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Last updated on 29 July, 2020

News digest 2020 June

Protect the pulse.

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. 

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Addressing COVID-19 social and environmental impacts in the HKH

We remain very concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 in our HKH region. While the situation is mixed in our ICIMOD countries regarding disease spread, across all of the countries there are concerns about livelihood and environmental impacts from the pandemic.

ICIMOD has prepared a policy document looking at how COVID-19 has impacted and what policies should respond for people and environments in the HKH mountains. The paper has been prepared by staff at ICIMOD from across disciplines and expertise areas, and reviewed by experts in our eight HKH countries.

 

A new high for HKH research: Our partnership with National Geographic Society

In 2019, National Geographic Society (NGS) undertook an expedition to Everest which included ICIMOD among a number of partners. This expedition included work on the highest glacier in world, Khumbu glacier, where ice samples were collected and multiple scientific research projects were conducted.

 

Announcements

COVID-19 impact and policy responses 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.

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ICIMOD Mountain Prize

Deadline: 15 Aug 2020

The ICIMOD Mountain Prize is awarded every year to an individual, organization, or private sector entity based in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) or beyond…

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UPCOMING WEBINAR

Building a resilient Bam-e-Dunya: Untold stories, lessons, and opportunities

Event date: 28 July 2020

Registration deadline: 24 July 2020

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STAFF ARTICLES

The urban poor and the COVID-19 pandemic in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

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STAFF ARTICLES

Preparing for double trouble: Monsoon floods during the pandemic

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STAFF ARTICLES

Air pollution under lockdown in the HKH

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STAFF ARTICLES

Monitoring air quality from space during the COVID-19 pandemic

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STAFF ARTICLES

Our solutions are in nature

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FROM THE DIRECTOR GENERAL

ICIMOD’s work and the COVID-19 crisis

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Featured news/articles

STAFF ARTICLES

The long road to gender equality in Pakistan’s labour force

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STAFF ARTICLES

Biodiversity loss threatens us all

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NEWS

Ice-dammed lake in Hunza created by Shisper Glacier surge breached for the second time in 2020

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STAFF ARTICLES

Mapping floods in Bangladesh caused by Cyclone Amphan to support humanitarian response

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Featured dataset

Wheat sown areas in Afghanistan 2017

Wheat is cultivated on more than 2.7 million hectares in Afghanistan annually, yet the country is dependent on imports to meet domestic demand. The timely estimation of domestic wheat production is highly critical to address any potential food security issues and has been identified as a priority by the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).

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Publications

COVID-19 impact and policy responses 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.

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Regional Drought Monitoring and Outlook System Seasonal outlook May–August 2020

The Regional Drought Monitoring and Outlook System (RDMOS) is an operational service which produces reliable drought indicators for the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region with a specifi c focus on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. The system incorporates climatic models with suitable Earth observation data and land surface models to produce drought indices – precipitation, temperature, soil moisture, and evapotranspiration – and vegetation conditions at 10-day intervals for near real- time monitoring of droughts.

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Upper Indus Basin Network: Promoting science-based regional cooperation, ICIMOD Proceedings

The transboundary Indus River Basin, originating at the lake Ngangla Ring Tsho in the Tibetan plateau and spread across parts of Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, serves about 268 million people as their primary source of water for agriculture, energy production, industrial use, and human consumption.

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Establishing Pir-Yakh Glacier as a benchmark glacier in Kabul basin, Afghanistan, November 2019

Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) is a two-year project supported by the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) – Government of Afghanistan and the Government of Australia, and implemented by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO).

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Proceedings of the consultation meeting on the Gender Resource Group in the Upper Indus Basin Network

In January 2020, ICIMOD conducted a consultation meeting on the Gender Resource Group (GRG) in the Upper Indus Basin Network (UIBN) to discuss possible ways of integrating gender into the UIBN’s work across the larger Indus network to achieve gender-inclusive change.

