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Our mangrove forests, previously some of the largest in the world, have been reduced from 0.6 million acres to 0.25 million acres, said Simi Kamal and Jairath at the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation in Dhaka.The mix of sweet and sea water maintains a very critical balance in the coastlines.UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children in Pakistan die annually due to diarrhoeal diseases alone.

If that balance is destroyed, then the entire water system is affected and will, over time, be felt right up to the watersheds.

Pakistan is dependent on a single river system and we cannot afford to take any more chances with the water/sediment/salt balance of the Indus Basin.

Most parts of the country receive scant rainfall and have little or no access to surface water.

Pakistan Water Partnership (PWP) states that in Pakistan the total available surface water is about 153 million acre feet (MAF) and the total ground water reserves are approximately 24 MAF, of which a substantial part has been mined without allowing for natural recharge.

This means that about 68 MAF is potentially usable water if the canal system is adequately repaired and maintained.

Of the total sweet water availability of approximately 144 MAF, 97 percent is already used in agriculture.

This means, a discussion in terms of head, middle and tail farmlands in irrigated areas; and in terms of water for survival, subsistence and pastoral livelihoods in non-irrigated areas.

Rainfed and arid areas should also be a part of the debate on water equity and water use.

According to water specialist Simi Kamal, based on current projections, water availability (per capita) will be 855m3 by the year 2020.

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