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Shortage of Water in Gwadar, the port at the end of corridor China/ Pakistan

Gwadar’s port city, a hub of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, suffers from continuous water crisis. There is citizen unrest against the authorities and the "tanker mafia".


Gawadar port is a small town near the Iranian border on Arabian sea in strategice Persian Gulf. Due to climate change and persistent drought in the region there is shortage of water supply which was further escalated after arrival of many workers from China and other parts of Pakistan, when it became part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Where the port has been leased by Pakistan to China for 40 years, the extreme shortage of drinking water supply has caused protest in the town.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Shortage of Water in Gwadar, the port at the end of corridor China/ Pakistan
State or province:Balochistan
Location of conflict:Gawadar
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Water
Transport services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Gwadar port in Baluchistan province is a main feature of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and key to the belt and road initiative. (4). China Overseas Port Holding Company plans to expand Gwadar Port, constructing nine, new multipurpose berths along 3.2km of seafront to the east of the existing berths. Pakistan awarded the contract for construction and operation to China in 2013. Gwadar Port will provide an alternative route to the Malacca Strait (4). The corridor starts in Kashgar is an oasis city in China’s Xinjiang region with a history stretching back more than 2000 years. The city served as a key trading post along the historical Silk Road. It goes through Gilgit-Baltistan, part of the Kashmir region, which is disputed by India and Pakistan. An estimated 1.8 million people live in the highly mountainous region which covers an area of 72,971 sq km. Trade and tourism are the main economic activities of the region. China boosted investment in 2009 by signing an agreement with Pakistan for a major energy project which included the construction of a 7,000-megawatt hydroelectric dam (Suki-Kinari). The corridor continues to Islamabad, Karachi and the new port at Gwadar(4) a small town near Iranian border on Arabian sea in strategice Persian Gulf. Due climate change and persistent drought in the regiion there is shortage of drinking water supply. which was further escalated after arrival of many workers from China and other parts of Pakistan, when it became part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Last November 2017, protesters from Gwadar traveled all the way to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, where they protested in front of the Karachi Press Club. When this proved insufficient, the protesters also blocked a main traffic artery, the Syed Hashmi Avenue, and forced a city-wide strike to protest the water crisis during Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi’s visit to Gwadar to inaugurate the newly constructed Marine Drive road. Once the tanker companies were paid, they started to truck in water again. (3).

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Level of Investment:57,000,000,000 (China Pakistan Corridor)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:100,000
Start of the conflict:2017
Company names or state enterprises:China Overseas Holding Company. from China
Relevant government actors:Gwadar Development Authority.
Government of Pakistan.
Government of Balochistan.
Government of China.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nil
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactsLack of water
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsIllnesses attributed to lack of water
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Other socio-economic impactsHigh water prices charged by the so-called "tanker mafia".
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of alternatives:Desalination plants and new dams.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:There is no immediate solution to shortage of water. While the China Pakistan Corridor (stretching to the new port of Gwadar) attracts inventment and work opporunities, the port city has no facilities for such an increased population, and it lack water, which is brought in tankers from the Mirani dams at an expensive price charged by "the tanker mafia".
Sources & Materials

(2) Gwadar port aims to become new Dubai. Reuters , April 24, 2018
[click to view]

(3) Gwadar’s Water Crisis. Gwadar, the regional hub of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor struggles with continuous water crisis after years of chronic water shortages. By Mariyam Suleman. May 01, 2018
[click to view]

Tanker mafia selling Rs 800 million water daily to Gwadar city

Islamabad. December 29, 2017 BY APP
[click to view]

(1) Hindustan Times, 25 April 2018. As part of ambitious CPEC project, Gwadar port aims to become a new Dubai. The aim is for Gwadar – located on the Arabian Sea near Iran and the mouth of the Persian Gulf – to become a regional commercial, industrial and shipping hub, as part of the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Promotion video for Gwadar port
[click to view]

(4) Impressive visual of the corridor Kashgar (China) to Gwadar (Pakistan)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Sibth Ul Hassan, Awami Workers Party, Pakistan
Last update18/08/2019
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