The Growing Threat of Water Insecurity & Waste Management


Water insecurity — or scarcity per se, covers a larger margin and dynamic that we could ever imagine. About 71% of Earth is covered by water and the larger proportion of it is held by our oceans. As abundant as this sounds, the freshwater we drink, bathe in and is used to irrigate farms is incredibly rare. Fresh water is a mere 3% of our supply, and two-thirds of that makes up frozen glaciers. [1]

Resource management and service provision [2] are the two parts that make up the water sector in Malaysia, in which the service provisions include water supply for domestic, industrial and agriculture, hydro-power and recreation as well as eco-system maintenance. The water resources needed for these services are drawn from the intertwining natural systems.

Referring to Appendix 1 in ‘Water for All: The Water Policy of the Asian Development Bank’ — the water resources in Asia and its related areas are particularly scarce. This is not just an issue that has been happening for over a day or two, but stress levels for water are high and demand will continue to outdo supply.

Now, speaking for and of waste management — Malaysia had a target leading to 2020 to increase recycling rates to 22% and divert 40% of waste from landfills. However, according to the stats found as of 29th July that same year, almost 90% of waste was reportedly disposed of to sanitary landfills, while only 10.5% had been recycled. [3]

Evidence of waste has been remarkably attributed towards the latest ‘development’ we have been really preaching on. The news from our National Solid Waste Management Department is that authorities responsible for collecting municipal solid waste often illegally collect commercial and industrial waste alongside the prior in order to increase trips to landfill — indirectly claiming more money from the authorities.

This vast urbanisation that we constantly pride ourselves on has in return increased the waste management crisis that we currently face, either directly or by extension of a pre-existing problem as it is. It has always been our responsibility to realise and reflect upon all actions and its consequences either to fellow mankind, or nature. We, however, neglect said responsibilities for a promised return of a lifestyle we currently enjoy as ‘eco-friendly living’.

In conclusion, as blasphemous as water and waste management may sound to many — we should all realise that mandated campaigns and programmes are sometimes mere propaganda and efforts start small — as small as the palm or our hand switching off a tap, or planting an extra tree. It starts from us.


  2. Ahmed F, Siwar C, Begum RA. Water resources in Malaysia: Issues and challenges. Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment. 2014 Apr;12(2):1100–4.

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