This is a boom period for the city of Gwadar with 2019 set to be a landmark year in the region’s history. Construction has now begun on Gwadar airport while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a whole host of new projects for this year and beyond.
Amid all the positive news, there are one or two questions that need to be answered, particularly for those who are looking to invest in Gwadar. One of those perceived issues relates to a potential water shortage and what is being done to address it.
What are the facts relating to water in Gwadar?
It is fair to say that Gwadar isn’t a great natural source of water: It is a coastal location and there have been previous moves to bring in desalination but until now, there have been some technical issues. In his address at Gwadar Expo 2019, Imran Khan announced the development of a new desalination plant which would be a significant improvement on existing facilities.
Officials in Gwadar have taken other steps to ensure adequate water supplies in the past. Previously, tankers were driven in from the Mirani Dam in nearby Kech. That offered some form of solution but costs were high and supplies began to dwindle. Long term, the new desalination plant may help Pakistan to act independently but at present, they are getting assistance from elsewhere.
In answer to the question at the start of this section, there may be a continual need for water solutions in Gwadar at the moment. These are being addressed however and certain articles that point to a continual water crisis in the region carry levels of exaggeration. It pays to relate to the facts and, as we come back to the original question, we can look to China in terms of an effective, ongoing answer.
What are the Chinese doing to address water supplies in Gwadar?
In May 2018, the government in Balochistan signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese company. The agreement meant that China would be supplying 300,000 gallons of clean drinking water to Gwadar every single day. The cost was set at just 80 Paisas a gallon and was therefore a far most cost-effective solution to anything that had gone before.
But why are China so keen to get involved? The answer lies in Gwadar’s importance to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alliance between the two countries. China has invested billions of dollars into the region and is as keen to get into the realms of problem solving as Pakistan are themselves.
Gwadar has, historically, experienced some issues with water supply but the Balochistan government has been addressing them since development began in the port city. It would be wrong to suggest that there is an ongoing crisis but it’s fair to say that China has done most in regards to solving the issue.
There is a strong and steady supply of clean drinking water and while Pakistan may become more autonomous in this respect moving forward, credit must go to the Chinese at present.