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29 Mar 2016 | Gender in Koshi

Mainstreaming Gender and Livelihoods into Water Management

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Linking livelihoods and gender issues in the Koshi river basin can improve water resource management, was the key message of the regional ‘Water-livelihoods-gender nexus’, workshop 24-25 March in Kathmandu hosted by the International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) Koshi Basin Programme (KBP). Over 70 participants including government officials, academic scholars, gender, livelihood and water experts participated.

ICIMOD’s Director General David Molden explained the increasing pressures on water resources of the Koshi basin and the need for an integrated approach mainstreaming livelihoods and especially gender.

‘The Hindu Kush Himalayas are transforming rapidly and we have to change our thinking’, Molden said in his opening remarks.

The regional workshop created a useful platform for professionals with expertise in various sectors of water-related issues to share knowledge through a series of technical presentations and group interactions. Most sessions highlighted gender equality and social inclusion with regard to water resource management and improving livelihoods resilience. Issue specific discussions focused on better roles of marginalised farmers and women in irrigation as well as sustainable intensification of staple crops, low cost livelihood technologies, and training for women farmers in addition to several key discussions. Issues discussed were equally significant in all three countries including China, India and Nepal, all of whom border the Koshi basin.

ICIMOD’s Eklabya Sharma said knowledge was key for policy uptake and whatever  experts do on a higher level ultimately affects farmers on a ground level.

‘The basin’s transboundary management forges a strong link between the three countries and farmers should be linked with their science’, Sharma said.

ICIMOD’s partner HELVETAS (Swiss Intercooperation) provided good examples of how ground-level knowledge has changed the way water resources are managed through water use master plans and enhanced the linkage between the upstream and downstream communities.

KBP’s coordinator Shahriar Wahid added that such competent and improved knowledge would have direct impact on women farmers.  Knowledge such as this is needed specifically on ground water-energy nexus, land reform, crop and livelihood diversification, farmer-managed irrigation system, riverbed farming, and climate change impact on local farmers, and translating science into policy.

Wahid said having more gender-equity discussions, especially on decision making, economic empowerment and capacity development in new agricultural technologies, was important to improving water resource management.

The event was a result of combined efforts of the Nepal government, ICIMOD and its key partners actively engaged in KBP initiative.

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