Virtual Water Export Virtually Dries Pakistan

Virtual Water Export Virtually Dries Pakistan

Pakistan is faced with increasingly limited access to water. The country is already categorized as “extremely highly-water-stressed country” by the Water Resources Institute because it withdraws nearly 80% of its available water supply each year. This unsustainable water use, coupled with predicted declines in water flows in the Indus river system, make for an uncertain and thirsty future for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s population of 150 million has a per person water footprint of 951 gallons (3,600 liters) per person per day, well below the United States’ 2,200  gallons per person per day. Pakistan exports 16 percent of their water as virtual water embedded in crops sent to other countries. Of the water remaining in the country that is available for use, 90 percent goes toward agriculture. The country’s three main crops – wheat, rice and cotton – are among the top five most water-intensive crops.

This author argues for out-of-the-box solutions to ensure that Pakistan is able to maintain a supply of clean water, and suggests the country may have to shift its focus from water-intensive crops and manufacturing in order to stop the export of virtual water. In addition, he strongly urges the government to develop and implement laws on groundwater extraction.

These are laudable goals that could be in the best interests of the United States as our resources become challenged as well.

[Daily Times]