A major water crisis seems to be brewing in Asia. Whether it is China, Australia, India or Vietnam the problem is universal as millions of people struggle with droughts or water shortages that have destroyed crops, brought factories to a standstill and provoked political disputes.

"It's an economic resource. The allocation of water is now a key issue," says Asad Shah, a senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) official. Similar concern is expressed in official circles in Singapore. "If we don't sound the alarm bells now, when do we sound them? In 6 years' time when water rationing is being introduced?" questions Yeo Cheow Tong, Singaporean trade and industry minister.