Presently home to almost a quarter of the world’s population, South Asia’s population is set to top two billion people by 2025. Though endowed with vast water resources and a high potential for hydropower and economic development, the region is subject to floods and droughts, now likely to worsen with climate change. While population growth and economic development vary from country to country, agriculture provides more than 60% of the population with a livelihood and uses by far the most water.
Poor environmental management, partly linked to poverty – over one-third of the population lives on less than US$1 a day – and corruption compound the challenges of inadequate supplies of potable water and lack of sanitation. Over 900 million people do not have access to basic sanitation. Water quality is degraded by high levels of agricultural, industrial and domestic pollution exacerbated by unplanned urbanisation. Studies show that South Asia is a climate change hot spot where livelihoods are highly vulnerable.
Strategic priorities of GWP South Asia
Through its multi-stakeholder Country Water Partnerships, the strategic priorities for GWP South Asia are to address poverty, agricultural productivity, water supply and sanitation, and to encourage adoption of IWRM principles to address the impacts of climate change, especially floods and droughts, ground water management and transboundary waters. Water governance is a critical overarching issue and GWP South Asia will intensify the promotion of institutional frameworks through political roundtables to ensure inclusion of IWRM in national development plans, participatory decision making, and transparency to reduce corruption and promote equity.
Reinforcing knowledge sharing
The region will reinforce its communication and knowledge sharing strategies through greater use of the internet and the GWP Toolbox. Knowledge sharing will not only focus on best practices but will also cover intra- and interstate water sharing, pricing and property rights for water, hydropower pricing, and water and culture.
Expanding the region’s partnership
Expanding the region’s partnership base and strategic alliances will strengthen the network’s visibility and services. GWP South Asia will intensify the establishment and strengthening of Area Water Partnerships (such as the Karachi Water Partnership), Zonal Water Partnerships and Local Water Parliaments because they serve as ground-level mechanisms for multistakeholder dialogues. GWP South Asia also intends to develop its funding strategy to secure public, corporate, and private support.