ASTANA: Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili has expressed concern over the efficiency of water use in Malaysia.
He said in a 2015 report by the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia, it was estimated that some 75% of available water was used for irrigation, with efficiency ranging from 50% in the larger systems to 40% in smaller schemes.
This means at least half of the water used in irrigation did not reach its intended target.
This scenario, said Dr Ongkili, was compounded by rising demand from industrial and domestic sectors, low water productivity of rice fields as well as poor maintenance of irrigation infrastructure.
“Therefore, improved efficiency in the use of water is essential for food security in Malaysia, apart from the need to increase rice production,” he said in his address at a ministerial dialogue session on “Energy-Climate-Food Nexus: Towards A Circular Economy” at the Eighth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development here yesterday.
Appreciating the link between water and energy as well as food production, he said, would become increasingly important as Malaysia sought to grow its economy in an era of climate change.
“Water is used in the production of almost every type of energy (for cooling fossil-fuelled power stations to turning turbines in hydropower).
“Secondly, energy is a dominant cost factor in providing water and wastewater services,” said Dr Ongkili.
He pointed out that agriculture was often the largest consumer of water in the global economy, accounting for about 70% of water withdrawals, and this figure was not going down anytime soon as demand for food, especially meat, would only grow with prosperity.
“For instance, a change in lifestyle and diet in Asia will increase the demand for water-intensive products such as meat and dairy products,” said Dr Ongkili.
He said in the formulation of National Transformation 2050 (TN50), dialogue sessions would include views on the environment and climate change.
“Currently, surveys, expert consultations and roadshows to solicit the people’s ideas and aspirations for the nation are being carried out,” said Dr Ongkili.
This, he said, would culminate in a plan by year-end, outlining the country’s national aspirations, milestones and concrete targets for various sectors, including energy, green technology and water.