Meeting discusses ways to tackle water-related hazards


The frequency and intensity of water-related hazards and disasters are expected to increase in the Himalayan region as a result of climate change, and therefore there is an increasing need for timely and reliable early warning system for better preparedness to minimize the adverse impacts of floods. 

Underlining the above scenario, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is implementing a project to establish a regional flood information system in the HKH Region in close collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the six regional partner countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Photo credit: Mr Mirza Shahid Mahmood/Pakistan

Photo credit: Mr Mirza Shahid Mahmood/Pakistan

The regional flood information system will help improve flood forecasting and disaster preparedness in the region. The overall objective of the project, called HKH-HYCOS in short, is to minimize loss of lives and livelihoods by reducing flood vulnerability in the HKH region with specific reference to the Indus and Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basins by strengthening regional cooperation for sharing flood data and information among the member countries. The project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Finland.

Recently, ICIMOD in collaboration with Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and the WMO organized the project’s seventh Regional Steering Committee meeting from 10 to 12 December 2013 in Islamabad, Pakistan.  Over 30 participants attended the meeting representing Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and Pakistan as well as the WMO, Government of Finland, Finnish Meteorological Institute, ICIMOD, and international experts. 

The meeting reviewed the project progress and agreed on the development of a project proposal for the next phase focusing on strengthening institutional capacity for flood modeling and forecasting, service delivery and sharing of flood information, and mutual cooperation for supporting disaster prevention and flood management. 

The project has upgraded 25 hydromet stations to automatically observe rainfall and water level measurements out of which five are in Pakistan. An additional 13 stations will be upgraded in early 2014 and efforts are underway to bring onboard near real-time data from national and global networks such as the Global Telecommunication System of the WMO. The project has established web-based regional and national flood information systems to share real-time data and information to improve the lead time for taking risk reduction measures. The project is also enhancing the technical capacity of partner organizations on flood forecasting and communication aspects and seeks to enhance public private partnership in disaster risk reduction. 

A new aspect of the meeting was ICIMOD’s efforts to partner with private sector, especially telecommunications service providers, to overcome problems such as sim cards running out of balance and weak signal that causes delay in data transmission. Meetings and discussions with mobile service providers in four partner countries have yielded encouraging responses with an interest to maximize their services and minimize cost of data transmission.