OECD Trade and Environment Working Paper No. 2006-03, Hight & Ferrier E-mail
Thursday, July 16, 2009

One of the key challenges to ensuring adequate supplies of fresh water and sanitary wastewater systems is to build the capacity of various stakeholders to manage and deliver water and sanitation services. One element of such capacity building is technological and includes the wide deployment of water quality monitoring and analysis equipment. This report explores four cases, in China, India, Malaysia, and Chinese Taipei, where the water-quality monitoring and protection capacity has been improved through the use of imported water-quality monitoring equipment combined with indigenous implementation.

Building Capacity To Monitor Water Quality: A First Step To Cleaner Water In Developing Countries

Despite some progress over the last 15 years, inadequate fresh water supplies and the lack of sanitary wastewater systems plague vast regions and populations of the planet. The grim statistics were highlighted most recently at the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City. Approximately 1.1 billion people lack consistent access to clean drinking water, while 2.6 billion people suffer from inadequate sanitation. As a result, diarrhea diseases associated with tainted water and inadequate sanitation kill 1.8 million people annually, mostly children.

In Asia alone, more than 650 million people did not have access to safe drinking water in 2002, according to Asia Water Watch 2015, a report commissioned by the Asian Development Bank to measure progress toward the water quality components of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to reduce by half the number of people lacking adequate water and sanitation.

As underscored in statements issued at the Fourth World Water Forum, building the capacity of communities, local, regional and national governments, NGOs and firms to manage and deliver water and sanitation services are key challenges in meeting the MDGs for water. “Capacity development is a cornerstone for sustainable development, hence directly related to the real chances to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and reduce extreme poverty,” states the World Water Council in its report on the forum.

While capacity building encompasses financial, educational and social goals, there is also a technological element, in which water quality monitoring and analysis equipment must be deployed on an increasingly wide scale in developing countries where water supply and wastewater treatment is inadequate.

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