Climatic changes affect ages-old indigenous practice of utilizing rain water in arid areas of KP

PESHAWAR, Jun 26 (APP): Septuagenarian Kalam Bibi, a resident of an arid area Abdul Khel of Lakki Marwat, has spent whole life by continuing the inherited practice of storing rain water in ponds at home to fulfill water related needs of family, but abnormal reduction in precipitation due to climatic changes turned her primitive and economical source of water accumulation as redundant, causing sever mental stress to the elderly lady and her offspring.

“Water scarcity is not a new problem as we have become used to with utilization of limited amount of commodity for our household affairs, but acute shortage due to reduction in rain is creating serious problem for us,” says Kalam Bibi.

Lack of rain compelled family of Kalam Bibi to arrange water tankers for filling house tanks, a practice not only new for the elderly lady but also out of the afford of her family to pay for water accumulation.

Its out of our range to pay Rs. 2000 for each water tanker after ten days for filling tanks set up in basement and we are very much concerned as how our basic needs will be fulfilled with such a limited financial resources and sever rain shortage, Kalam Bibi shared her concern.

“This year there was no rain and majority of people in areas like Abdul Khel and its adjacent villages are compelled to arrange water through payment which is a sever burden on their pockets,” comments Shadi Khan, a senior journalist of Lakki Marwat.

Talking to APP, Shadi Khan informed that some well off families have opted for boring in their property to extract ground water, but majority of the people cannot afford to avail this option due to high cost.

Accumulation of rain water in ponds set up at basement of houses is a centuries old practice, fulfilling water needs of people naturally without putting financial burden on them, but sever reduction in precipitation has turned it as useless, Khan comments.

He also apprised that there are several water drinking schemes in the area installed by Public Health Department, but majority of them are faulty or almost non-functional due to long hours electricity outages.

In Southern districts including Lakki Marwat, majority of the areas are rain fed, totally depending on downpour for ground recharge and irrigation service, while around 20 to 30 percent areas are getting water through canal, Shadi Khan told APP.

During the last couple of years, record shortage of rain is observed in Southern region, badly affecting people and farming community of the area, he went on to say.

“Due to increase in extraction of ground water in wake of increase in population and heat wave, the water level in Lakki Marwat is dropping by ten feet on annual basis,” disclosed Xen Irrigation, Hafizullah Wazir.

Due to less rains in the area, water recharge is very low causing drop in water level by each passing year, he continued.

A mega project, Pezu Dam, launched in 2001 by then District Nazim, Hamayun Saifullah for better utilization of rain water was facing undue delay in completion due to lack of funds, Shahi Khan informed APP.

However recently, he continued, local politician and former Minister Health, Hisham Inamullah managed release of Rs. 850 million after which work resumed on Pezu dam and hopefully the situation will improve after its completion in near future.

“Realizing drastic impacts of climatic changes ensuing in changes in precipitation patterns and causing desertification, there is need for comprehensive measures to address water related changes which are getting aggravated by each year,” observed Syed Abu Bakkar, Communication Specialist International Water Management Institute (IWMI), an international, research for development organization working to solve water problems in developing countries.

Talking to APP, Abu Bakkar informed that IWMI is also working in water stressed Southern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially in D.I.Khan and Tank districts to educated people about climate mitigation measures for overcoming water shortage and better utilization of available natural sources.

According to IPPC report, Abul Bakkar continued, Pakistan is fast heading towards facing water scarcity and the deadline of year 2025 is very close to reach.

He also informed that IWMI has recently developed a state of the are artificial ground water recharge pilot site in Islamabad under its initiative of `Nature based solutions for improving resilience of ground water aquifer’.

There is dire need of creating awareness about importance of natural resources and its optimal utilization otherwise we will be faced with very serious problems for survival, Abu Bakkar opined.