Regional collaboration needed for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in the Koshi basin

27 Apr 2018, ICIMOD Headquarters, Khumaltar, Nepal


Around fifty scientists, decision- makers and practitioners from Nepal and China agreed to establish a knowledge hub to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the Koshi basin. Providing continuity to ongoing discussions on identifying key areas for collaboration in policy, research, and practices, the Koshi Basin Initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Institute of Mountain Hazard and Environment (IMHE) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) conducted a special session to increase regional understanding of water-related disasters and rural livelihood adaptation in the Koshi basin and identify areas for regional collaboration for DRR. The session, “Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk management in the Koshi River Basin” was conducted on April 23 within the larger framework of the “International Conference on Mountain Development in a Context of Global Change with Special Focus on the Himalayas”, held from 21–26 April 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

ICIMOD, IMHE, and their partners shared information on research work in DRR and livelihood adaptation in the Koshi basin. Participants deliberated upon past efforts, progress, gaps, and ways forward to strengthen regional collaboration on DRR and sustainable livelihoods. Basanta Raj Shrestha, Director of Strategic Cooperation at ICIMOD, reiterated the need to strengthen DRR in the basin by taking successful pilots to policy and implementation levels while leveraging institutional and governmental support from all three basin countries.  

Professor Yiping Fang, IMHE, emphasized the need to respond to the varied landscapes, cultures, and institutional support possibilities within and between the three basin countries. He said that the time was right to move from dialogue to action. Basanta Adhikari, from Institute of Engineering Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu echoed the sentiment: the three countries should work together for the disaster management by developing common methodology that is understandable to all and by involving all other relevant stakeholders. Highlighting the way ahead Mandira Singh Shrestha, Programme Coordinator, HI-RISK, ICIMOD said: The proposed DRR Knowledge Hub, common to all three Koshi Basin countries, can help us respond to challenges posed by the HKH’s multi hazard environment, increasingly prone to disasters. Transboundary cooperation is a must for this.

The transboundary Koshi basin is home to more than 40 million people who depend on its rich natural resources. It is also a multi-hazard environment, one of many in the HKH, where floods, landslides, and droughts affect millions of people every year, and disrupt sustainable development. Although there have been efforts to improve DRR in the Koshi Basin, DRR policies and practices often lack a multi-hazard risk assessment. Additionally, stakeholders are often unable to capitalize on the knowledge and capacities presented by the transboundary nature of disasters. Upstream-downstream linkages in the Koshi Basin can be a basis for shared disasters and provide opportunities for DRR and livelihood improvement. Institutions and stakeholders could collaborate to adopt a standardized, multi-hazard risk assessment approach. Extensive and effective cooperation can be achieved by sharing knowledge and fostering practices that address the trans-boundary scale of disaster.