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Monday, 24 April, 2000, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Analysis: Poor management of resources
ganges river
The bank praises a water-sharing deal for the Ganges
By South Asia analyst Kamal Ahmed

As the Indian state of Gujarat and Pakistan's Punjab province confront the outbreak of the most severe drought in 100 years, a report says the region needs to learn how to manage its water resources.

The Asian Development Bank's annual report has warned water scarcity in South Asia could raise tensions between countries sharing international rivers.

It says integrated water management projects between governments are one possible solution.

Local and international disagreements over water have been a key cause of dispute throughout South Asia.

Strained relations

Relations between India and Bangladesh have been strained for years over sharing water from the Ganges.

Indian states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, have also been embroiled in disputes over sharing water from common rivers.

The new bank report calculates that about 830 million people throughout the Asia Pacific region lack safe drinking water and over two billion lack sanitation facilities.

One quarter of the bank's lending last year was for water-related schemes.

Acute water shortages cause death through waterborne diseases, and dwindling water supplies reduce crop yields.

But the bank warns that security issues may be even more serious.

Bangladesh, Cambodia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam rely on external water sources for nearly two-thirds of their needs.

The Asian Development Bank regards as exemplary the 1996 agreement between India and Bangladesh for sharing Ganges river.

Experts believe South Asia's water problems are due more to a lack of planning than actual shortages.

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See also:

13 Apr 99 | South Asia
Bangladesh faces water shortages
11 Jan 98 | S/W Asia
India: dirty Ganges
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