Water Resources and Irrigation Policy Issues in Asia

Freshwater is a finite resource that is being continuously exploited to meet the requirements of an increasing population. The estimated average available water per capita worldwide decreased from about 40,000 cubic meter (m3) in 1800 to 17,000 m3 in 1950, 12,900 m3 in 1970 and 7,000 m3 in 1997. Although the present availability is still relatively high, it is rapidly decreasing – projected to be only 4,700 m3 by 2025. Moreover, there are large spatial and temporal variations in water availability. In some parts of Asia, water availability is less than the threshold level of 2,000 m3, below which an area is considered water-stressed.

Vol. 1 No. 1, June 2004

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