The Asian Development Bank warned that despite of strong economic growth, countries in Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, water crisis in the region is imminent unless urgent steps are taken to manage water resources.
According to the ADB and Asia-Pacific Water Forum report, Asian Water Development Outlook 2013, water security is a major concern in the region as nearly two-thirds of the people have clean, piped water at their homes and 75% of the economies lack water security.
Bindu N. Lohani, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President for Sustainable Management, said that “Although Asia continues to show remarkable development and poverty reduction, and the role of Asia in the global economy has significantly increased, water security is becoming an issue of concern.”
The said study provided a quantitative and comprehensive analysis of water security on a country per county basis, which examined key dimensions of water security. These dimensions were identified as household water security, economic water security, urban water security, environmental water security and resilience to water related disasters.
For the Philippines, it registered a grade of 2 out of 5, being the highest, showing that the country is “engaged”, meaning the nation has a legislation and policy supported by government capacity-building programs, improvement in institutional arrangements, and increasing levels of public investment.
The country scored a rating of 2 for household water security, environmental water security, and resilience to water-related disasters, 4 for economic water security, and it got the lowest possible score of 1 for urban water security.
The lowest means the country is lacking in terms of management in cities and treatment of wastewater, which is an area of serious concern to increase the country’s water security.
With water security as a major concern for other countries aside from the Philippines, the main problem having poor management and lack of investment in infrastructure rather than short supplies.
“What is lacking in Asia is good water governance. There is a definite link between good governance and good water,” Ranesh Vaidya, a water specialist from Nepal, said.
Out of the 49 countries assessed, the study found out that 37 countries, including the Philippines, are “either suffering from low levels of water security or have barely begun to engage in the essential task of improving water security.”
Only Australia and New Zealand has an effective national water security while the others such as Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong manages to ensure water security in their territories.
In an access to toilets, the study showed that the percentage of Asia’s population in access to proper toilets rose from 36% in 1990 to 58% in 2010. But, this percentage left a total of 1.74 billion people without access to proper toilets, with nearly half of those still suffering “the indignity of practicing open defecation”.
For piped water, 900 million people gained access to clean, piped water from 1990 to 2010 but 65% of the population has no secure household water supplies, with the people in Pacific and South Asian countries in dire need because only 21-23% of the population has access to piped water.
Lohani acknowledged that Asia Pacific has become an economic powerhouse but with no country developing their water security, it is alarming for the country. He urged the countries to improve water governance through inspired leadership and creative policy making.
“The outlook assesses water security in five dimensions and makes recommendations to leaders of finance, planning, and water agencies on steps that will increase water security. The analysis shows that most countries in the region will still need to make substantial investments if they are provide their populations with sustainable water security,” Lohani explained. He also noted that the entire Asia-Pacific region needs $59 billion in investments for water supply and $71 billion for improved sanitation.
Since 2010, Ramon CF Cuervo III noted that there are various beautiful tourist areas in the Philippines but with no source of potable drinking water.
“Our natural tropical islands that have the potential to be developed into resort and hotels are not feasible because of the lack of potable water,” the Real Estate Professional said.
Although in Cuervo’s forecast of heavy rains and floods in this year of the Water Snake where he wrote on the dangers and opportunities of “Fire and Rain”, we are now facing some kind of water crisis. Not just flooding, but also the lack and shortage of potable water in distant areas and islands.
Water availability is important in developing a land and a must for every real estate developers. “Availability of potable water is an important factor to consider before investing in land. This is what breaks or makes land values in areas like the Coron Islands, Busuanga Islands, areas In Mindoro, or islands in the Visayas and northern Mindanao,” he said.
Lack of access to toilets is also prevailing in slum areas around Metro Manila. One glaring example are the floating houses in Navotas. Residents have toilets in their homes but have no water. And worse, human wastes from the toilets goes directly to the sea and thus, contributing to the worsening water pollution in the area.
With sources from Business World and Philippine Daily Inquirer