Singapore, only 710 square kilometers in size and the most densely populated country on the planet, has managed the remarkable goal of becoming almost 100 percent self-reliant for water, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank.
Previously dependent almost entirely for its water on Malaysia across the Causeway, with which it sometimes has maintained less-than-cordial relations, “Singapore faced the enormous challenge of water scarcity and vulnerability as its population grew rapidly after it obtained independence in 1965,” according to the ADB report, Good Practices in Urban Water Management.
Delivery of sustainable water supply and sanitation services thus has become a crucial issue. Although more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved water sources since 1990, it is unlikely that the world will meet its sanitation targets set in the Millennium Development Goal. Some 605 million people are expected to be without improved drinking water sources, and 2.4 billion will not have access to improved sanitation facilities, the ADB report notes.
On a wider scale, the lack of availability of fresh water has led to a US National Intelligence Estimate on water security completed in 2010 that says that beyond 2022, the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism will become more likely, particularly in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.