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Water in the 21st Century

Water in the 21st Century

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Published by adbwaterforall
All efforts at reducing poverty would count for nothing if the basic needs of people for reliable drinking water and sanitation are not met. The vital importance of water must be recognized-equitable provision of water for human needs, protection of water quality, and conservation of a healthy natural environment are development prerequisites of the highest priority.
All efforts at reducing poverty would count for nothing if the basic needs of people for reliable drinking water and sanitation are not met. The vital importance of water must be recognized-equitable provision of water for human needs, protection of water quality, and conservation of a healthy natural environment are development prerequisites of the highest priority.

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Published by: adbwaterforall on Mar 11, 2014
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“All efforts at reducing poverty would count for nothing if the basicneeds of people for reliable drinking water and sanitation are notmet. The vital importance of water must be recognized—equitableprovision of water for human needs, protection of water quality,and conservation of a healthy natural environment are developmentprerequisites of the highest priority.”Tadao ChinoADB President
 Special Theme
Water in the 21
Emerging global water issues
The looming water crisisThe looming water crisisThe looming water crisisThe looming water crisisThe looming water crisis
arth is the blue planet with water one of the most plentiful natural substances inits environment. There is more than1.4billion cubic kilometers (km
) of thestuff—enough to give every man, woman, andchild more than 230 million cubic meters (m
)each if we were to divide it evenly.However, more than 98 percent of the world's water is salt water and we depend forour basic vital needs on freshwater. Most fresh- water is locked in the polar ice caps. Less than1 percent of the earth's freshwater is accessiblein lakes, rivers, and groundwater aquifers. That vital 1 percent of available freshwater is con-stantly in motion, either flowing in rivers, evapo-rating and moving around the globe as water vapor, falling from the sky as rain or snow, orfiltering slowly through the earth to emergesomewhere else. It is a renewable resource on which we all completely depend. It is the gen-esis and continuing source of all life on earth.The most accessible water is that whichflows in river channels or is stored in freshwaterlakes and reservoirs. The major portion of the water diverted for human needs is taken fromthis renewable, readily accessible part of the world's freshwater resources. Although the total volume of water conveyed annually by the world's rivers is about 43,000 km
 see figure
),most of this occurs as floods—the low riverflows (base flows) make up only about19,000km
 Of this, about 12,500 km
 can beaccessed, and present levels of withdrawal
1Shiklomanov, I. A. 1997.
 Assessment of Water Resources and Water Availability in the World
. Report prepared for theComprehensive Assessment of Freshwater Resources of the World. United Nations: St. Petersburg.2Gleick, Peter H. 1998.
The World's Water 1998–1999: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources
. Washington, DC:Island Press.
account for about 4,000km
. Withdrawals areanticipated to reach 5,500 km
 per year by 2025.The demand for freshwater increased six-fold between 1900 and 1995, twice the rate of population growth.
 The 1997 United Nations(UN) Comprehensive Assessment of FreshwaterResources of the World concluded that one thirdof the world's population today already live incountries experiencing medium to high waterstress. High water stress and unsustainablerates of withdrawal are already being experi-enced in Central and South Asia, where annual water withdrawals compared with available water resources are 50 percent or more. Thenorthern People’s Republic of China (PRC) andMongolia have medium stress conditions with25 percent water use. Although water stress (
 see box on page 8
) computes at less than 10per-cent in Southeast Asia (including southern PRC)
World’s renewable
Source: Shiklomanov, I.A. (1997).
Annual volume (cubic kilometers)
Total AnnualVolume ofRiver FlowRiver BaseFlowAccessibleRiver FlowWatertoWastesNeededFlushCurrentWater Use(year 2000)
Relative Amounts in Annual Supply
 World’s Renewable Freshwater Resources
orld’s enewable reshwater esources
 ANNUAL REPORT 1999 ANNUAL REPORT 1999 ANNUAL REPORT 1999 ANNUAL REPORT 1999 ANNUAL REPORT 1999and the Pacific and is therefore considered tobe low, this measure is highly distorted by sea-sonally high river flows. In the dry season, waterscarcity occurs throughout Asia and the Pacific,and increased rainfall variability as a result of global climate change will worsen this prob-lem. Water scarcity will affect food security throughout Asia and the Pacific.The global population will expand fromtoday's 6 billion people to almost 8 billion in2025. By then, more than 80 percent of the world's population will be living in developingcountries. The World Meteorological Organiza-tion estimates, assuming the renewable waterresources will remain unchanged, that thenumber of countries facing water stress willincrease from 29today to 34 in 2025. How thesecountries manage their water resources, and whether they can produce sufficient food fortheir growing populations while catering to their water needs and preserving natural environ-ments, have important implications—andimperatives—for the Asian Development Bank(ADB) and its developing member countries(DMCs). ADB has been extensively involved inplanning, formulating, and financing waterresource projects in its DMCs, and has accu-mulated valuable experience that must be usedto respond proactively to the challenge. Thepoverty reduction strategy adopted in 1999enjoins ADB, at the policy level, to continue tosupport governments in developing, in a par-ticipatory manner, master plans for effectivemanagement of critical natural resources,including water.Competition for water is increasing amongdifferent water uses, including water for eco-logical needs. In many DMCs, irregular andinequitably distributed supplies of piped waterhave a detrimental effect on the social andeconomic well-being of most of their citizens.Ironically, consumers in almost all DMCs arecharged less for their water than it costs toprovide. Hence, utilities are reluctant to connectnew customers because water prices are too lowto allow them to recoup their investment. For thepoor, access to even a rudimentary level of mu-nicipal water supply is frequently denied, and they may be constrained to use untreated water fromhighly unreliable sources. Waterborne diseases arecausing immense suffering and loss of produc-tivity, with the poor suffering disproportion-ately. Large cities in Asia are not equipped tooffer their burgeoning populations the watersupply and sanitation services they require.Nearly 70 percent of global freshwater with-drawals are directed toward agriculture, mainly for irrigation. By some estimates (UN 1997),annual irrigation water use will have to increaseabout 30 percent above present use for annualcrop production to double and meet global foodrequirements by 2025. Although irrigation willremain the dominant water use in developingcountries, an increase of 30 percent in irrigation withdrawals may not be possible if otheressential human needs are to be met. Makingirrigation more efficient will be necessary andunavoidable. The industry sector, whichaccounts for about 22 percent of current fresh- water withdrawals globally, is likely to requirean increasing share in all regions of the worldin both absolute and relative terms. In devel-oping countries, where 56 percent of the popu-lation will be living in urban areas by 2025, theshare of water going toward domestic uses willalso need to grow substantially.
Water stress
ater stress for a river basin is defined indegree of annual water use (that is, waterwithdrawn from a surface or groundwater sourcefor human purposes) as a percentage of the totalwater resources available in that basin. Waterstress for a country is the summation of waterstress for all its river basins. Water stress beginswhen withdrawals of freshwater rise above10percent of renewable resources. Medium tohigh stress translates as water use that exceeds20percent of available water supply. Countriesexperience high water stress when the ratio ofwater use to supply exceeds 40 percent. At suchlevels, their patterns of use may not be sustain-able, and water scarcity is likely to become thelimiting factor to economic growth.

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