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Clean Water9 min read

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Pakistan is Running Out of Water

Chasey Pittsley
Aug 31, 2023

 

It’s 1 a.m. in a neighborhood in urban Pakistan. Everyone should be asleep. Instead, the streets and homes are buzzing with activity. But these families don’t have a choice — their lives depend on staying awake.

Men and women wait in their doorways with stacks of mismatched and multicolored buckets. When the government water truck comes, they’ll work for over an hour, filling every one of those buckets to the brim.

It’s a miserable time — especially when the truck doesn’t arrive on schedule. Most of these people are already exhausted after a long day of work.

But this will be all the water they have to live on for the next two weeks. The pumps near their homes have long run dry, and they can’t afford to buy from the gangs selling stolen water at outrageous prices.

They’re not even sure if this water will last them all fourteen days. But it’ll have to. The alternative is too difficult to think about.

This is Pakistan’s unseen water crisis.

Pakistan’s Dry History

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Pakistan is experiencing the worst water shortage in the nation’s history

Unfortunately, water shortages are nothing new in Pakistan. As the population and economy have grown, so has the need for water. Yet, water availability has gone in the opposite direction: a steady decrease of over 80% in 70 years.

As a result, Pakistan is one of the most critically water-stressed countries in the world … and it’s only predicted to get worse.

Droughts and floods have ravaged Pakistan’s population for decades. But since the demand for water has increased along with the rate of natural disasters, Pakistan’s water shortage has become a nationwide crisis.

A Country in Crisis

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As time goes on, Pakistanis all over the country are finding it harder to get clean water

Currently, over 21 million people in Pakistan don’t have access to safe drinking water. That’s one in 10 people.

According to a UN report, “Only 36 percent of the country’s water was considered safe for consumption despite the country’s drinking water supply system covering 92 percent of the population.”

That means that most of Pakistan’s drinking water supply is considered unsafe. Yet, with most of the population reliant on this single source, they have no choice but to keep drinking it.

Devastating Floods

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Devastating floods have strained Pakistan’s already meager water supply 

The recent floods have only made a critical situation worse. In July 2022, monsoon floods plunged a third of Pakistan underwater, further deteriorating its water and sanitation conditions. Flooding might seem like it would help with a water shortage, but in reality, it further contaminates what’s already there.

Millions were left without proper sanitation services and safe drinking water. Currently, those living in cities can still gather water from water tank trucks — though it’s never enough.

People living in rural communities don’t even have access to this water supply. Instead, they’re forced to look for any other water they can find. Most of the time, it’s contaminated and carries disease-causing bacteria.

And with approximately half of Pakistan’s population under age 25, millions of children are especially at risk of contracting waterborne illnesses like cholera and dysentery.

No Water in the City

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Families must wait weeks at a time just to get clean water

The water situation in more populated areas isn’t much better. Many communities must wait two or more weeks to get water. Sometimes, the water that arrives is contaminated with salt and sewage, rendering it undrinkable.

To make matters worse, criminal gangs regularly steal water from the already meager supply and sell it on the black market to make a profit. This puts an additional strain on the worsening water crisis.

In other areas of the city, people gather daily at government offices, begging for and demanding water. Most of them go home empty-handed. Some end up wandering the streets searching for any water source — clean or not. To go completely without water would mean almost certain death.

A Suffering Economy

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Pakistan’s water crisis is also causing economic decline and unemployment

Pakistan’s water crisis isn’t only affecting the drinking water supply. It’s also severely impacting its economy — especially the agricultural sector. Farming uses over 90% of Pakistan’s water supply, so crops are suffering, especially with the recent floods.

Without enough food to feed the population, many people are facing both food and water insecurity. Food shortages have also caused prices to rise. In a nation where over one-third of the population lives in poverty, a lack of affordable food has only worsened the situation.

Plus, almost half of Pakistanis work in agriculture. Failing crops are putting many farmers’ and laborers’ livelihoods at stake.

The Outlook

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People in Pakistan are getting sick from dirty water

Pakistan’s water crisis isn’t getting any better. Instead, as the population grows and the demand for water increases, it’s only predicted to worsen.

Lack of water can be deadly in more ways than one. Family members — often women and children — must walk long distances to gather water. Because this usually takes so long, they can’t work full-time or attend school.

And most of the time, the water they can get is dangerously contaminated. Rivers, where animals drink and bathe, or standing pools of water, where bugs and bacteria thrive, present an overwhelming risk of diseases like cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. Sewage runoff is also a constant danger in many areas.

Pakistan’s water crisis also affects its hygiene and sanitation practices. Most homes have no running water or toilets. As a result, people must constantly combat sickness caused by unhygienic practices.

As humans, we need water to survive. But millions of Pakistanis risk their lives every day for water. Some don’t even have the chance to do that.

There just isn’t enough water to go around.

What You Can Do

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You can help provide clean water to those in Pakistan who need it most!

Pakistan’s water crisis is one of the most underreported crises in the world. But now, more than ever, they need us to remember them.

As always, the most important thing you can do is pray. Pray that God would heal Pakistan. Pray that water would become readily available to everyone. Pray that the economy and the people would recover from the floods. Pray that they wouldn’t have to risk their lives for the very thing they need to survive.

You can also give financially to help people in countries like Pakistan. People around the world need aid like clean water, food, medical supplies, and more. When you give where needed most, your gift will go to help those in the most urgent need. Plus, when you donate before Aug. 31, your gift will DOUBLE, thanks to a generous match.

You won’t just be helping save lives — you’ll also be an incredible reminder of God’s love and provision.

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