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Water Security, Pandemic and Climate Change.

Incorporating Public Health into Future Water Policy: Perspectives from South Asian Countries

This study aims to explore the dynamics between public health and water security under the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in all eight South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Experts from these countries have been asked what the current and future situations are in relation to water security and the pandemic, and how the pandemic reveals the relation and dynamic between water security and public health. The data displayed in this publication are until late August.

Water security has already become a major concern for South Asia. For the most part, the issue does not lie in the lack of supply itself but in hygiene and accessibility. The pandemic this year exposed plenty of new challenges to the world and particularly to developing regions like South Asia.

Although South Asian governments recognise the importance of the linkage between clean water supply and public health, such consideration is often restricted to minor local outbreaks. As the region realises from the current pandemic that public health and water security go hand in hand with each other and neither of the two can be dealt with a vacuum, South Asian countries are finally incorporating public health factor into their water policies. It is one thing to design water management strategy, quite another to implement it.

Countries in South Asia are facing various types of hurdles when it comes to implementation: from lack of infrastructure to complex water governance, especially considering the unique circumstances – ranging from the mountains of Afghanistan to the sea of the Maldives. Moreover, the current pandemic raises public attention to gain access to WASH facilities and better water quality, meaning that it is no longer sufficient to merely supply water to the population.

All these will certainly raise the bar on achieving regional water security, but will also provide the necessary public support for investment in these essential but oft-neglected water infrastructures in the long run.


Further Readings:

1. Water Security and Disaster Management in Asia

2. Scarcity in Abundance – The Structural Obstacles in Achieving Water Security in South Asia


Dr. Christian Hübner


Head of the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change Asia-Pacific +852 28822245
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