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ASEAN faces uphill battle to stabilise water supply, drainage

Update: October, 21/2013 - 09:01

About 1.74 billion people living in Asia have yet to access water drainage services, 69 per cent of whom are in Southeast Asia.— File Photo

HCM CITY (VNS) — ASEAN countries face major challenges in water supply and waste water treatment, warned experts at a recent regional water forum in HCM City.

The average rate of water supply coverage in Southeast Asian countries was only 30 per cent, said Nguyen Tuong Van, Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Water Utilities Network (SEAWUN).

About 1.74 billion people living in Asia have yet to access water drainage services, 69 per cent of whom are in Southeast Asia.

He also noted that the rate of water loss in the region was high (35 percent) while the rate of waste water treated before disposal remained low (38 per cent) compared to 85 per cent in developed countries.

Given these challenges, he urged ASEAN governments to try harder to mobilise resources for the water sector, not only with official development assistance but also with help from individuals and the private economic sector in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs).

At the forum, many policy makers and experts from other countries shared experiences, management models and methods as well as national investment in water sources.

Lain Menzies, senior World Bank expert on water supply and sanitation in the East Asia-Pacific region, said that the number of PPP projects in water supply and drainage among ASEAN countries remained limited, so they should change their policies to promote this investment model.

A representative from the Asian Development Bank said the bank had expanded co-operation among Asian water sectors, focusing on sanitation, water quality, asset management and taking full advantage of energy.

The forum brought together experts from Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Germany and Finland.

Water pollution seminar

Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta hosted a seminar on water pollution last Friday that focused on improving water supply to households in the context of seawater encroachment due to climate change.

Less than 70 per cent of households in Can Tho have access to water supplied by the Can Tho Water Supply and Drainage Co, according to data presented at the seminar.

Rapid urbanisation helped bring clean water to many suburban areas. However, suburban neighbourhoods still lag behind urban areas when it comes to clean water access.

The Can Tho Centre for Clean Water and Environmental Sanitation, with its huge capacity, could supply more water households in rural areas if it linked up with the Can Tho Water Supply and Drainage Company's pipelines.

But this cannot be done since the centre and the utility are unrelated companies and are thus subject to different tariffs, attendees said.

However, they agreed on the necessity of producing a report urging the city People's Committee to supply clean water to all households in the city. — VNS

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