Asian Water Development Outlook 2020 Warns Of Relatively Weak Water Security In South Asia


Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) report describes the water security status in Asia and the Pacific. Strengthening national water security is a must for improving the quality of life of all people in Asia and the Pacific.

Recovering from the setback caused by COVID-19 and adapting to climate change requires that all countries put water security at the top of their agendas.

Water security enables economic growth and provides the conditions for a healthy and prosperous population.

Water Security in South Asia

Asian Water Development Outlook 2020 reports that water security in South Asia is strongly influenced by the relatively low performance of rural household water security and urban water security. The report says that the progress in these dimensions was made during 2013–2020 but not enough to bring this region to the same level as East Asia and Southeast Asia.

The report further adds that the South Asian region performs weakly on environmental water security but comparatively well on water-related disaster security. Progress of overall water security was made during 2013–2016 but did not continue during 2016–2020. Priority actions for governance improvement in South Asia are policy coherence, managing trade-offs, and monitoring and evaluation.

Water Security in Central and West Asia

Water security in Central and West Asia shows reasonable scores for countries of the former Soviet Union but rather weak for Afghanistan and Pakistan. All regions, except South Asia, show good progress in water-related disaster security. South Asia experienced some major disasters in the last 10 years, which influenced their score negatively.

What is water security?

Water security, according to AWDO, is the availability of adequate water to ensure safe and affordable water supply, inclusive sanitation for all, improved livelihoods, and healthy ecosystems, with reduced water-related risks toward supporting sustainable and resilient rural-urban economies in the Asia and Pacific region. AWDO has been tracking water security in the region since 2013.

Water Security in Asia and the Pacific

The economies of Asia and the Pacific must put water security on top of their post-Covid-19 agenda and adapt to climate change, the Asian Develop­ment Bank (ADB) said in its Asian Water Development Outlook 2020.

Despite achievements in the Asia Pacific region over the last few decades, 1.5 billion people living in rural areas and 600 million in urban areas still lack adequate water supply and sanitation.

Of the 49 ADB regional members, 27 face serious water constraints on economic development, and 18 are yet to sufficiently protect their inhabitants against water-related disasters, ADWO report says.

Furthermore, the report stresses the need for these countries to increase their investment in water, sanitation, and other water-related infrastructure and services by convening all public, private, and innovative financing to achieve quality growth and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Financing is also needed to enable and sustain a virtuous system of good governance, which requires efficient water-related organizations with sufficient capacity and financial resources to enable them to provide coherent policies, monitor and evaluate progress, and take action when needed, all in interaction with the stakeholders in a transparent way.

The need for water security is even more urgent due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic because access to water, sanitation, and hygiene offer the primary line of defense against the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Key Recommendations 

  • Position water as the centerpiece of sustainable rural development by promoting water-effective irrigation
  • Community-based water and sanitation services, and locally resilient disaster risk reduction such as the combination of community protection and farmland flood retention.
  • Achieve urban water security by investing in water, sanitation, and disaster risk reduction infrastructure services not only in cities but also in slums and peripheral areas while following a gender-based approach.
  • Provide a healthy environment for the people by drastically reducing pollution, stimulating a circular economy, increasing terrestrial protection, and embracing nature-based solutions for improving water security.
  • Increase the resilience of the water systems to avoid water-related disasters and to be prepared for the climate and other global changes.
  • Turn recent lessons of disasters into better practices of tomorrow by building back better and applying nature-based solutions.

Also Read: Water Crises In Pakistan; Reasons And Suggestions For Improvement

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