Manila: More than 75 percent of Asia-Pacific countries lack water security, with many of them facing an imminent water crisis unless immediate steps are taken to improve the management of water resources, according to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released Wednesday.
The study titled "Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2013" was jointly prepared by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asia Pacific-Water Forum (APWF).
ADB vice president Bindu Lohani said that while the Asia-Pacific region has become an economic powerhouse, it is "alarming" that no developing country in the region can be considered water secure, reported Xinhua.
"In Asia and the Pacific, more than 60 percent of households live without safe, piped water supply and improved sanitation. South Asia and Pacific islands are hot spots with lowest coverage. Inequity is highest in South Asia," Lohani said in a speech delivered in the opening of the Asia Water Week 2013.
The three-day conference, which is being held at the ADB's headquarters in the Philippines capital, is expected to provide a venue for all stakeholders in the region to come up with innovative solutions to enable countries to address water security issues.
Lohani said the Asia-Pacific region needs $59 billion in investments for water supply and $71 billion for improved sanitation.
The ADB suggested that countries in the region should modernize irrigation services, actively manage water demand and consumption, and implement measures to reduce competition among users.
Asia-Pacific countries were also urged to adopt corporate-style governance to improve urban water and wastewater services and encourage utilities to make "urgent investments" to reduce water leakage.
ADB said it is ready to provide the financing needs of Asia-Pacific countries that seek to roll out projects and programs that will enhance water security in their areas.
The Manila-based lender noted that it has rolled out its Water Financing Program and Water Operational Plan which support improved water security by investment in infrastructure and services, capacity development, knowledge sharing, and regional cooperation.
The second edition of the AWDO is considered the first quantitative and comprehensive view of water security in Asia Pacific countries.
"By focusing on critical water issues, Asian Water Development Outlook 2013 provides finance and planning leaders with recommendations on policy actions to improve water governance and guidance on investments to increase their countries' water security," Lohani said.
The joint study will be highlighted when policy makers in the region attend the second Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Thailand this May.