Unless these competing needs are balanced, “water security will remain elusive, undermining development gains and the quality of life for billions of people in the region, especially the poor,” said Ravi Narayanan, vice chair of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum governing council.
The good news is that the proportion of the region’s population with access to drinking water has increased from 74 percent to 91 percent between 1990 and 2010. Progress has been made in all subregions expect the Pacific, where access remains low at 54 percent.
However, access to reliable tap water supply paints a different picture. Although more than 900 million people gained access to piped water, more than 65 percent of the region’s population does not have what should be considered a secure household supply.
Most cities in Asia, which accounts for half of the world’s 20 megacities, have extensive infrastructure for domestic water treatment and supply, although piped systems often stop short of individual households, and potable water services are not maintained full-time at the point of delivery, the ADB said.
For instance, some cities in China and South Korea provide round-the-clock water service, but in many other cities tap water is only available for limited hours. In Jakarta, water is available in most areas for about 18 hours each day, and in Chennai, India, water is available for an average of only about four hours each day.
Then there is the question of health. About 88 percent of all diarrhea cases are attributed to lack of adequate access to water and sanitation.
Although the percentage of people with access to improved sanitation rose from 36 percent in 1990 to 58 percent in 2010, 1.74 billion people in Asia and the Pacific continue to live without access to improved sanitation. More than 792 million people still suffer the indignity of practicing open defecation, and more than 631 million of these people live in rural South Asia.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>