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NEWS UPDATES 13 October 2010

ADB addresses Philippines water issue

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the government should forge partnerships with the private sector to secure the Philippines' water supply amid a looming shortage across Asia in the next two decades.

In a press conference Tuesday, Arjun Thapan, ADB special senior advisor for infrastructure and water, said a water supply shortfall of 40 percent in the region is likely by 2030 as demand for food increases.

At present, 80 percent of Asia's accessible freshwater resources go to irrigated agriculture. In the region's urban areas, 29 billion cubic meters of treated water valued at $9 billion are lost to leakages every year.

Providing water below costs, or giving it away at no cost, coupled with the lack of integrated planning for water use, weak governance, and low levels of investment from the private sector have also hampered management of the resource.

Large infrastructure investments will be needed to address the region's water problems, with at least $8 billion required just to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal's 2015 targets for safe drinking water and sanitation, according to ADB.

Thapan said the regional lender has allocated over $2 billion a year for financing projects that would promote efficiency in water use.

To mitigate the impending shortage in the Philippines, Amy Leung, ADB chairman for its water committee, also said that the government also needs to adopt a "holistic approach" by engaging the private sector, communities and other stakeholders to put up a plan to efficiently develop and utilize water resources.

"It also doesn't help when you have too many water agencies who do not get together to talk," she said.

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