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The Hindu Kush Himalaya is the pulse of the planet. Being at the top of the world, changes happen here before they happen anywhere else and the beat of this place vibrates across the globe. We are ICIMOD. Together with our partners, we protect the pulse.
The ICIMOD family has been working from home since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the deluge of news about the virus and its impacts across the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, we have also been witnessing rain – and lots of it. April and May are normally dry, but here in Kathmandu we had an unusually wet pre-monsoon period, and monsoon has brought torrential and unceasing rain.
In many ways this has been a blessing. The skies look beautiful and clear, peppered with soaring clouds, and we are treated to occasional glimpses of the snowy Himalaya. We are surrounded by lush greenery, biodiverse forests, and beautiful, productive agricultural fields. But the rainy season also spells danger, especially during intense heavy rainfall events.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in the HKH and compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities already impacted by climate change.
The stories in this annual report provide a summary of our accomplishments over the last year. They showcase key aspects of our work on multiple fronts – from working with communities, engaging policymakers, acilitating regional…
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The comprehensive baseline information on the glaciers of the HKH region was generated semi-automatically using more than 200 Landsat 7 ETM+ images of 2005 ± 3 years with minimum cloud and snow coverage. The glacier outlines were derived by using object-based image classification method separately for clean-ice and debris-covered glaciers with some manual intervention. The attribute data were assigned to each glacier using 90m resolution SRTM DEM. This data does not cover the China part.
The stories in this annual report provide a summary of our accomplishments over the last year. They showcase key aspects of our work on multiple fronts – from working with communities, engaging policymakers, facilitating regional cooperation, promoting gender and social inclusion, and generating new knowledge and building capacity – to create positive change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in the HKH and compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities already impacted by climate change. However, it also presents an opportunity for concrete actions toward the transformation necessary for a more resilient and inclusive HKH. In this comprehensive policy paper, we assess the impacts of the pandemic, the risks and vulnerabilities, and provide policy responses and actions required for countries and more robust regional and international cooperation for the mountains.
This Working Paper compiles the experiences and lessons learnt from specific adaptation pilot interventions under the Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE) Research on Glacier and Snowpack Dependent River Basins for Improving Livelihoods.
The Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) Initiative conducted an institutional capacity building training on climate change and its impacts on the Kabul River basin from 6 to 16 November 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Water scarcity has been cited as a major problem in Afghanistan. The issue is intricate and involves questions of availability, accessibility, affordability, and safety. Afghanistan’s 2009 Water Law grants equitable right to water to all, but not everybody enjoys this right equally. The division of labour in conservative, rural areas is rigid, constituting several barriers to the equal participation of Afghan women.
This training manual is based on existing literature on the Analytic Hierarchy Process and is set within the Government of Nepal’s National Framework on Local Adaptation Plans for Action. It aims to support adaptation decision makers in government institutions, international agencies, and civil society institutions as well as other development partners in identifying and prioritizing adaptation solutions at the national and sub-national levels.
Chitale, VS; Murthy, MSR; Gilani, H; Ghate, R (2020). ‘Understanding socio-ecological drivers of fuelwood dynamics and their impact in Churia hills of Nepal.’ In Tropical Ecology 61: 76-83 DOI: 10.1007/s42965-020-00069-7.
We propose an innovative approach of coupling socio-ecological attributes in Kayarkhola watershed in Churia hills, Nepal, using remote-sensing datasets and field observations to understand the patterns of fuelwood dynamics. Using multi-temporal moderate resolution satellite datasets, we analyse the patterns of land use and land cover change from 1990 to 2010 and assessed the effectiveness of community forestry management. We observed low forest loss in community forests in comparison with those falling outside community forests. We conclude that family size, income levels, and illiteracy are the most significant individual factors. The scenarios developed in this study can be extrapolated in different landscapes to quantify the fuelwood dynamics, which will help in better forest cover management and conservation.
Gupta, N; Tiwari, V; Everard, M; Savage, M; Hussain, SA; Chadwick, MA; Johnson, JA; Nawab, A; Belwal, VK (2020). ‘Assessing the distribution pattern of otters in four rivers of the Indian Himalayan biodiversity hotspot, 2020.’ In Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 30: 601-610 DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3284.
Hamal, K; Sharma, S; Khadka, N; Baniya, B; Ali, M; Shrestha, MS; Xu, T; Shrestha, D; Dawadi, B (2020). ‘Evaluation of MERRA-2 precipitation products using gauge observation in Nepal, 2020.’ In Hydrology 7: 40.
Immerzeel, WW; Lutz, AF; Andrade, M; Bahl, A; Biemans, H; Bolch, T; Hyde, S; Brumby, S; Davies, BJ; Elmore, AC; Emmer, A; Feng, M; Fernández, A; Haritashya, U; Kargel, JS; Koppes, M; Kraaijenbrink, PDA; Kulkarni, AV; Mayewski, PA; Nepal, S; Pacheco, P; Painter, TH; Pellicciotti, F; Rajaram, H; Rupper, S; Sinisalo, A; Shrestha, AB; Viviroli, D; Wada, Y; Xiao, C; Yao, T; Baillie, JEM (2020). ‘Importance and vulnerability of the world’s water towers.’ In Nature 577: 364-369 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1822-y.
Mountains are the water towers of the world. They are highly sensitive and prone to climate change, yet their importance and vulnerability have not been quantified at the global scale. We present a global water tower index, which ranks all water towers in terms of their water-supplying role and the downstream dependence of ecosystems and society. We assess each water tower’s vulnerability related to water stress, governance, hydropolitical tension, and future climatic and socioeconomic changes. We conclude that the most important water towers are also among the most vulnerable, and that climatic and socioeconomic changes will affect them profoundly. Immediate action is required to safeguard the future of the world’s most important and vulnerable water towers.
KC, B; Mahapatra, PS; Thakker, D; Henry, AP; Billington, CK; Sayers, I; Puppala, SP; Hall, IP (2020). ‘Proinflammatory effects in Ex Vivo human lung tissue of respirable smoke extracts from indoor cooking in Nepal.’ In Annals of the American Thoracic Society 17: 688-698 DOI: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201911-827OC.
Rasul, G; Pasakhala, B; Mishra, A; Pant, S (2020). ‘Adaptation to mountain cryosphere change: issues and challenges.’ In Climate and Development 12: 297-309 DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2019.1617099.
The cryosphere provides multiple services to society, but mountain cryosphere is shrinking at an alarming rate worldwide due to climate change. Adaptation to cryosphere change is essential to avoid irreversible damage. We synthesize adaptation actions currently practised in the mountain ranges of the Andes, Alps, Pamir, Tien Shan, and Himalaya in response to cryosphere change; discuss common constraints; and suggest actions for creating an enabling environment for adaptation. It identifies various adaptation measures adopted by different actors. However, most adaptation measures are autonomous, narrowly focused and short term, without adequate planning and government support. Further research is needed to better understand factors influencing adaptation actions, and the policy options and responses that can overcome existing barriers.
Thorn, JPR; Klein, JA; Steger, C; Hopping, KA; Capitani, C; Tucker, CM; Nolin, AW; Reid, RS; Seidl, R; Chitale, VS; Marchant, R (2020). ‘A systematic review of participatory scenario planning to envision lountain social-ecological systems futures.’ In Ecology and Society 25 DOI: 10.5751/ES-11608-250306.