Asia’s worsening water crisis

MANILA – ASIA is facing a worsening water crisis that threatens to curtail food production while taking an increasingly heavy toll on the region’s economies, the Asian Development Bank said on Tuesday.

Governments, industries and people around the region urgently need to stop wasting so much of the precious resource if they are to limit the shortage, ADB infrastructure advisor Arjun Thapan said.

‘The water footprint in our towns and cities, in our irrigation systems, our energy production systems and in industry in general, is extravagant,’ Mr Thapan said at a water crisis conference hosted by the Manila-based lender.

‘It needs to shrink and Asia needs to become acutely conscious of the scarcity value of its accessible freshwater, and the imperative of efficiency in managing it.’

In a report, the ADB faulted weak enforcement of laws for the degradation of Asian water quality, with between 80 and 89 per cent of all untreated wastewater leaching into fresh water in east and south Asia, respectively.

It also highlighted that while irrigated agriculture uses up 80 percent of the region’s fresh water, there have been only very minimal irrigation efficiencies since 1990. Climate change, rapid industrialisation, water pollution, dietary shifts and the drive to grow biofuels are also expected to deepen the water crisis, according to Thapan. On current trends, this would lead to a 40 per cent gap between water demand and supply in Asia by 2030. — AFP

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