Hydroelectric projects, dams could be win-win for Pakistan

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Pakistan's hydroelectric power operators could be significantly vulnerable to climate change given the country's significant lack of water storage capacity, according to a report published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Citing a World Resources Institute study that ranked it amongst the world's most water-stressed countries, Pakistan's Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said the country's stored water capacity is only adequate for about 30 days.

"In Pakistan, planners and policy-makers across different sectors -- including agriculture and industry, energy and health -- now have a daunting challenge before them of increasing the country's water storage capacity," Iqbal said.

The minister said Pakistan needs a minimum of 40% of approximately 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus River system, though the storage capacity now is about 7% and decreasing with sediment buildup.

Pakistan's need for water storage infrastructure is compounded given the country's susceptibility to flooding.

According to a report published by UN-Water, Pakistan ranks ninth among countries most affected by floods, making dams a critical component not only for water storage, but also water control.

Pakistan seems to have taken note, however, as the country has announced a number of hydropower- and dam-related infrastructure projects in recent months, including the 740-MW Munda and 35-MW Harpo, 83-mw Kurram Tangi, and 128-MW Keyal Khwar plants.

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