Indus Basin Initiative

Focus areas

Climate change adaptation

Communities in the Indus basin are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Their lives and livelihoods are increasingly threatened by water shortage and water-induced hazards such as floods. We help them cope with these problems by building hazard warning systems and promoting energy-efficient technologies.

Climate change adaptation

The Community-Based Flood Early Warning System (CBFEWS) consists of simple, cost-effective tools and plans for detecting and responding to flood emergencies. A key feature of the system is that it is primarily managed by the local community. Most recently, we installed the system in five different sites in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region of Pakistan. This intervention has helped communities prepare for floods and minimize damage. To ensure long-term sustainability and local ownership of the systems, we handed them over to the Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA). We are now working with GBDMA to integrate the CBFEWS approach into its disaster management plan.

Glaciers are highly sensitive climate indicators and play a critical role in water balance. Monitoring the characteristics and fluctuations of glaciers is important to understanding the effects of climate change. When piloting our flood early warning systems, we regularly monitored the Passu, Ghulkin, and Gulmit glaciers in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. We collected data on glacier behaviour, assessed the risk of downstream glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), and trained the community to respond to GLOF events. We also supported the Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in installing two automatic weather stations and one hydrological station in Gilgit-Baltistan. Our partners, PMD and WAPDA continue the glacier-monitoring activities.

For better management of agriculture water, we promote alternative energy systems for irrigation. These include solar pumps/hydraulic ram pumps, uphill water tanks, and gravity-fed drip irrigation systems. Solar pumps and hydro-ram pumps are inexpensive, easy to operate, and work well even in streams with high sediment or salt concentrations. They are thus ideal for meeting the irrigation needs of poor mountain farmers. As a pilot intervention, we installed these irrigation systems in Morkhoon, Passu, Khyber, Hussaini, and Gulkhin villages of Upper Gojal in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. These systems have helped increase agricultural productivity and improved the livelihood base of local communities. Our partners in this project include the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Mountain Agriculture Research Centre (MARC), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan.

The table below shows the number of beneficiaries from the different WRM packages with support from WWF-Pakistan, UNDP, and the federal government of Pakistan.

Project details Pilot interventions through WWF-Pakistan Scaling out by WWF-Pakistan under UNDP Scaling up by the federal government
Package 1 hydro ram pump 2 solar pumps 2 off-season vegetable farming tunnels 30 hydro ram pumps in 11 villages 30 solar pumps in 13 villages 20 tunnels in 18 villages 50 hydro ram pumps in 10 districts (bigger flow pump) 150 solar pumps in 10 districts (bigger SPIS)
Beneficiaries 150 households 359 households 276 households 400 households 650 households 200 households Data unavailable
Related reading
  1. Hydraulic Ram Pump assisted river water lifting and application of stored water through drip irrigation for alley cropping [Pakistan]
  2. Solar Power Water Lifting and Application to Orchard through Drip Irrigation [Pakistan]
  3. Agricultural water management challenges in the Hunza River Basin: Is a solar water pump an alternative option?
  4. An Innovative Approach to Agricultural Water Management in the Upper Indus Basin; The Water-Energy-Food Nexus at the Local Level