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Indus Basin Initiative

Initiative background

The HKH region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east.

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The Indus River

The HKH region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. It is the source of 10 large Asian river systems, including the Indus. The HKH provide water and other ecosystem services, and are the basis of the livelihoods of 240 million people in the region. Improved water resource management in mountain areas is essential for the sustainable development of the region and downstream countries.

More about the Indus river:

  • Originates at Lake Ngangla Ring Tsho in the Tibetan Plateau
  • Supports about 268.42 million people
  • Is the main source of water for agriculture, energy production, industrial use, and human consumption
  • Is densely populated (257 people/km²) and has an approximate water availability of 1,329 m3 per head (2011)
  • Irrigates 33 million hectares of agricultural land in the basin through 15 tributaries
    • The Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers in India
    • The Swat, Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza, Shigar, Shyok, Indus, Shingo, Astor, Jhelum, and Chenab rivers in Pakistan
    • Kabul River in Afghanistan
  • Has an estimated hydropower potential of 100,000 MW, of which around 18% has been developed.

 

What is the Indus Initiative?

Despite the importance of the Indus Basin, knowledge on the spatial and temporal aspects of water balance in the basin and the HKH region is inadequate. Rainfall—as short-term provider of runoff—and melting snow, and seasonal and melting ice—as long-term inputs to run-off—are theoretically well understood.

However, knowledge of the seasonal patterns of rainfall, spatial dynamics of seasonal snow cover, and the overall volume of the ice-reservoir (including permafrost) in the HKH is heterogeneous, with only some areas well documented. An overall, reliable climate sensitive water-balance model for the Upper Indus Basin is yet to be developed. The Indus Initiative seeks to contribute to increasing understanding of these and other issues.

 

WHY WORK IN THE INDUS BASIN?

Changing climate and water patterns and their impact on those living in the Indus Basin

The goal is to improve understanding of the impact of climate change and associated changes in the cryospheric and cryo-hydrological regimes to support research institutions, governments, and civil society organizations to develop better adaptation strategies and, in turn, underpin strategic thinking and interventions for enhanced community resilience in the Indus Basin.

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Objectives
  • To build resilience to climate change impacts by improving understanding of past and future climate trends.
  • To improve understanding of the impact of climate change and associated changes in the cryosphere and the cryo-hydrological regimes.
  • To improve understanding of the impact of hydrological change on the agricultural and socio-economic conditions of vulnerable downstream populations.
  • To support the development of better strategies as well as gender sensitive policies and adaptation options.
  • To support strategic thinking and interventions that lead to enhanced community resilience in the Indus River Basin.

 

What We Do

Core Principles

  • Develop basis and mechanisms for regional cooperation through which to build regional dialogue, improve communication, and conduct advocacy.
    Sub-activities include:-

    • Generate and cross-share scientific knowledge for diplomacy, policy, and regional cooperation.
    • Enhance the Indus Regional Flood Information System (RFIS) and the Indus Basin Flood Outlook for regional cooperation in flood management.
    • Strengthen Regional Science Network in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB).
    • Establish and enhance gender resources and networks.
  • Create and use critical new knowledge and integrated knowledge products to address food, water, energy, and climate change issues for upstream and downstream basin populations.
    Sub-activities include:

    • Improve basin monitoring and scenario projections.
    • Develop scenarios and projections to determine water availability.
    • Innovate gender sensitive solutions related to water, energy, and food.
  • Promote best practices, capacity development, and innovations to create an enabling environment.
    Sub-activities include:

    • Test and promote innovations on agricultural water management as alternatives to existing cryosphere-dependent irrigation systems that are vulnerable to climate change to strengthen adaptive capacities at the community level.
    • Enhance awareness and adaptive capacities of communities in disaster preparedness through low-cost and innovative community-based early warning system (CBFEWS) demonstrations.
    • Enhance the capacity of national departments—on assessment and management of water resources—through Spatial Processes in Hydrology (SPHY) model trainings.

 

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