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4 Aug 2022 | Koshi Basin Initiative

Strengthening capacity for disaster risk reduction and management in the hydropower sector

Training shows how to apply global hydro-meteorological monitoring and forecasting information for hydro cascades

Nisha Wagle

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It is crucial to explore existing data and information systems in order to implement disaster risk reduction in the hydropower sector (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

The Hydropower Transboundary Working Group (TWG) under the Koshi Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Hub (KDKH) focuses on assessing multi-hazard vulnerability and risks in the hydropower sector. The TWG organised a virtual training to strengthen capacity in disaster risk reduction planning for hydropower projects through theoretical concepts of multi-disaster risk and demonstration of case studies and hands-on exercises for the application of global hydro-meteorological monitoring and forecasting information. The training also covered management discourses in the hydropower sector and introduced advanced monitoring and forecasting systems for hydro cascades.

Forty-three participants (including nine women) from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan working in the areas of water resources, hydropower, and disaster risk management attended the training. Participants learned about the importance of exploring existing data and information systems to implement disaster risk reduction in the hydropower sector. They agreed that advanced monitoring and forecasting systems are necessary to ensure that hydropower development is adaptive towards climate change impacts.

Hydropower development projects have been increasingly exploring more remote areas and steep rivers, which are prone to multi-hazards amplified by climate change, as evidenced by the Chamoli and Melamchi events (both of which occurred in 2021). Hence, effective risk management through mitigation strategies is important. For this, hazard monitoring and data sharing (real time and near real time) are essential.


The training

The first day of the training focused on data requirements and globally available data through the demonstration of several globally available near real time and real time data and forecasts in hydrometeorology such as Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), MODIS, and Sentinel data, and how they can be extracted. This was followed by a hands-on exercise using the freely available software – QGIS. The session also stressed the importance of developing event registers/cadasters for the systematic collection of information on the hazard type.

The second day focused on customising the global data/information system in a basin of interest, with example from a pilot monitoring system for the Arun basin. The trainers demonstrated the pilot monitoring system for hydro-meteorological monitoring and forecasting. This system included GPM, Global Forecast System and MODIS, and Sentinel images, where the required analysis (e.g. maps, trend analyses) could be conducted in the system itself. The potential users of this system are hydropower developers, Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, and other stakeholders.

The last day included a hands-on training session on the advanced monitoring and forecasting system for hydro cascades. The session helped build understanding of different data products, with exercises on the comparison of precipitation data with globally available data. The trainers also demonstrated how GPM data provides a good indication of the general weather situation. GPM data are too coarse and unreliable in mountainous areas, while NWP models (GFS, ECMWF) are useful for large basins with moderate topography. In the case of cascade hydropower projects, for cascade optimisation, floods, sediment management, and peaking, it is essential to have hydrological monitoring system for disaster risk management. In addition, the participants learned about protecting data shared by cascade projects through data-sharing agreements.


About the organisers

The Hydropower TWG is one of eight TWGs under the KDKH. ICIMOD provides secretariat support to the Hydropower TWG, which is led by the Center for Water Resources Studies (CWRS) and Institute of Engineering (IoE). The training was supported by the World Bank, AFRY, and GeoTest.

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