Asia must rethink water management to avoid Crisis
Developing Asian Countries must Rethink Water Management to Avoid Crisis
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – To avoid a crisis in water security, developing countries in Asia will have to rethink how they manage their vital water resources, according to a new report produced for the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO), authored by a team of experts led by Professor Asit Biswas, the 2006 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, says government leaders in the region can protect their nations’ water resources, but they will need to concentrate on some key areas to ensure water security for their populations, and the region as a whole.
“We can confidently predict,” Biswas says, “that Asian developing member countries, (DMCs) should not experience, or expect, a crisis in the future because of physical scarcity of water; there is now enough knowledge, technology and expertise available in Asia to solve all its existing and future water problems. If some Asian DMCs face a water crisis in the future, it will not be because of physical scarcity of water, but because of inadequate or inappropriate water governance.”
Areas of concern include education for professionals in the water industry, the water needs of the environment, the impact an aging population will have on water consumption and the impacts of food production and energy generation and development.
A major challenge for Asian developing countries will be how to “integrate appropriately all the concerned resource policies in the areas of water, energy, food, and environment,” says Biswas. “Such integration has been very difficult to accomplish in the past and is likely to be even more complex and difficult in the future.”
In January 2001, the ADB approved a comprehensive water policy, called Water for All, that recognizes the Asia and Pacific region’s need to formulate and implement integrated, cross-sectoral approaches to water management and development. In general, the policy seeks to promote water as a socially vital economic good that needs increasingly careful management to sustain equitable economic growth and reduce poverty. The policy advocates a participatory approach in meeting the challenges of water conservation and protection in the region.
For 2006-2010, the ADB expects to sharply increase its investments in the water sector through its Water Financing Program, which directs funds, reforms and capacity development programs at rural communities, cities and river basins. It is expected that such investments will be well over $2 billion annually, representing approximately 25% of overall ADB lending over a three-year moving average period, and a doubling of ADB’s investments in water compared with 1999.
Later this year, in Japan, regional heads of state as well as private- and public-sector water experts will convene for the first of what the ADB expects to become a recurring Asia-Pacific water summit. The AWDO was commissioned by the ADB to assist regional leaders in understanding water issues and in formulating policies to address those issues.
“The AWDO is a recipe for action. The report is cautiously optimistic on Asia’s water future. It points out that with existing knowledge, experience, and technology, the water problems of the Asian developing countries are solvable,” says Xianbin Yao, Acting Director General, Regional and Sustainable Development Department.
“A common message from many papers in the AWDO is that commitment and leadership need to be further developed among senior managers and officials. Finding champions who recognize the importance of implementing water management reforms and having the vision and courage to promote them may be the greatest challenge of all. The AWDO offers many examples of ways to overcome these and the other problems faced by Asian development countries in the water supply and sanitation sector,” says Woochong Um, Director, of the Energy, Transport, Water Division which produced the report.
The main report is accompanied by an interactive CD-ROM with thematic and country reports, and links to more detailed information on the various topics addressed in the main report as well as videos on the subject. Download the full report from the ADB website