Koshi Basin Initiative


The Koshi River basin contains a rich biodiversity and is a source of valuable ecosystem services that sustain the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in China, India, and Nepal.


The basin plays a key role in the irrigation of downstream areas and has a large potential for hydropower development. However, the basin is highly prone to erosion, sedimentation, and natural hazards, which may increase in magnitude and frequency in the current context of climate change, and increasing population, urbanization, and encroachment have added additional pressures on the basin’s freshwater ecosystems. Poor mountain women and men are often the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the least able to adapt and respond to rapid changes.

With support from the Australian Government, ICIMOD has initiated the Koshi Basin Initiative (KBI) to enhance the regionally coordinated management of the Koshi basin for the improved wellbeing of local communities and sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services. The KBP aims to contribute to inclusive poverty reduction in the Koshi basin by evaluating the range of possible water-related development pathways through evidence-based decision making and basin-wide cooperation considering climate change, hazards, and the provision of sustainable freshwater ecosystem services. The KBP will approach river basin management through a mix of policy-relevant scientific, economic, social, and ecological knowledge and decision support to promote the sustainable use of transboundary water resources and develop ‘win-win’ solutions that can be supported by all countries. Particular focus will be given to issues of gender and inequality and their linkages to drivers of change and river basin management, as well as to the potential of employing incentive-based mechanisms to improve water use efficiency and productivity.

Working closely with partners in the field, a basin-wide assessment will be conducted in 2013 to gather baseline information on basic indicators related to household water demand and use; livelihood, agricultural, and natural resource management strategies; the needs and uses of climate, water, and agricultural-related information; and current risk management and adaptation practices.

  • Support evidence-based policy interventions through the development of knowledge on how climatic and socioeconomic drivers effect ecosystem services and the livelihoods of dependent populations
  • Develop and test actionable and appropriate adaptation pilots and livelihood strategies to address the increasing impacts of change on ecosystem goods and services at local, national and regional scales
  • Contribute to developing an enabling environment for policy and decision makers to create integrated, innovative, equitable, inclusive, and effective responses to protect and manage river basin ecosystems and to reduce poverty in the frame of integrated natural resources management and improved basin-wide cooperation

01 June 2012 – June 2020

Geographical coverage

The areal extent of the Koshi River basin in China, India, and Nepal

Financial support

Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) (Australian Aid)