The Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) report reveals that not even one out of 49 countries of the Asia Pacific region can be considered ‘water secure’. South Asia and parts of Central and West Asia are faring the worst, with rivers under immense strain, it adds.

In the Asia Pacific region, the study highlights two stark realities – sharply rising inequality in access to water and sanitation, and the increasingly precarious state of rivers. It also presents measures that can be adopted to improve water security to mitigate growing pressure from booming populations, urbanisation, pollution, over-extraction of groundwater, climate change and other factors.

It added that there are already signs of growing water scarcity and environmental stress in large parts of important agricultural regions in Asia. Groundwater levels are falling in northern India, Pakistan and the northern plains of China, it points out.

80% of the rivers in the region are in poor health, as measured by the river health index. South Asian and Central and West Asian rivers have been assessed as being in the poorest health. Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka all have rivers that are in such poor health that environmental water security is threatened in these basins, the report warns.