We know from reports published last year, and the years before that, that Pakistan has gone from being ranked as a water abundant country till the early 1990s to being in danger of becoming one of the most water stressed nations on the globe by 2040. A report from the World Resources Institute released late last year suggests that due to depleting groundwater resources and increased demand for a commodity without which life cannot be sustained, Pakistan will over the next two and a half decades become the most water stressed country in the region. We already know that Pakistan stands at 10th place on the list of nations where the largest numbers of people are deprived of a supply of safe water. This year, as during previous years, the news is not pleasant. We have failed to give sufficient attention to the critical need for water and the question of why we have slipped from being a country with sufficient water to one where more and more must rely on contaminated water for drinking purposes. The cyclic water shortages in the Tharparkar area, which have led over the past three years to the death of at least 150 children, are just one indication of what the lack of water can do.
We already know from figures from UN agencies and other groups that 80 percent of all diseases in the country are due to the consumption of unsafe water, as are 40 percent of all deaths. This places an enormous burden on a healthcare system that is in the first place dysfunctional and fragile. Simply offering people access to safe water could relieve it greatly of its burden. But it is not just in the realm of help, or farming, that water matters. According to the Unesco 2016 World Water Development Report, around the world over 1.4 billion jobs are dependent on a supply of clean water and when this water is not available, unemployment and underemployment will rise, placing new strains on human lives. We have failed to safeguard what is our most precious resource. Its loss means that lives are increasingly at risk. Analysts have already been predicting that a lack of water could lead to regional wars in South Asia. This is not a prospect to look forward to. Nor is the idea of more continuing to die each year, or being rendered sick or jobless simply because they cannot obtain safe drinking water. Past promises to solve the problem have not been kept. We have to find a way to offer clean water to every single citizen in the country.