Many Pakistanis using 10 times more water than world average

1The per capita storage capacity in the United States stands at 6,150 cubic meters, in Australia 5,000 cubic meters, but in Pakistan it is just 132 cubic meters that show how vulnerable 180 million Pakistanis are in terms of water availability.
About 20.3 million acres of land remain idle and need to be irrigated, which can only be done if Pakistan has the capacity to regulate the water released by building more reservoirs.
It may come as a shock, however, that many Pakistanis are using at least 10 times more water than the world’s average, and at no price. In fact, this is happening due to the absence of price, and hence that of market. When you provide water for free, there is no incentive for conservation.
For instance, looking at Faisalabad alone can reveal the need to conserve, the city is dependent on piped water supply from nearby Chiniot. Its own water reserves are brackish and undrinkable.
The city residents, connected through the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa), receive around 100 million gallons every day, but they receive it almost free. Through Wasa, the water reaches around 100,000 households, or around 900,000 people. This makes an average use of 100 gallons per person per day. The world’s average is 10 gallons per day.
The collection of Wasa remains abysmally low, and it is always dependent on provincial government’s subsidy.
Owing to the absence of appropriate water user charges, citizens use too much water, the supply agency remains poor, and ultimately there are no funds for maintenance of infrastructure. Absence of market in water will ultimately erode the ‘product’.
Local feuds
There are bigger and tougher challenges around water. In large parts of Sindh and other provinces, water is a major reason for local feuds. Most recently, “water theft” rendering 15,000 acres of land barren has been reported in Badin. Feudal lords have been blamed for “stealing” water into their farms and denying water at tail-ends in connivance with government officials.
However, the allegation of theft implies presence of private property. Water is not a private property there. The government has just designed an inefficient distribution system against some nominal and flat charges. If these waters can be redefined as a market, under the control of a community-led mechanism, we will achieve a welfare enhancing solution.
Water has to be priced, and each farmer using water as an input to his crops should pay.
Redefinition of water as private property will not only address the issue of conservation, as users will rationalise their use, but will also offer equity. Commercial factors instead of political factors will decide who gets how much water.Many Pakistanis using 10 times more water than world average
By Ali SalmanPublished: March 8, 2015
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Many Pakistanis using 10 times more water than world average. CREATIVE COMMONS
ISLAMABAD:
It has become commonplace to say that next wars will be for water. Pakistan is already a water-stressed country, with around 1,038 cubic meters per capita water availability, a drop from 5,000 cubic meters in 1951.
The per capita storage capacity in the United States stands at 6,150 cubic meters, in Australia 5,000 cubic meters, but in Pakistan it is just 132 cubic meters that show how vulnerable 180 million Pakistanis are in terms of water availability.
About 20.3 million acres of land remain idle and need to be irrigated, which can only be done if Pakistan has the capacity to regulate the water released by building more reservoirs.
It may come as a shock, however, that many Pakistanis are using at least 10 times more water than the world’s average, and at no price. In fact, this is happening due to the absence of price, and hence that of market. When you provide water for free, there is no incentive for conservation.
For instance, looking at Faisalabad alone can reveal the need to conserve, the city is dependent on piped water supply from nearby Chiniot. Its own water reserves are brackish and undrinkable.
The city residents, connected through the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa), receive around 100 million gallons every day, but they receive it almost free. Through Wasa, the water reaches around 100,000 households, or around 900,000 people. This makes an average use of 100 gallons per person per day. The world’s average is 10 gallons per day.
The collection of Wasa remains abysmally low, and it is always dependent on provincial government’s subsidy.
Owing to the absence of appropriate water user charges, citizens use too much water, the supply agency remains poor, and ultimately there are no funds for maintenance of infrastructure. Absence of market in water will ultimately erode the ‘product’.
Local feuds
There are bigger and tougher challenges around water. In large parts of Sindh and other provinces, water is a major reason for local feuds. Most recently, “water theft” rendering 15,000 acres of land barren has been reported in Badin. Feudal lords have been blamed for “stealing” water into their farms and denying water at tail-ends in connivance with government officials.
However, the allegation of theft implies presence of private property. Water is not a private property there. The government has just designed an inefficient distribution system against some nominal and flat charges. If these waters can be redefined as a market, under the control of a community-led mechanism, we will achieve a welfare enhancing solution.
Water has to be priced, and each farmer using water as an input to his crops should pay.
Redefinition of water as private property will not only address the issue of conservation, as users will rationalise their use, but will also offer equity. Commercial factors instead of political factors will decide who gets how much water.

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