River basin approach demands coordination among multidisciplinary agencies: interview with Prem Paudel, Chief of the Planning Section, DSCWM


Prem Paudel is Chief of the Planning Section, Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. He is also member secretary of the technical committee under the high level committee. Paudel has a PhD in landslide mechanism from Kyushu University in Japan. He has over 36 publications in national and international journals, and has received the Young Scientific Award for scientific contributions to landslide hazard management in the mid-hills of Nepal. Paudel has been in government service for 23 years under the DSCWM, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. 

1. How does river basins management contribute to attaining national development goals, including SDGs in the context of Nepal?

River basins are characterized by typical features where all ecological, environmental, and economic principles are in harmony. Proper management of these principles can support sustainable and effective development through coherent policies and programmes. Major initiatives under the river basin approach include infrastructure development, scientific and sustainable management of natural resources, and building local ownership. 

Hence, the Constitution of Nepal, the Three Year Interim Plan (2073–2076 BS), the Forest Policy 2015, and the Water Resources Policy emphasize the importance and necessity of river basin management. Integrated river basin management can directly contribute to achieving SDGs, mainly Goals 6, 7, and 13 (clean water, energy, and climate change) and ultimately to other associated goals as well.

2. What are the current and future plans for river basin management in Nepal?

The Constitution of Nepal explicitly highlights the importance of river basins, incorporating it in all three tiers of Federal Government viz. Local, Federal and State. The National Development Action Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister recently formed a high level committee under the Chair of Minister of Forests and Soil Conservation, coordinating river basin management activities in the country.  The aim of all government plans, policies, and intervention strategies is to harmonize the basic principles of river basins. A major aim of this committee is to support this harmonization of sectoral policies and programmes to achieve national and international commitments. 

3. What is the modality of this partnership with ICIMOD, and what are the expected outcomes?

Principally, a river basin approach demands coordination among multidisciplinary agencies. ICIMOD has vast experience in integrated river basin management at the national and international levels, mainly in Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Exchanging and scaling up of such generated knowledge and experience can contribute to the strengthening and translating of principles into practice. Some pilot sites can be established to demonstrate these approaches.