Asian Water Development Outlook 2020 published

The Asian Development Bank and the Asia-Pacific Water Forum has virtually launched the fourth edition of the Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) report. Asian Water Development Outlook 2020 recognises the critical role water security plays on the road to achieving sustainable development, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic which has stressed crucial links between health and the economy.

“ADB’s long-standing commitment to understanding water security in Asia and the Pacific has been behind the development of the AWDO since 2007…the AWDO is an important policy and communication tool for our water sector and our clients in the region”, said Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at ADB.

Released in December, AWDO 2020 describes the status of water security in the region which measures the availability of safe and affordable water supply, sanitation for all, improved livelihoods, and healthy ecosystems, with reduced water-related diseases and floods. The report uses updated methodologies and in-depth analysis of water financing and governance developed in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and emphasises them as essential interconnected components to strengthen and maintain water security.

“The 2020 edition shows an improvement of data sets, the evolution of the indices, and a depth of knowledge and insights, as conveyed by the sophistication of the assessments through the interplays of the five key dimensions”, pointed out Changhua Wu, Vice-Chair, Governing Council from the Asia-Pacific Water Forum.

Similar to the 2013 and 2016 editions, AWDO 2020 assesses national water security across Asia and Pacific focusing on five Key Dimensions (KDs)—rural, economic, urban, environmental, and water-related disaster—and scores 49 member countries’ performance in the KDs across five stages to direct efforts where needed. It also includes case studies demonstrating how the AWDO has influenced policy development in four countries.

Key dimensions of national water security in the AWDO (credit: ADB Water Sector Group)

Originally supporting two of the five KDs of the AWDO, the Australian Water Partnership has also supported the development of a COVID-19 Water Security Risk Index for the Indo-Pacific. Developed by researchers from Griffith University’s International WaterCentre and the School of Medicine, the Risk Index builds on the AWDO approach as well as existing risk-based frameworks for infectious disease. It considers factors that influence a country’s vulnerability to respond to COVID-19 risks from a water security perspective.

AWP and the Griffith team are now developing case study briefs drawing from the Risk Index results which will provide a snapshot of water-related COVID-19 risks at a country and sub-national level. The aim is to enable governments, communities, and development organisations to better understand and prioritise what water investments could be made to reduce a country’s vulnerability to respond to COVID-19 impacts in the short-term and recover and rebuild in the medium- to long-term.

Feature photo: Children play and fetch water from the community tap at the Behala slum area, Kolkata, India (credit: Amit Verma / ADB)
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