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Climate change poses real threat: study

July 20, 2012


KARACHI, July 20: A study conducted by the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) in collaboration with the World Bank has raised many concerns about climatic change in our region and its repercussions.

The experts, who carried out the study, warn that if Pakistan does not build dams while finding other ways to salvage the existing water resources, the rapidly increasing population will demand a quantum of water which will not be possible for the country to meet.

Giving his presentation, Farhan Sami, the country team leader of the World Bank’s water and sanitation programmes, spoke of growing consensus on the urgency of addressing the global water challenge. In his presentation supported by graphs, he said that global climatic change was not a myth but something that was actually happening. “So the Earth is heating up, the glaciers melting and water is being consumed by the growing population,” he said.

“With the scarcity of water, there is less food to grow and South Asia is the most vulnerable region of the world as its population is growing far too quickly and the glaciers in the Himalayas depleting very fast,” he said.

“For Pakistan, the bad news is that the River Indus is 30 to 40 per cent dependant on the Himalayan glaciers,” he added.

Climate change is also connected to several health sectors such as an increase in mosquitoes and bacteria. “There are also five hazards that have to be taken into consideration such as storms, floods, heat strokes, drought and wild fires and the most devastation in our country is mostly caused by floods,” he pointed out while getting to the solutions.

“There has to be one water lens, meaning harmony and one policy, regulation, financing, implementation and monitoring scheme to deal with these crises, which is not happening at the government level,” he said.

“Gathering the past 50 years’ data on temperature in Karachi, we have found that the temperature here has been increasing but the rainfall is consistent. So while the amount of water is the same, the heat is increasing,” he said.

“Looking at the 30 to 50 years’ scenario, we need a plan to get our general house in order. For this we have taken on board the KWSB to integrate the process of dealing with the expected problems and keep resolving them,” he said.

Ayub Sheikh, KWSB’s engineer and focal person of the study, followed up with his presentation. “We are faced with so many challenges such as population growth, changes in government, energy constraints, enforcement of law and order etc, and KWSB is constantly adapting and responding to these challenges but in an ad hoc manner. So we have to enhance the knowledge of KWSB staff in order to deal with all this.

“The methodology used will be to understand Karachi’s past, present and future climate and then building linkages with all stakeholders to design a risk framework process to deal with the threats to the environment like water shortage, growing food requirement, increasing population, etc,” he said.

The quality of water was also discussed. “The quality of water will be altered as time goes by like it will be mediocre in 2020, bad in 2030 and very bad in 2050,” said Mr Sheikh while also pointing out the other risks like lowering levels of water reservoirs such as Keenjhar Lake.

The solutions he suggested were establishing a climate change and water conservation cell while engaging all the stakeholders. Later, KWSB Managing Director Misbahuddin Farid shared his vision for the future and how they have to think ahead to save and improve their water distribution and handling of the sewerage system.

He said that the study was not done to be placed on a shelf. “The knowledge in this study is a master plan for the next 30 to 40 years and will be distributed for the betterment of the people.

The workshop was also attended by representatives of the Sindh meteorological department, National Institute of Oceanography, Suparco, environment department, NED University and the University of Karachi.