UNICEF and FAO have just released a new report analysing the issues facing India’s water sector.
The report, titled ‘Water in India: Situation and Prospects’, looks at the current situation of India’s water resources and water management taking into account the effects that poor water sanitation is having on the population as well as highlighting how climate change is and will continue to wreak havoc on water availability.
The report highlights the skewed nature of India’s water availability, stating that the country accounts for 16 percent of the world’s population but only has about four percent of the world’s water resources.
The key issues facing the sector in India include:
- erratic distribution of rainfall, often leading to floods and droughts in various areas;
- water use inefficiency;
- unregulated groundwater extraction;
- water pollution; and
- decreasing water quality due to poor waste management laws, inter-state river disputes, growing financial crunch for development of resources and scarce safe drinking water.
Climate change will only worsen the situation and the report also highlights that the lack of availability coupled with poor water management policies have led, partly, to poor sanitation facilities. The World Bank estimates that this lack of adequate water sanitation accounted for economic losses equal to 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in 2006 (i.e. 53.8 billion USD).
The report also outlines the effects that poor water sanitation is having on health, and particularly, child health, stating that poor sanitation and scarce water supply contributes to stunting in children as well as to the death of 600,000 children under five each year.
The report calls for an upgrade in existing water infrastructure and has been issued so that it can be used as a platform to develop new strategies to manage water resources. Download the entire report by visiting UNICEF’s website.