MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping the People's Republic of China (PRC) prepare a framework for managing the allocation of water resources to meet the needs of a growing population and a rapidly expanding economy.
ADB will provide a $500,000 grant for the project from its technical assistance program. The Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the Water Financing Partnership Facility managed by ADB will extend a $250,000 grant. The fund is backed by the governments of Australia, Austria, and Norway. PRC will allot $200,000 to complete the funding.
With an effective allocation system, water can be distributed equally among regions and users, and priority areas identified during periods of scarcity. Rules will also be put in place for sharing limited water resources while preserving the environment for sustainable development.
The new framework will protect water resources from over-exploitation. It will also incorporate measures to accommodate new users while protecting existing ones.
"Water resources play a central role in maintaining human health and welfare, the safety of the environment, and economic growth. The challenge is not only how to manage a declining resource but also how to respond to its scarcity and the mismatch between supply and demand," said Yaozhou Zhou, Water Resources Management Specialist of ADB's East Asia Department, "An effective water allocation system will promote river basin and water security, stability, and prosperity at local and national levels."
Population growth, rapid economic development, and the absence of a clear framework to govern water rights and allocation have increased water use and competition among users, depleting supply and worsening water pollution.
Water availability per capita fell to 2.15 billion cubic meters in 2006 from 2.25 billion cubic meters in 2000, and is expected to fall further to 1.87 billion cubic meters by 2030 when population is forecast to reach 1.52 billion.
PRC has 20% of the world's population but just 7% of its fresh water. The north of the country accounts for 45% of total population and 65% of fertile land but only 19% of water resources. On the other hand, the south comprises 55% of total population and 35% of fertile land but 81% of water resources.