Drought and desertification in Pakistan



The coming drought

By Raashid Wali Janjua

Pakistan is currently beset with a clear and present danger – the desertification of its agricultural heartland along with a concomitant drought that would parch the burgeoning population of one of the fastest growing populations on the planet. The looming crisis is partially of our own making and partially a result of climate change.

One would hardly find a population so steadfastly adhering to the ‘lemming code’ of self-immolation through a sedulous rejection of measures to mitigate the coming calamity. The desertification of its fertile soil and the water shortage forecast a tragedy that can only be averted through a water management emergency in the country. But for that to happen, the somnambulism of policymakers has to be jolted out of its inaction through some cold and harrowing facts.

Pakistan has 21.29 million hectares of arable land which would shrink to 14 million hectares if the water flow from the eastern rivers and their irrigation canals gets reduced even by a margin of 30 percent. Through unbridled pumping out of sub-surface waters the aquifers stand in mortal danger of depletion while the water logging threatens the fertility of soil due to unregulated and wasteful irrigation practices.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.