World Focus: Living with droughts and dry taps

Water supplies in Asia under threat, leaving millions without access to safe drinking water

Villagers filling plastic canisters with water from the shrinking Cipamingkis River in Bekasi, West Java province. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Villagers filling plastic canisters with water from the shrinking Cipamingkis River in Bekasi, West Java province. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A fisherman at Angat Dam, which was exhausted after an abnormally long dry season. It provides running water to Metro Manila, where water demand outstrips supply. A shepherd guarding his livestock at the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of
A fisherman at Angat Dam, which was exhausted after an abnormally long dry season. It provides running water to Metro Manila, where water demand outstrips supply. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Left: A resident filling a pot with water from a tap at a residential complex in Chennai. Above: Workers at a railway station in Tamil Nadu filling a tanker train with water to be transported and supplied to the drought-hit city of Chennai.
Above: Workers at a railway station in Tamil Nadu filling a tanker train with water to be transported and supplied to the drought-hit city of Chennai. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A fisherman at Angat Dam, which was exhausted after an abnormally long dry season. It provides running water to Metro Manila, where water demand outstrips supply. A shepherd guarding his livestock at the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of
A resident filling a pot with water from a tap at a residential complex in Chennai.
PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Emo at her store in Muara Baru village, where she has been selling sweets and cigarettes for 40 years. ST PHOTO: JEFFREY HUTTON
Ms Emo at her store in Muara Baru village, where she has been selling sweets and cigarettes for 40 years. ST PHOTO: JEFFREY HUTTON
A fisherman at Angat Dam, which was exhausted after an abnormally long dry season. It provides running water to Metro Manila, where water demand outstrips supply. A shepherd guarding his livestock at the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of
A shepherd guarding his livestock at the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai, India. Water levels in the city’s four main reservoirs have fallen to one of the lowest in 70 years, media reports said. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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Rain has returned to much of Asia, including the southern Indian city of Chennai where the first monsoon downpours have been buffeting the city since late last month.

But all four of the city's reservoirs have run dry and analysts warn that rapid urbanisation plus poor planning and maintenance mean many parts of Asia remain vulnerable to severe shortages as demand for water grows. Climate change is driving up temperatures and causing more extreme swings in the weather, including more intense droughts.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline World Focus: Living with droughts and dry taps. Subscribe