© Soh Koon Chng / WWF


Collective action in the Indus River basin, Pakistan

The economy of Pakistan is linked to the success of the cotton and textile sectors. This is because, Pakistan being the 4th largest producer of cotton with the third largest spinning capacity in Asia, contributes 5% to the global spinning capacity and the textile sector contributes 8.5% to the GDP of Pakistan. Furthermore, the cotton and textile sectors dominate exports, accounting for 55% of export value. At present the industry boasts 1,221 ginning units, 442 spinning units, 124 large spinning units and 425 small units which produce textile.

The cotton and textile sector is considered highly water intensive as water is an important input in cultivation of cotton and textile production processes. These sectors are heavily reliant upon the Indus River Basin for water, which puts tremendous amount of pressure on the river basin. Water wastage is a common practice in these sectors. Because of the easy availability and accessibility of water, industries do not make conscious water consumption choices. On average, about 737 billion gallons of water are withdrawn from the Indus River annually to grow cotton. For textile, the average total process water abstracted per tonne of finished textile is 163 m3/t.

Water consumption practices of these sectors need to be managed sustainably for long term management of this resource.