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Indus Basin Initiative

Focus Areas

The initiative conducts research and exchanges knowledge on agricultural water and hazard management. It has improved understanding of present and future water availability and use in the basin and improved the resilience of riparian communities in the basin through drought information and early warning about upstream flood situations.

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Its activities seek to ensure increased water, food, and energy security in the Indus Basin to benefit the poor and vulnerable, particularly women and girls. The gender approach adopts two folds: gender integration and gender-focused activities. Gender integration is built into activities related to water management and community-based early warning systems.

The initiative is gender-focused and implemented through action research on women’s empowerment through social entrepreneurship. A gender network has been established at basin scale to influence decision-making for gender and social equity. The initiative has launched a water management package of practice and established the Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN), several community based flood early warning systems (CBFEWS), a drought monitoring system, and a flood outlook in Chenab in collaboration with the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD).

  • Innovative water and hazard management package of practices
  • Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN)
  • Community-based flood early warning systems (CBFEWS)
  • Indus flood outlook
  • Drought Monitoring System
  • Gender focused Action Research in Indus Basin

Innovative Water and Hazard Management Package of Practices

indus innovative water and hazard mgmtThe initiative has sought alternatives to glacier melt-dependent irrigation, leveraging local partner expertise in agricultural water and hazard management and research. In Morkhun and Popdon (Passu), apple orchards have been established in previously uncultivated land using drip irrigation and mulching enabled by solar lift irrigation sourcing water from the Hunza and Simsal rivers. Future sites will integrate orchards, and vegetable and fodder cultivation. Hydro ram pumps will lift water and a drip system will be used to irrigate fields. A women’s group in Passu has demonstrated sea buckthorn as a riverbank erosion control measure with income generation potential.

Key Achievements

  • Designed and implemented a package of practices for improved livelihoods in the Upper Indus Basin through agricultural water, energy, and hazard management at two sites in Gilgit-Baltistan. Two more sites were added in 2017.
  • Implemented packages of practices through a strong consortium of national partners by involving local communities. Consortium partners include World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GB-DMA), Gilgit-Baltistan Forest Wildlife & Environmental Department (GB-FWED), Mountain Agriculture Research Centre (MARC), Karakoram International University (KIU), and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH).
  • Ensured commitment from high-level dignitaries to scale up learning from pilot interventions through relevant policy and strategy formulations. This commitment was received in mid 2018 during a high-level policy roundtable and field visit attended by dignitaries including the Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan and the First Secretary. The Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (ICIMOD’s nodal ministry in Pakistan), and federal government department heads were among those attending.
  • Introduced an innovative approach to controlling erosion of barren land: The women’s group of Passu village in the UIB has planted 5,000 sea buckthorn saplings along a previously eroded stretch of land. Sea buckthorn plants control erosion and have land-stabilizing properties. Sea buckthorn branches can be used as fuel wood and its berries have medicinal properties. The plant can hence provide women a livelihood source. The women of Passu have demonstrated exemplary capability in handling finances and providing rigorous labour services. They managed the funds to purchase and transplant saplings, and made provisions for irrigation and carrying water up embankments to irrigate the bushes. The next step will be to monitor and maintain the planting site by replacing dead plants with new plants.
     

Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN)

The UIBN promotes coordination and collaboration among organizations working in the Upper Indus Basin to improve understanding of present and future water availability, demand, and hazards and develop solutions for various stakeholders from the local to the national level. It is instrumental in exchanging knowledge generated in the UIB through meetings, international conferences, and the Indus Basin Knowledge Forum.

Community-based Flood Early Warning Systems (CBFEWS)

CBFEWS seek to alleviate community vulnerability and strengthen the capacity of communities to deal with upcoming floods. Two CBFEWS have been established—in Sherqilla, a village in Punial Valley of Ghizar, a district in Gilgit-Baltistan and in Dammas—to disseminate flash flood debris flow warnings.

Key Achievements

  • Established CBFEWS in flood-prone areas in Gilgit-Baltistan. The system saved livestock and property during the August 2017 flood in Sherqilla.
  • Gained the notice of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Gilgit- Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA). Both authorities have acknowledged the efforts of WWF, AKAH and ICIMOD.
  • Influenced scaling up of CBFEWS. Following the success of the system in Sherqilla in saving lives in the 2017 monsoons,  partners WWF Pakistan, the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), and the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Pakistan have initiated scaling up of CBFEWS in river tributaries—two in Gilgit-Baltistan and one in Chitral.
  • Community-Based Early Warning System with Telemetry, a resource manual up for publication in 2018, has been revised from a gender and social mobilization perspective. A gendered lens assessing risk and vulnerability has been incorporated to consider communities as heterogeneous groups, and recognize that hazards, vulnerabilities, and capacities are shaped by physical location and resources as well as social norms, values, and power relations. Gender and social analysis are an integral part of risk, vulnerability, and capacity assessment for social mobilization.
  • Representatives from GBDMA and WWF Pakistan, and community members from Shigar and Ghanche were trained to independently install, operate, and maintain CBFEWS instruments and implement CBFEWS using its four elements.

 

Indus Flood Outlook

The Chenab flood outlook is being jointly developed by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and ICIMOD. Data preparation, the first step towards developing the flood outlook model, has begun. A week-long interaction at the Flood Forecasting Division, Lahore in November 2017 familiarized PMD with the flood outlook model and the development process, and reinforced ICIMOD’s understanding of the operational flood forecasting models of PMD. The Chenab sub-basins have been delineated. Data is being prepared for the joint development of the flood outlook model.

Drought Monitoring System

PMD, in collaboration with ICIMOD’s SERVIR HKH programme and the Indus Basin Initiative, is seeking to support the National Drought Monitoring Center (NDMC) with a drought monitoring service and an information dissemination system by capitalizing on earth observation data. Initial product design documents and field level study plans have been developed. Integration of efforts at regional scale are planned through the South Asian Land Data Assimilation System (SALDAS) and its components. Products generated through SALDAS will be contextualized per national needs, including local level validation, calibration, building and customizing information systems according to local crop calendars.

Gender focused Action Research: Empowering Women through Social Entrepreneurship

In collaboration with the SEPLAA Foundation in Pakistan, an action-based research project will identify the social entrepreneurship model approach that contributes towards gendered solutions to address the adverse impacts of climate change on the water-food-energy nexus. This model will either provide a solution to a particular problem or contribute to solutions to the problem and improve women’s decision-making roles at the household and community levels, leading towards gender equitable community resilience. The research explore the effectiveness of these models of social entrepreneurship in creating sustainable green solutions and addressing gender inequalities.

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1. 2. 3. Photos on the Indus Basin Initiative and its activities

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