Averting Asia’s Water Crisis

Through high-speed, high-resolution exascale computing, researchers and citizen scientists are tackling water stress across Asia by discovering better ways to treat water and monitor its flow.

AsianScientist (Mar. 16, 2022) – For many communities around the world, rivers and seas are their lifelines. To meet nutritional needs, fisherfolk haul in marine catches, while farmers need constantly flowing water to irrigate their agricultural lands. For sanitation, drinking and livelihood security, access to clean water is arguably the most vital resource. Asia, however, is facing a snowballing water crisis.

More than half of the global population resides in Asia, with urban population growth expected to rise by a staggering 60 percent by 2025. Yet the region has less freshwater, just under 4,000 cubic meters allocated to each person per year, than every other continent on the planet, barring Antarctica. By 2030, the demand for freshwater will far surpass supply by 40 percent if interventions are not put in place.

The effects of such a daunting water gap are already tangible today. Take India, for example, where over 90 million lack access to safe water and nearly 230 million lack access to improved sanitation, such as proper sewage systems and private toilets. As many households continue to depend on untreated surface or groundwater, the health and economic toll is on the upswing—21 percent of India’s communicable disease cases are linked to water stress.

Indonesia faces a similar situation with groundwater dependence, as less than half of the population had access to piped water in the 1990s, playing a role in the Jakarta’s sinking landmass today. While targets sought to improve coverage to 98 percent by 2017, the real figure stood at just under 60 percent.

As climate change and water shortage collide, communities may become increasingly burdened by frequent disasters, worsening health and a planet sinking in untreated waters. Urgently, scientists and innovators are looking towards the pinnacle of high performance computing (HPC)—exascale computing—to turn the tide in Asia and the globe’s water crisis.

Erinne Ong reports on basic scientific discoveries and impact-oriented applications, ranging from biomedicine to artificial intelligence. She graduated with a degree in Biology from De La Salle University, Philippines.

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