Insights and Analysis

World Water Day 2015: Links We Like

March 18, 2015

March 22 is World Water Day, and this year’s theme is focused on water and sustainable development. The relationship between water and development is particularly critical in the Asia-Pacific region, one of the most water-stressed regions in the world, and home to 61 percent of the world’s people, with a population expected to reach five billion by 2050. As we celebrate the progress made in protecting this global resource, it’s also a time to examine what’s at stake for Asia’s rapidly growing population and developing economies if these most urgent water-related concerns continue. Here is a selection of related stories from our blog:

A polluted river in Nepal.

While South Asia supports more than 21 percent of the world’s population, it has access to just over eight percent of global water resources, with per capita water availability decreasing by nearly 80 percent since the 1950s. Photo/Conor Ashleigh

Images of the major rivers of Asia – including the mighty Mekong that snakes through Southeast Asia and the Ganges and other revered rivers that bisect the subcontinent – might seem at odds with the sobering fact that Asia is the world’s driest and most water-stressed continent. Explore a photo blog from some of these most stressed areas.

Despite its wealth of natural resources and pristine image, Mongolia faces a severe water scarcity and quality crisis – one that could leave its growing capital, Ulaanbaatar, faced with water shortage as early as 2015. Tirza Theunissen blogs from Ulaanbaatar: “Water Scarcity a Threat to Mongolia’s Sustainable Development.”

South Asia, home to the Brahmaputra, Indus, and Ganges, has numerous bilateral treaties, agreements, and joint commissions that regulate the use and management of shared rivers between Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Yet information on these agreements, let alone the rivers themselves, is notoriously hard to access. Read more from Mandakini D. Surie and Sagar Prasai: “Transparency Needed for South Asia Transboundary Water Cooperation.”

A city’s ability to provide water services is an important indicator of its “greenness.” However, many of Asia’s poorer cities are not able to provide wide-reaching, consistent water services –almost 1.9 billion people in Asia do not have basic sanitation, which represents over 70 percent of the global total. Additionally, more than half of the world’s people without access to safe drinking water reside in Asia. Read: “Better Urban Water Management Needed for Asia’s Cities.”

Clean rivers in Laos are critically important to the well being of local communities and to the country’s national development. Nearly 80 percent of the population of this landlocked Southeast Asian nation depends on river-fed subsistence agriculture for its survival. Explore: “Photo Blog: Improving Water Quality in Laos.”


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