SOUTH ASIA: INTENSE WATER DEFICITS FORECAST FOR AFGHANISTAN THRU AUGUST OR LONGER

26 March 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast indicates severe water deficits in much of Afghanistan, with exceptional deficits in the north and west. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Pakistan, but deficits may be intense in western Baluchistan.

Moderate to severe deficits are expected across northern India and in the southernmost states, trailing into northern Sri Lanka. More intense deficits are expected in far northeastern India. Moderate deficits are forecast for Bhutan.

Mild to moderate surplus conditions are forecast across central India, especially along rivers, and in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Surpluses are expected to be exceptional in Jammu and Kashmir, along the Gandaki River through Nepal and into India, and in a small pocket of southern India in the western Penner River Basin. 

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions.

As is apparent in the map progression above, intense deficits will persist in India through May, after which the forecast indicates primarily moderate deficits in the south, mild deficits in the north, and mild surplus in a belt stretching coast to coast across the country’s middle.

In the next several months, through May, deficits will blanket much of the country’s northern half, with severe to exceptional deficit conditions in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and along the Narmada River. Moderate deficits are forecast scattered throughout the southern half, with exceptional conditions in a pocket of Karnataka along the Tungabhadra River. Intense surpluses are forecast for Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, and the western Penner River Basin in southern India. Surpluses of generally lesser severity are forecast during this period in western Maharashtra, through Pune, and along the western Krishna River into Karnataka. Both deficit and surplus conditions (pink/purple) are forecast for Gujarat as transitions occur.

Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Afghanistan and southern Pakistan, with exceptional deficits around Karachi. Surpluses are forecast for Nepal and Bangladesh, which may be exceptional in western Bangladesh.

From June through August, deficits in India will downgrade to mild in the north and primarily moderate in the south. As previously mentioned, a transition is forecast for a vast belt across India’s middle, stretching from the Narmada River in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east. Surpluses are expected to be primarily mild with moderate surplus along the Narmada River and south-central Madhya Pradesh, and along the Ganges River in Bihar, becoming more intense along the Gandaki River through Nepal. Intense surplus conditions will persist in the western Penner River Basin of Andhra Pradesh.

Intense deficits will continue to emerge in Afghanistan and in India’s far northeastern states, moderate to extreme deficits will emerge in Bhutan, and deficits in Pakistan will downgrade to mild. Surpluses will nearly disappear in Bangladesh, persisting as moderate surplus along the Ganges.

The forecast for the final period – September through November 2018 – indicates mild to moderate surplus in much of India, and deficits in Afghanistan.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

IMPACTS
Pakistan will announce its first ever national water policy by the end of the month, says its Federal Minister for Power. Citing Pakistan as one of the most water-stressed nations, the minister emphasized that water stress has become a more serious national concern than terrorism. The Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources has warned that the country could run out of water by 2025 when population is expected to pass the 250 million mark. The country's national water plan will include water pricing and address agricultural water use efficiencies. 

The foundation stone of a major desalination plant was laid in Pakistan's coastal city of Gwadar, Balochistan. The project will initially provide locals with 16.6 million liters (4.4 million gallons) of water per day, eventually doubling that amount. In a report released by Water Aid, 21 million Pakistanis - roughly 10 percent - lack access to clean water. 

Villagers in India's northeastern state of Manipur threatened to disrupt the inauguration of a mega dam, prompting authorities to postpone the event. Prime Minister Modi was scheduled to launch the Mapithel dam, which has been under construction for the last 30 years, before the state government agreed to postpone. A coalition of community groups opposed to the dam is demanding compensation for displaced residents. The protests are seen as part of a larger movement against population displacement for large infrastructure projects. At least twelve current land conflicts in the country involve hydroelectric dam projects.

Over one hundred Indian farmers from the northern state of Rajasthan have threatened to immolate themselves if they do not receive compensation by the end of March for flood damage to their land. Poor farmers, they claim, were ignored by surveyors after the damage, while rich and politically influential farmers were serviced.

After meeting with state ministers, thousands of farmers in Maharashtra have ended a six-day long protest over loan waivers. The group had converged in Mumbai, the state capital, after walking 167km (103 miles) from Nashik district. The government agreed to expand the loan waiver scheme and settle land rights issues.

Years of consecutive drought in Karnataka, India, have left 36 percent of children under 5 years of age too short, and 26 percent too thin according to a report by UNICEF’s Disaster Risk Reduction Section.

In Sri Lanka, the prevailing drought is affecting 300,000 people across five districts. Over 200 mobile water tanks have been deployed by the Disaster Management Centre.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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