal ministers, secretaries, chief secretaries, NDMA chairman and officers of other agencies.

The task force will develop a strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change and prevent incidents such as glacier outburst. It will take measures to prevent food and water shortages and conserve water and forest.

The PM, who was earlier briefed on water issue in Cholistan, ordered urgent supply of water in the area.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2022

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