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Bird-based ecotourism for conservation and sustainable livelihoods: Connecting research with policy and practice in the Far Eastern Himalaya

Harnessing the landscape’s potential for bird-based ecotourism The Landscape Initiative for Far Eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE) – implemented by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and its national partners – aims to scale out such bird-based ecotourism within the landscape’s three member countries – China, India, and Myanmar – and possibly across other Hindu Kush Himalayan countries.

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Proceedings of the workshop on Transboundary Landscapes Regional Programme: Outlook and synergy building for 2020 and beyond

In December 2019, professionals working with ICIMOD’s five Transboundary Landscapes initiatives – currently being implemented across the Hindu Kush Karakoram Pamir, Kailash, Kangchenjunga, and Far-Eastern Himalayan landscapes – came together to share information and lessons learned over the years, and devise ways to tackle challenges common across these HKH landscapes.

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Harnessing the tourism potential of the Far Eastern Himalaya: Putting research to action

ICIMOD and its partners have been conducting research on unlocking this tourism potential in the Indian part of the Far Eastern Himalayan Landscape. The aim is to develop models of sustainable tourism that harness the strengths of the landscape, help communities diversify their livelihoods, and conserve the rich biodiversity.

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Journal articles

Tiwari, VMatin, MAQamer, FM;  Ellenburg, WL;  Bajracharya, B;  Vadrevu, K;  Rushi, BR; Yusafi, W  (2020). ‘Wheat Area Mapping in Afghanistan Based on Optical and Sar Time-Series Images in Google Earth Engine Cloud Environment.’ In Frontiers in Environmental Science 8 DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.00077.

Wheat is cultivated on more than 2.7 million hectares in Afghanistan annually, yet the country is dependent on imports to meet domestic demand. We develop a system for in-season mapping of wheat crop area based on both optical and synthetic aperture radar data to support estimation of wheat cultivated area for management and food security planning. Utilizing a 2010 FAO cropland mask, we map wheat sown area for 2017, integrating decision trees and machine-learning algorithms in the Google Earth Engine cloud platform. Information from provincial crop calendars in addition to training and validation data from field-based surveys, and high-resolution Digitalglobe and Airbus Pleiades images were used for classification and validation. Our approach can be used to generate wheat area maps for other years to aid in food security planning and policy decisions.
 
Delalay, M;  Ziegler, AD;  Shrestha, MS; Gopal, V  (2020). ‘Methodology for Future Flood Assessment in Terms of Economic Damage: Development and Application for a Case Study in Nepal.’ In Journal of Flood Risk Management n/a: e12623  DOI: 10.1111/jfr3.12623.

To address the lack of adequate measures for flood risk reduction in Nepal, we develop a flood risk assessment model for a study area in Sindhupalchok District. The model considers direct and indirect damages that are assigned to four asset categories (hydropower plants, roads, houses, and farmlands) and two scenarios (low-exposure–low-flood and high-exposure–high-flood scenarios). Model results indicate the following: (a) the planned expansion of hydropower plants reflected in the high exposure scenario is responsible for a substantial increase of economic damage compared with the low scenario and (b) for both scenarios, flood damage is largely related to road closures, which result in the loss of income for villagers and the loss of customs revenues. We discuss future work related to model-based flood risk assessments that are needed for flood risk reduction in Nepal.
 
Prabhu, V;  Soni, A;  Madhwal, S;  Gupta, A;  Sundriyal, S;  Shridhar, V;  Sreekanth, V; Mahapatra, PS  (2020). ‘Black Carbon and Biomass Burning Associated High Pollution Episodes Observed at Doon Valley in the Foothills of the Himalayas.’ In Atmospheric Research 243: 105001  DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2020.105001.

We investigate the variation of black carbon mass concentration (BC) and biomass burning generated black carbon mass concentration (BCbb) in Doon Valley from October 2017 to September 2018 using ground-based observations. We present the relationship of BC with meteorological parameters and effect of transport. Using three different case studies we explain the dominant role of local meteorological conditions and effect of long-range transported aerosols impacting the study site in different seasons. We substantiate our results through the aerosol subtypes acquired from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite.