ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in its Asian Water Development Outlook 2020 that the economies of Asia and the Pacific must place water conservation on top of their post-Covid-19 agenda and respond to climate change.
Despite the Asia Pacific region’s successes over the last few decades, 1.5 billion people in rural areas and 600 million in urban areas still lack sufficient supplies of water and sanitation. Of the 49 ADB regional participants, 27 face significant economic growth restrictions on resources, and 18 are not yet adequately secured against water-related disasters, the study said.
The study emphasises the need for these countries to maximise their investment in water, sanitation and other water-related facilities and services by drawing together all public, private and transformative funding to support quality growth and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Financing is also required to allow and maintain a virtuous structure of good governance that involves successful water-related entities with adequate capability and financial capital to deliver consistent policy, to track and measure success, and to take action where appropriate, all in a clear manner in the engagement of stakeholders.
In its key recommendation, the Water Outlook Report indicates that by encouraging water-efficient irrigation agriculture, community-based water and sanitation facilities and locally resilient catastrophe risk mitigation, such as the combination of community security and farmland flood preservation, water can be placed at the heart of sustainable rural development.
This will enable a good economic circle of locally-affordable investment, income generation, proper management and operation, and an enhanced level of welfare for the people, the report says.
The study also called on regional countries to achieve urban water protection by investing in infrastructure systems for water, sanitation and disaster risk mitigation, not only in cities, but also in slums and peripheral areas, while adopting a gender-based approach.
For the countries of the former Soviet Union, water security in Central and West Asia indicates fair ratings, but very poor for Afghanistan and Pakistan. All countries, with the exception of South Asia, are showing strong improvement in disaster protection related to water. In the last 10 years, South Asia has undergone several big disasters, which have had a negative effect on its ranking.
The comparatively poor performance of rural household water security and urban water security has highly affected water security in South Asia. During 2013-2020, improvement was made in these measurements, but not enough to put the country to the same degree as East Asia and Southeast Asia.
The area also performs weakly on the protection of ambient water, but on water-related catastrophe security comparatively well. In 2013-2016, improvement in overall water protection was made, but in 2016-2020 it did not proceed.