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
NameShortage of Water in Gwadar, the port at the end of corridor China/ Pakistan
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesWater
Transport services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGwadar 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).

Right now, the Gwadar peninsula – a hammerhead-shaped projection of land into the Arabian Sea – is home to about 100,000 people, following completion of the first phase of the port development. But as development continues, the area’s population is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2020, according to the port authority’s website. (2). On one side of the peninsula is the deep-sea port, built by the Chinese state-owned China Overseas Holding Company. On the other side lies the local harbour. Fishing was Gwadar’s main economic activity before the port started operations, and some local people say they so far see little benefit in the government’s grand plans. “We are dying from thirst, there are no doctors in our hospitals, the electricity comes and goes and there is garbage everywhere as no one collects it,” complained Rasool Bux, a fisherman who lives near the harbour.(2). “First fix all these problems. Then develop this dream of Dubai,” he urged.

Bux said most in the town get their water from tankers that

make the two-hour drive from Mirani Dam. But the tankers only come once or twice a month to his area, Bux said, and shortages are common.(2)
Level of Investment (in USD)57,000,000,000 (China Pakistan Corridor)
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population100,000
Start Date2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Overseas Holding Company. from China
Relevant government actorsGwadar Development Authority.

Government of Pakistan.

Government of Balochistan.

Government of China.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNil
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationMedia 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
OtherLack of water
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
OtherIllnesses attributed to lack of water
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
OtherHigh water prices charged by the so-called "tanker mafia".
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of AlternativesDesalination plants and new dams.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

(2) Gwadar port aims to become new Dubai. Reuters , April 24, 2018
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Tanker mafia selling Rs 800 million water daily to Gwadar city

Islamabad. December 29, 2017 BY APP
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(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
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(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
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Media Links

Promotion video for Gwadar port
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(4) Impressive visual of the corridor Kashgar (China) to Gwadar (Pakistan)
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Other Documents

Picture Families waiting to donate water from tanker in Gawadar
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Meta Information
ContributorSibth Ul Hassan, Awami Workers Party, Pakistan
Last update03/06/2018