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Understanding springshed management
Koshi Basin Initiative
24 August 2020 to
08 September 2020
Kanchan Shrestha & Sanjeev Bhuchar
Efficient river basin management requires the inclusion of women and men and the marginalized, partnerships among different stakeholders, coordination between horizontal and vertical layers of government, public awareness, and enhanced institutional capacity. The Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) approach is improves coordination of stakeholders at different scales and from different sectors. To advance the IRBM approach, the Government of Nepal has already established river basin management offices for all the major river basins of the country. These new institutional structures aim to bring coordination among relevant stakeholders and institutions for a collective and integrated approach to managing resources.
The mainstreaming of the IRBM approach and its integration into government structures and planning is encouraging for spring revival and springshed management initiatives, since springs directly influence streams, rivers, lakes, and other surface water bodies into which they discharge. Any change in spring hydrology has ramifications on river hydrology. The majority of households in the hills and mountains of Nepal are dependent on springs, which are part of groundwater systems, for their drinking, domestic use, religious rituals, and cultural and agricultural needs.
Many water supply schemes in towns and cities are also connected to springs. Like in other countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, there is increasing evidence of reducing discharge or drying of springs in Nepal. This can be attributed to natural and anthropogenic factors such as variability of rainfall, earthquakes, landslides, infrastructure development, degradation and loss of traditional ponds and wetlands, deforestation and other land use/land cover changes, and lack of spring management systems.
Deterioration of spring water quality is also a growing concern in many places. Depletion of these resources has led to acute water stress among mountain communities, bringing new challenges and hardships especially for women and children, who bear the primary responsibility of fetching water in these areas. Spring revival and springshed management is therefore vital to ensure present and future water security in these regions.
Watershed management programmes in Nepal support spring development activities, mostly through the watershed “ridge-to-valley” approach. Most water conservation programmes in Nepal and elsewhere have been built around the watershed concept, but it does not account for groundwater, which travels from one watershed to another through rock beds that dip towards an adjoining watershed.
The “valley-ridge-valley” approach is an innovative springshed management approach being practised in the Himalayan region for reviving springs. Its design is centred on the concept of a springshed – the unit of land where rain falls (recharge area), accumulates and moves inside the surface (aquifer), and then emerges at discharge points (the spring). This approach identifies spring recharge areas with the help of hydrogeological analyses and social and governance assessments. It also includes women and marginalized groups in participatory roles and decision making, along with multistakeholder and intersectoral collaboration. The approach focuses on enhancing institutional, individual, and community capacity.
This training is part of an ongoing collaboration between Department of Forests and Soil Conservation (DoFSC, Government of Nepal), and Koshi Basin Initiative at ICIMOD on Strengthening IRBM. The training is jointly organized by DoFSC, ICIMOD, and the Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM). It will increase institutional capacity of relevant 29 participants (20 men and 9 women) including staff from DoFSC, Basin Management Centres, Soil Conservation and Watershed Management offices, Forest Research and Training Center, and other government agencies. Prior to the training, participants are expected have a basic understanding of hydrogeological processes, recharge areas, and springshed management, with some experience in interacting on gender, social, and governance aspects.
The training is supported by the Australian Government through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio for South Asia and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
At the end of the training, the participants will:
The training will be conducted virtually through 12 sessions of 2 hours each from 10:00 to 12:00 and seven sessions of 1 hour each from 16:00 to 17:00 on consecutive days (Monday–Friday) through MS Teams.