Most rural Asian households do not have running water. Instead, they use a barrel or other forms of containers to keep the water they retrieve from wells, pumps, rivers, and rain.
Urban water distribution systems tend to be antiquated, suffering from leaks and rusting pipes.
China's efforts to bring piped water to its citizens stand out as a success story. But few trust what's coming out of the tap.
Wells are the most ancient way to get water in villages but they are open to the elements and can be polluted by natural or human waste.
Industrialization and a lax enforcement of pollution controls have resulted in widespread pollution in Asia.
Tucked away in northwestern China, Kashgar and its surrounding desert are feeling the strains of a Chinese rush to industrialization. Drinking water is getting scarce and is sometimes contaminated. Food production and quality are also affected.
Pumps are a common way for people to get water, as they do not require open wells and are therefore cleaner. However, many Asian countries face the problem of arsenic leaking into the groundwater and contaminating water sources, sometimes making even pumped water unsuitable for human consumption.
Many households in rural areas of Asia collect rainwater during the rainy season. But over the last couple of years, dry seasons have lengthened by several days, rendering rainwater an unreliable source of drinking water.
With a dry season that lengthens every year, Myanmar is one of the countries most at risk of losing agricultural productivity due to climate change.
NGOs and charitable organizations sometimes help people in rural areas by distributing bottled water. But this happens only rarely and is unreliable in the long term.
"They just said, 'Don't use it,' and sprayed it with red paint," a Cambodian villager said about a water pump contaminated with arsenic. A survey by the World Health Organization found many pumps along the Mekong River and its tributaries to be contaminated.
In the Mekong Delta, Vietnamese rice farmers have been reaping the benefits of three crops per year. But the stress on the water system has led some to question this bonanza's sustainability.
In remote Northwestern China, where Uyghurs live, the lack of iodine in the water has long been a severe health problem. But some experts say the problem may now be considerably reduced.
"Getting sanitation talked about by policymakers is difficult," an NGO worker told our reporters in Luang Prabang, Laos. As a result, many people remain undereducated about the link between sanitation and health.
Worldwide, as many as 1.5 billion people suffer health problems as a result of lacking proper sanitation. Here, Steve Sugden from Water for People discusses the importance of building latrines.
In Cambodia, Aun Hengly of WaterShed Asia speaks about toilet building and sustainable economy.
Like many other rural people in China, farmers in Xinmin village appear to be on the losing end of the rush to riches and economic reforms. As one says, "What can be polluted is polluted, what can be sold is sold."
As Myanmar suffers its second consecutive year of severe drought, drinking water becomes scarce and experts want to make sure the needs of all people are addressed.
Brahma Chellaney, author of Water: Asia's New Battleground, says China controls the spigot for much of Asia's water.
This project was produced by Wubi Wang.
Executive producer is Catherine Antoine.
The names of the reporting team and videographers remain anonymous to protect their sources.
The videos and articles draw extensively on the RFA language services' reports.
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