Non traditional Regional Security Architecture for South Asia funded by John D and Catherine T. Mc Arthur examines opportunities for cooperation on shared non traditional security concerns as potential building blocks toward developing a viable regional security architecture for South Asia. In this projects first phase (2009-10) critical challenges faced by Pakistan which include climate change, increasing population and urbanization, food and water security problems. Much work in recent past has been done in Pakistan to counter terrorism and other political challenges, both internally and externally but in near future non traditional security challenges would have to be countered on urgent basis. In this study the communities most adversely affected by climate change and increasing water and food insecurity are those” segments of society that are at or below the poverty line”.Coupled with burgeoning population growth and a significant youth bulge, Pakistan’s looming non traditional security challenges offer a potential recipe for disaster by aggravating the country’s exisiting traditional security challenges.
The non traditional security challenges particularly the impact of climate change on South Asia’s food and water security scenarios, provide countries with critical impetus and hopefully opportunities to collaborate on addressing these challenges.As these threats are being faced by this region as a whole, it will require cooperation to find a regional solution. Climate change is negatively affecting human activities with an increase number of people killed, injured or made homelss. Also sudden population increase are creating problems which need to be addressed in a serious manner to control it in time. Water Security has increased to unprecedented levels in our region which needs urgent solutions which affects almost everyday routine activities.
Following are the non traditional security challenges faced by Pakistan.
a. Climate Change. This challenge is being faced world wide particulary our region is more prone and being affected. It has caused suddent increase in temperatures in summers, decrease in winters andhas changes span of different seasons. Pakistan being an agricultural country,mostly dependent on crops and farms lands is suffering from the adverse affects of climate change resulting in less yield of crops, economic ecline, less earning for farmers in the recent past. Pakistan due this problem has also been forced to import wheat and other food items despite being an agricultural country.This has also resulted in many diseases/illnesses due to sudden varied climate making overal health hazards/problems in our society. Storms and cyclones are now increasing in frequency. An analysis of data for the past 60 years, taken from the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) shows that the number of natural disasters per decade has increased considerably over the last two decades. This incidentally is the period during which average global temperatures have been highest. This factor is largely attributred to changes in the environmental conditions, such as deorestation, population growth and a greater concentration of people living in hish risk areas.
b. Increase in Population. Pakistan being an 8th populous country in the world and now adversely affected by the non traditional threats needs population control on urgent basis. Population increase and high growth rates adversely affect all aspects of society, the economy and the environment. It has endagered basic civic amenities, leading to a lack of clean water and space for housing and ultimately burdening our society. Pakistan has a large population and a high growth rate that further contributes to high density and rapid urbanization. The population in Pakistan has grown by 350 percent since independence in 1947, and it is estimated that Pakistan will be the second largest contributor to global population growth after China, with a contribution of 133 million people by 2025. The most serious concern is the fact that most growth occurs in the segments of society that are at or below the poverty line. The diminished capacity of local ecosystems restricts the availability of natural resources, alters the patterns of people’s livelihoods and reduces the ability of Pakistanis to cope with other Non traditional security threats. Also Pakistan is the most urbanized country in the South Asia, with its cities expanding at a faster rate than the overall population. The “National Disaster Management Framework for Pakistan” estimates that wheras the overall population increased by only four times from 1951 to 1998, the urban population rose by seven times during the same period.
c. Water Security. Water security is the most serious challenge for Pakistan due to several factors, particularly the increasing pressure of population growth and urbanization, massive expansion of tube-well irrigation, reduced levels of precipitation caused by climate change and accelerated retreat of Himalayan glaciers. Pakistan has rapidly transitioned from a water surplus country to one of the most water scarce countrises in South Asia. Per capita water availability plunged from 5300 to 1100 cubic meters per annum over little more than five decades. Several factors have compounded Pakistan ‘s water security challenges, particularly the increasing pressures of population and urbanization, the massive expansion of tube well irrigation has resulted in severe ground water depletion, water logging, salinity and the adverse climate change. Pakistan’s dependence on a single river system is another important threat to its water security.
d. Food Security. A house is considered food secure when its occupants do not live in hurger or fear of starvation. The numbers for Pakistan are dismal in this regard. Projections for the year 2030 begin with the alarming increase in Pakistan’s population growth from 170 million to 220 million. Such a rise will boost urbanization, further changing the ratio of urban to rural population from 35/65 to 51/49. Pakistan’s present as well as future food security or vulnerability status will hinge on a number of factors such as declining food productivity and income from traditional crops, a high dependence on imported food and growing increase in poverty from 22 percent to 27 percent.
Pakistan, as well as South Asia as a whole, has numerous Non traditional threats challenges with respect to climate change, population growth and urbanization, food and water security. South Asian countries have not yet found effective mechanisms to start addressing these issues. If the region remains unwilling or unable to adopt ecosystem wide approaches that incorporate transboundary strategies, progress will remain slow.
Pakistan’s exponential population growth and rapid urbanization have a strong ecological footprint, testing the limits of the eosysmtem and the services it can provide, given present rates of use and extraction. As the regenerative capacities of these ecosystems diminish, poverty and the associated vulnerability to climate change related diasters are enforced. These challenges will, however become far more serious if immediate attention is not paid to managing water resources. As Pakistan becomes a water scarce country in the coming decades, effective management will be the key to keeping the ecosystems alive.
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