Developing Asian nations warned on water access

6 Aug 15

More than 1 billion people in Asia do not have access to safe drinking water despite the region’s dynamism and strong economic growth, the Asian Development Bank has warned.

The bank is urging its developing member countries, including Malaysia, Philippines and Myanmar, to improve the management and governance of water systems.

It said it would also continue to make investments in its Water Financing Program, created in 2006 to deliver investment, reform, and capacity development programs in areas such as rural, urban and river water.

The programme will continue until 2020 with target investments to be sustained at $2bn-$2.5bn annually or a total of over $20bn-$25bn by the end of the decade, the ADB said.

“Unless we manage the issue now, water insecurity will continue to pose a serious threat to Asia’s growth and prosperity,” said Vijay Padmanabhan, the bank’s technical advisor for the Water Sector Group.

Asia is susceptible to the impacts of climate change impacts, the bank noted.

Recently, countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam have all suffered from floods leaving destruction in their wake. Moreover, some countries in the region go without rainfall for long periods, causing increased water shortages at both local and regional levels.

“Finding solutions to Asia’s water challenges means addressing a labyrinth of complexities and taking innovative approaches that will enable us to do ‘more with less’,” added Yasmin Siddiqi, an ADB Principal water resources specialist.

“We can only achieve this if we recognise water as being intrinsically linked across all users and shift away from conventional, piecemeal approaches.”

Challenges and approaches to addressing water security will be discussed by the ADB and over 2,500 delegates from over 130 countries later this month at World Water Week in Stockholm.

The event, organised by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), has been running for 25 years and has become an annual focal point for experts to discuss the globe’s water issues. 

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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