While Pakistan accounts for a mere fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it ranks as the eighth most vulnerable nation to climate changes on the global stage. July 2022 mark a grim testament to this vulnerability when Jacobabad, a city in the Sindh province, experienced temperature exceeding 53°C, a level considered intolerable for human endurance. These pronounced climatic variations have exacted a substantial toll on Pakistan, resulting not only in the loss of lives but also in the erosion of livelihoods due to water scarcity and food insecurity, two interconnected and aggravating problems facing Pakistan. Pakistan is grappling with a profound water crisis. The upsurge in average temperatures and frequent heatwaves, coupled with growing population, have led to a significant uptick in the demand for water, leading to increased competition for water use between and across different sectors. The nation’s water status has rapidly shifted from “stressed” to “scarce”, already falling below the critical threshold of annual water availability of 1,000 cubic meters per person. Over the last seven decades, Pakistan has witnessed an alarming 80% drop in water availability per capita. This decline raises significant concern. By 2025, it is predicted that Pakistan could face droughts as its per capita water availability can fall below 500 cubic meters causing absolute water scarcity. This is further depicted by Figure 1 which represents the extreme water stress Pakistan is likely to face in the near future. These pronounced climatic variations have exacted a substantial toll on Pakistan, resulting not only in the loss of lives but also in the erosion of livelihoods due to water scarcity and food insecurity, two interconnected and aggravating problems facing Pakistan. Moreover, the intermittent shortage of water when needed, juxtaposed with excessive water resulting from unexpected rainfalls and floods, has inflicted substantial effects on the critical agricultural infrastructure, damaging standing crops, grain storage and livestock. All this has given rise to a significant problem: food insecurity. In other words, the confluence of reduced agricultural production due to water scarcity and the consequences of extreme climatic events has resulted not merely in a lack of food but also a deficit in the financial means necessary to procure it. The impact of water scarcity on food security is particularly acute in the context of climate change, as demonstrated by the findings of Climate Change Division. The prolonged occurrence of intense heatwaves, now at 41 days per annum, is anticipated to result in a critical water shortage by 2050 and an alarming increase in food insecurity from the current 40% to a projected 60% by 2050. The repercussions of these adversities extend beyond agriculture, profoundly impacting lives and livelihoods. This ripple effect includes elevated poverty rates, a substantial decline in purchasing power, and an alarming rise in malnutrition, particularly among the most impoverished and vulnerable rural populations. The aftermath of the catastrophic floods of 2022 left approximately 14.6 million individuals in need of urgent assistance concerning food security and livelihood, ruining more than 60% of crop yields and causing unprecedented food inflation. Figure 2 depicts the trend in food inflation since September 2022, mainly attributed to the shortage of supply of vegetables and meat causing an upward pressure on relevant prices. There is a noticeable surge in food prices, peaking at an all-time high of 48.65% in May 2023. According to preliminary findings from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) study, approximately 10.5 million individuals, representing 29% of the rural population, are facing food insecurity from April to October 2023 in 43 vulnerable and flood-affected districts in Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This number is projected to rise to 11.81 million people, 32% of the rural population, from November 2023 to January 2024. Climate change, water crisis and food insecurity are causing significant hardships in Pakistan. Nearly 18% of the population faces severe food shortages, 43% do not have sufficient access to food and only 36% enjoys safe and well-managed water resources. Most of this is attributed to severe and rapid climate changes. This calls for serious actions. Ensuring effective water management is the foremost and pivotal step for Pakistan. Employing better water governance, reducing water losses, recycling wastewater, controlling water pollution and constructing small to medium-sized dams can help ensure a more sustainable water supply. Additionally, creating and maintaining reservoirs for rainwater harvesting and storage can help manage water resources efficiently. Pakistan can learn from India’s community-based programs implemented in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State that resulted in more water-efficient agricultural production, benefiting over 600,000 residents. These measures are indispensable for alleviating water constraints and boosting agricultural productivity. Pakistan can also collaborate with international agricultural research centers, like the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), to develop crop varieties that are more resilient to changing climate conditions. Adopting modern irrigation techniques including drip irrigation (an innovative solution that brings water directly to the root of the crops), precision agriculture (that fertilizers and protects the soil and crops equally) and laser leveling (allows farmers to achieve uniformity in field preparation for uniform water and moisture distribution), can help optimize water use in agriculture. Additionally, early warning systems and comprehensive disaster response plans must be established to protect both lives and livelihoods of people when confronted with extreme climate events. It’s crucial to underscore the significance of climate change awareness and education, drawing inspiration from Sweden’s pioneering approach where climate change education is seamlessly integrated into the curriculum. Furthermore, Pakistan should diligently craft and implement comprehensive policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation. These policies must give primacy to the prudent management of water resources and the assurance of food security. To ensure their effectiveness, these policies should not merely be documents on paper but should be supported by robust legislation and enforced rigorously, thereby translating intent into impactful action. By adopting these multifaceted strategies, Pakistan can embark on a path to alleviate the impact of climate change on water scarcity and food insecurity, ensuring a more sustainable and resilient future. The writer is a Project Consultant at World Bank and a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Economics at LUMS.