Wednesday, August 01, 2012

South Asia's Water Woes

The twin cities of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, and Rawlapindi are facing the prospect of running out of water.   Both cities rely on  the Khanpur Dam as their main source of water.   An extended heat wave and drought has left the Khanpur reservoir with just a 15-day supply remaining.   The Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area has a population of 4.5-million.  Protests are already breaking out in the capital.

Neighbouring India has a building water crisis of its own.   A weak and sporadic monsoon has left reservoirs dangerously low and, like Pakistan, threatens winter crops and drinking water.

"The situation is precarious because the monsoon has delivered normal rainfall to only one-third of the country. The total deficit so far this season is 22%, but rainfall has been 40% below average in key crop-growing areas in the north and northwest. India's 84 important reservoirs are filled only to 19% capacity, which is 41% lower than last year."


Anonymous said...

This story is extremely scary to me and gets no media coverage. Two nuclear powers with a recent history of a poor and violent relationship depending on melt from the Himalayas for their very survival. I could see this getting very ugly, very soon.

The Mound of Sound said...

You're quite right, Peter. I deliberately avoided getting into the headwaters problem in this post but I have written about it a few times before. And let's not forget who else maintains a claim to Arunanchal Pradesh, China.

Water shortages could be a powerfully destabilizing force, especially in Pakistan which always seems to endure some degree of instability.