Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals,communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Country Water ActionsAsia: Are Countries in Asia on Track to Meet Target 10 of the MillenniumDevelopment Goals?
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reflect theglobal community's commitment to reduce poverty over thenext decade, a period designated by the United Nations asthe Decade of Water for Life.One of the targets for Goal 7-Target 10-identifies access toadequate and safe water and improved sanitation asfundamental to poverty reduction. Target 10 calls forhalving, by 2015, the proportion of people withoutsustainable access to safe drinking water and improvedsanitation.
PROGRESS IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Great progress has been made inmany countries in Asia and thePacific but much still remains tobe done if the MDG target is tobe met.In 2002, around 3.16 billionpeople - 82% of the population -in the Asia and Pacific region hadaccess to improved watersupplies, up from 74% in 1990.The most dramatic improvementwas in urban water supplycoverage, where 368 millionpeople had gained access to improved drinking water, anincrease of 35% of the total rural population of the regionsince 1990.Formidable challenges remain in Asia and the Pacific. In2002, approximately 669 million people in the region werestill without access to safe drinking water. Aggregate figuresalso mask dramatic disparities between the subregions,between nations within subregions, and even betweendifferent parts of individual countries.The story for sanitation is less satisfactory. Coverage forimproved sanitation in the region lags behind the rateneeded to attain the MDG target. As of 2002, less than half the population of the region had access to improvedsanitation facilities. Of the 2.6 billion people in the worldwithout access to improved sanitation facilities, 2 billion arein the Asia and Pacific region.
PROSPECTS TO 2015
Important insights on where to focus efforts in the watersector can be gleaned from existing trends.The "big two," China and India, are both makingtremendous progress and serve as engines behind theoverall achievements of the region. India is in an enviable position of meeting Target 10 forboth water supply and sanitation indicators in both urbanand rural areas, according to data reporting and trendsanalysis.PRC is facing greater challenges and is less likely to meetthe urban sanitation indicator. The urban and rural watersupply target and the rural sanitation target, on the otherhand, will likely be achieved if present growth rates aremaintained.A number of other countries, including India, Micronesia,Myanmar, and Tuvalu are also expected to meet the watersupply indicator ahead of schedule. Several other countries,including Maldives, some Pacific nations and the Philippines,struggle to meet the water supply target unless significantimprovements are made to existing trends.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Just what would be the cost of meeting the MDG target forwater supply and sanitation in the Asia and Pacific region?The new publication suggests that achieving Target 10would cost around US$8 billion annually in the region.Although a significant sum, this is far less thancorresponding figures quoted elsewhere. The key messagefrom this is clear: For Asia and the Pacific as a whole,achieving Target 10 is affordable. The key is how tostimulate investments from as wide a range of sources aspossible, including consumers themselves and the privatesector as well as from governments and the internationalcommunity.
DEFINING THE CHALLENGES: WHERE CHANGE ISNEEDED
In defining the trajectory of and priorities for change,decision makers need to address a range of issues in fourcore areas:Policy, legal, and regulatory reform. Reforms shouldensure that a supportive environment exists forsustained efforts in the sector and should clearlydefine the roles, rights, and responsibilities of allactors.Planning and technology choices. The range of technology and management choices must bebroadened to include developing innovative, low-costtechnical choices that can be implemented by poorcommunities.