Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

20 Mar, 2014

Growing problem of untreated wastewater focus of World Water Day March 22

Bangkok (ESCAP News) March 19, 2014  — Even as global population grows steadily, an estimated 768 million people in the world do not have access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation and 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity. The United Nations predicts that by 2030, we will need 35% more food, 40% more water and 50% more energy.

Highlighting this, the regional Asia-Pacific commemoration of World Water Day (WWD) this year will be celebrated under the theme of water and energy. The UNESCO-led World Water Development Report 2014 – which will be launched at the commemoration – underlines the need for appropriate responses and regulatory frameworks that account for both water and energy priorities. In Asia and the Pacific, where 60% of the world population live, water availability is only 38% of the total world water availability and Asia and the Pacific has per capita energy consumption lower than the global average.

Other highlights of the commemorative event include a panel discussion on ‘ Water and Energy,’ followed by a luncheon talk on ‘Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities – The Urban Nexus’, in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The WWD commemoration is being organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in partnership with the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), together with the Government of Thailand.

Improved sanitation and wastewater management is crucial to maintain water security. It can bring significant benefits to poor communities, particularly women, and ensure the health of eco-systems and local populations. However, despite this keen need, a lack of awareness amongst policy makers, and the relatively high costs of sewage collection and treatment, often deters investments.

Against this backdrop, a joint UNESCAP and UN-Habitat project has been created as a stepping stone to a regional vision of assisting selected countries in South-East Asia to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by addressing the fast-growing problem of untreated wastewater. This is to be done through the promotion of the Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (DEWATS).

A Regional Policy Workshop of Stakeholders on Decentralized Waste Water Treatment Systems (DEWATS) in Southeast Asia is under way in Bangkok between 19-21 March, 2014. Its objective is to enhance knowledge and awareness of DEWATS for urban and semi-urban communities in South-East Asia among national-level policy-makers, local government officials and other experts.

This workshop draws from the elements of the joint ESCAP-UN-Habitat project implemented in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam and will focus on building the capacity of policy-makers and planners for better wastewater management.

During the two first days of the session, challenges, policy tools and good practices of wastewater management and sanitation will be presented by national and local governments, as well as knowledge-sharing from regional network experts. Discussion will cover a wide range of aspects, from policy to institutional, technical, financial and stakeholder frameworks.

It will also consider practical solutions for DEWATS in the region. The third day of the workshop will focus on the positive outcomes of the waste water management system and will be combined with the commemoration of the World Water Day on Energy and Water.

More details of the workshop: http://www.unescap.org/events/regional-policy-workshop-stakeholders-decentralized-waste-water-treatment-systems-dewats

More about World Water Day: www.unwater.org/worldwaterday.