Islamabad:

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched a fundraising appeal to construct new water storage dams to tackle droughts, warning that the country’s current capacity would not last beyond a month.

Official estimates show that by 2025 Pakistan will be facing an “absolute scarcity” of water, with less than 500 cubic metres available per person — just one third of the water available in parched Somalia, according to the UN.

The country has massive Himalayan glaciers, rivers, monsoon rains and floods — but just three major water storage basins, compared with more than a thousand in South Africa or Canada.

In a televised message, Khan announced the launch of a fund to address shortages, warning that the country has “water storage capacity only for 30 days”.

“I appeal to all Pakistanis especially those living abroad to donate generously to the fund,” he said.

“Expatriate Pakistanis living in western countries and Europe should donate at least $1,000 (Dh3,670) to the fund while those engaged in labour and other low-salaried jobs in Middle East and other countries should also contribute according to their financial situation,” he added.

The funds will be used to construct dams in northern and northwestern Pakistan, including the massive Diamer-Bhasha hydropower project, which is expected to produce over 4,000 megawatts of electricity on completion in 2023.

Khan and his cabinet face a myriad of challenges including a faltering economy, militant extremism, water shortages, and a rapidly growing population negating growth in the developing country.