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KEY AREAS OF WORK
Implement gender-responsive interventions around spring revival and management in the HKH and influence policy uptake
Ensuring water security and enhancing climate resilience
Access to safe, affordable, and sufficient water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene is a growing concern for residents in the middle mountain watersheds of the HKH region. The situation is getting worse because many springs, which are the primary source of water in the mid-hills, are either drying up or their discharge is decreasing.
In Fulbari village of Namobuddha Municipality in Kavre district (Nepal), many springs have dried up, placing grave stress on the local population. Field studies conducted under the Resilient Mountain Solutions (RMS) initiative in June 2019 showed that out of 50 springs surveyed within a small area of 4.44 sq. km, only 28 were running, while 22 had completely dried up. Other studies from the HKH region paint a similar picture. The pressure from depleting springs is increasing the hardship of the local population, especially women and children, who bear the primary responsibility of fetching water for household use; this is also increasing the vulnerability of poor and marginalized communities.
The springs in Fulbari and other places in the mid-hills of the HKH are drying up due to both natural and anthropogenic factors; these include: erratic and high-intensity rainfall; longer dry spells; earthquakes; land-use change leading to reduced infiltration; road and infrastructure construction; degradation of traditional ponds; groundwater extraction through pumps; and lack of proper management systems.
We have integrated springshed management into the “package of solutions” that offer resilience-building measures to the rural communities. The springshed management process, aimed at the overall revival of springs, is based on a six-step protocol developed by us and our partners; this involves detailed research and implementation methodologies, including the application of participatory science, for preparing a spring inventory; it also involves: hydrogeological assessments; the understanding of social, gender, and governance aspects; springshed management; and hydrological and socio-economic impact assessments for evidence-seeking and informed decision-making for scaling up springshed management.
We are implementing these springshed management activities with active support from the local communities and the local government, which is vital for the sustainability of such interventions and for the mainstreaming of springshed management in local climate-resilience plans. We are also gearing these activities towards increasing women’s participation, especially in decision-making roles, and towards building their technical capacities. The implementation process and the lessons learnt in Fulbari are also being systematically documented in order to be shared widely at all scales – local, national, regional, and global.