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Upper Indus Basin (UIB) Network is an informal knowledge and research network of national and international researchers working in the upper part of the Indus Basin. It aims to foster coordination researches in climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and vulnerability, and adaptation related issues. The members are from national departments, organizations, universities from Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, and Kathmandu-based regional knowledge centre ICIMOD and other international partners.
The UIB network is currently supported by many organizations in Pakistan including Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), WWF-Gilgit Baltistan and international organizations such as University of Bonn, Ev-K2-CNR, etc. ICIMOD country office in Pakistan hosts as the secretariat.
The network was formed in 2012 through a UIB Monitoring Working Group (MWG) of national and international partners for “Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the UIB”.
The transboundary Indus River basin, shared by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, is ranked among the world’s most significant basins in terms of human dependency on its water resources and agricultural livelihoods. Home to nearly 215 million people, the basin has seven main rivers originating from glaciers and snowfields in the Western Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush, which are sources of irrigation for over 16 million hectares of agricultural land.
The upper Indus basin is composed of mountainous terrains of the Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges. The basin is already water scarce, yet the demand for water continues to grow rapidly putting further stress on the resource owing to rapidly changing demographics and climatic conditions. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problem. While there are more economic activities in the lower part of the basin, climate is likely the major driver of change in the upper high mountain affecting upstream and downstream populations.
Promote coordination and collaboration among organizations working in the upper Indus basin for improved understanding of present and future water availability, demand, and hazards, and to develop solutions for various stakeholders ranging from local to national levels.
The network collaborates with key national networks and forums such as the Indus Forum in Pakistan, which actively promotes in linking evidence-based research with national policy. It shares research findings with national policy makers through various platforms.
In the upper Indus basin, limited studies have been conducted on climate, cryosphere, water, hazards and adaptation. There is a gap on scientific knowledge sharing and coordination between the concerned institutions and professionals.
The UIB Network is chaired by Khalid Mohtadullah, a former senior advisor and country director at International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan, senior advisor to the Global Water Partnership, and senior advisor to ICIMOD.
ICIMOD’s country office in Pakistan functions as the network secretariat which facilitates, and provides logistical support to network members for implementation of UIB action plans. Currently, the network is limited to Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan, and there are plans to expand to Afghanistan, China and India.
The network is guided by a strategic committee, a group of advisors and technical working groups in thematic areas. The strategic committee provides strategic inputs to the different working groups. It communicates with technical working group leads and the members to synergize their work and integrate their scientific knowledge.
The advisors provide advice and technical inputs to UIB network on priority actions. There are six technical working groups, who meet twice a year to update on their progress and discuss on socioeconomic issues and future strategies and actions.
Following are the 10 big questions to be addressed six technical working groups of UIB network.
Arun Bhakta Shrestha
Senior Climate Change Specialist
Madhav Prasad Dhakal