Water Crisis in Balochistan

Former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.”

The Balochistan Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Policy of 2006⁸ highlighted that inefficient water use, wastage of surface water and indiscriminate abstraction of groundwater resources coupled with water scarcity, have aggravated the water situation, thereby making management of water resources a complex and a difficult task in Balochistan.

The persistent drought during an extended period in recent years has resulted in negative impacts on the availability of water and livelihood of rural communities. Agriculture and livestock are the lifelines of the large majority of people as such water shortages in the province determine the productivity and incomes in the province.

Water Crisis in Balochistan

Population growth, urbanization, the mining sector and industrialization, are posing greater demands on water resources of the province. The expanding imbalance between supply and demand, has led to shortages and unhealthy competition amongst end-users, besides causing severe environmental degradation.

The declining water tables have led to an increase in extraction costs, reducing the flow of existing tubewells and in worst cases causing the failure of dug wells and tubewells.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once stated, “The children who have no clean water to drink, the women who fear for their safety, the young people who have no chance to receive a decent education have a right to better, and we have a responsibility to do better. All people have the right to safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter, and basic services.”

The climate of Balochistan has had a devastating impact on the region. Lack of water has resulted in arid lands and subsequently livestocks have perished, trees have dried up, agricultural work is badly affected, water-borne diseases have increased due to drinking of unsafe water, increased use of fertilizers has polluted water supplies and the people of the region are suffering from internal displacement.

In the words of Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Director-General of the World Health Organization, and Sergio Vieira de Mello, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “The right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water, and it must be enjoyed without discrimination and equally by women and men.”

Current Sources of Water in Balochistan

Surface Water: Storage reservoirs and lakes are the source of water in Balochistan.

Rivers: In Balochistan rivers are also the foundation of water supply, perennial rivers and non-perennial rivers.

Ponds or Lakes: ponds and lakes are also the source of water in Balochistan, during the rainy season the overflow water is collected.

Storage Reservoir: Manmade lakes designed by constructing dams across a river basin.

Infiltration Well: For tapping water from sandy river beds.

Ground Water: Hand pumps, tube wells and infiltration wells are the source of ground water.

Springs: Re-emerging to the underground water at the surface by infiltration or by pressure.

Wells: A simulated hole made into the ground for extraction of underground water.

Hand Pumps: Hand pumps are also a source of water in Balochistan.

Tube Wells: A tube well as the name implies is basically a tube or pipe bored into the underground pool, fitted with a filter at the lower end and worked at the top.