Focus Area: Sustainability of Malaysia's Water Resources Utilisation | WWF Malaysia

Focus Area: Sustainability of Malaysia's Water Resources Utilisation



Local community queuing for water rel=
Local community queuing for water
© WWF-Malaysia/T.H.Teoh

Water for now and in future

Malaysians continue to waste water - a precious and finite resource – despite the frequent episodes of water shortages that make headlines every so often. As a nation, we just don’t feel strongly enough about managing our water resources sustainably.

For planners and decision makers in government, it helps to have suitable indicators to measure the sustainability of our water resources. WWF-Malaysia, with the assistance from Water Watch Penang (WWP) studied the state of water resources management in Malaysia to identify:
  • major issues relating to sustainability of water resources in Malaysia;
  • suitable Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) to measure the sustainability of water resources.

The study identified 11 major issues that affect the sustainability of Malaysia's water resources. For the SDI, the study recommended the Water Sustainability Index (WSI) that measures the sustainability of water resources both in terms of availability and usage. Water availability directly affects the sustainability of water resources and therefore, the country’s overall sustainable development. Whereas, water use if uncontrolled, can deplete supply, rendering water resources unsustainable. Water use - linked to high water consumption and wastage, and high non-revenue water (NRW) rates - can undermine the sustainability of our water resources.

The WSI showed a decrease from 64% in 1992 to 33% in 2002 – a reflection that Malaysia’s water resources are rapidly depleting and have been managed unsustainably. Applying a more comprehensive and reliable WSI in future that incorporates additional aspects such as water resources availability, water supply adequacy, water catchment adequacy, water pollution, water consumption, NRW and water rates would be the way to go.

Besides providing a good resource tool, the study results also contributed inputs to a publication produced by Forum 21 entitled 'Malaysia's Development Progress Towards Sustainable Development' on six key sectors including water resources. This informal network of Malaysian environmental and social NGOs aims to share ideas, opinions and recommendations on sustainable development based on the Agenda 21.