01 Oct 2018,
Different ball game
The cricketer-turned-politician-turned-Pakistan Prime Minister has launched a quixotic campaign to build dams across the country in order to tackle Pakistan’s chronic water shortage — to raise $14 billion through crowdfunding. But here’s why his plan may never succeed:
Imran Khan is banking on the country’s population, of 20.17 crore and its expat population of 7.6 million — though 24.3% of its domestic population, or almost 5 crore people, lives below the poverty line of $1.25 a day.
Khan wants each of his expat Pakistanis to contribute $1,000 each, which would raise just $7.6 billion, or just a little more than half the amount needed. Which means that the balance amount of $6.4 billion is to be raised from 15.17 crore people, who will need to contribute $42 each, while their per capita income is $1,641.
In pic: Tarbela Dam spillway is pictured in Tarbela, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province.
If it succeeded, the campaign would be the largest crowdfunding effort in history — shattering the current Kickstarter record 700 times over. The biggest crowdfunding effort in the world to date, a Kickstarter campaign for the Pebble Time Smartwatch, raised just over $20 million in 32 days, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Dam good idea?
The country is rich in glaciers and rivers, but has just two large-capacity dams, and has for decades slept through warnings of a water crisis. With its surging population experts warn Pakistan faces “absolute water scarcity” by 2025.
Part of the plan
Its location in territory disputed by India means major international donors have refused funding, while financing terms proposed by ally China were rejected as too harsh.
Experts also question whether the Diamer-Basha dam is feasible in an earthquake-prone region, while others point out that simply patching up Pakistan’s current water infrastructure and rethinking its water policies would be more efficient.