For scientists and researchers working on transboundary issues across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, finding data that does not stop at borders can be a challenge. This is also true for those working on water and livelihood-related projects in the Koshi River basin, a region that covers parts of China, India, and Nepal. From the beginning of ICIMOD’s Koshi Basin Programme, a goal was to create a knowledge base that incorporates data generated by the programme and its partners, one that promotes information sharing and takes into account the perspective of the entire basin, beyond the confines of borders.
The result of this effort is the Koshi Basin Information System (KBIS), a web-based platform that launched in June 2014 and currently sees more than 200 unique visits per month. The system brings together a wide range of upto-date information on climate change and variability, water and agriculture, socioeconomic dynamics, and disaster through satellite maps and vector imaging, tables, and graphs. The compiled information includes data from ICIMOD publications, partner-provided field and monitoring data, and data from open sources such as the US Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, and more.
Unlike many other resources available, KBIS allows researchers to choose a combination of different parameters – for instance, the percentage of irrigated land with the amount of annual soil loss. These parameters are then mapped over each other, a feature meant to aid in innovative analysis and new ways of seeing.
“The KBIS is a wonderful set up”, said Rajiv Sinha, head of the Department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. “We have used it to look at data related to our project such as rainfall, land use and land cover, and drainage maps.” He is currently partnering with the Koshi Basin Programme for a transboundary research project on sediment in the Koshi basin and its relationship with rivers and floods, and has made active use of the information provided by KBIS.
Other partners, too, have found that the system aids them in their Koshi-related work. Hu Guisheng and Jiang Liguang, both researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, noted that KBIS has helped them to get basic data about the Koshi basin and to compare data with other available sources.
The aim of this platform is to make Koshi-related information available not just to the programme’s partners, but to the wider public as well. With this in mind, the platform developers created a mobile app that allows users to access KBIS from anywhere, including the field. The app was launched in the summer of 2015, and brings the best features of KBIS and its related components to mobile phones, including a daily-updated regional flood outlook that gives vital information on the condition of the region’s rivers. The hope is that the platform will continue to improve based on user feedback, and become an important resource for anyone who is looking for, up-to-date, reliable, scientific information on the Koshi basin.