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15 Feb 2024 | Press releases

Kavrepalanchok municipalities seize initiative in addressing water stress in mid-hills; back community-led solutions to save district’s springs before it’s too late

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With 2023 survey revealing that 20% of springs in Namobuddha have already dried up, municipality takes steps to secure communities’ water supply. (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

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Kathmandu, 15 February: Seven municipalities of Kavrepalanchok have backed a new campaign to revive drying springs and pledged to adopt community-led solutions to address growing water insecurity in the mid-hills.  Namobuddha, Panauti, Dhulikhel and Panchkhaal, and the rural municipalities of Roshi, Bethanchowk, and Temal have signed an agreement with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to roll out an innovative Nature based Solution (NbS) to water stress.

There are an estimated nine million springs in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region which serve as a critical water source for some 100 million people and countless life-forms. However, springs are disappearing across the HKH due to climate change, overextraction of groundwater, and land cover and land use change, exacerbated by road constructions leading to erosion and rock instability.

A 2023 survey of 444 springs in Namobuddha Municipality in 2023 revealed that nearly 20 percent (93 springs) had dried up, and many others were reporting a decline in water discharge.

The commitment by the local governments builds on successful spring revival pilots run by ICIMOD across the HKH. Water experts hope the landmark agreement will inspire other municipalities in Nepal and across the region, where water stress is already at critical level particularly during lean seasons, to adopt springshed management in their budgets and plans.

“The disappearance of springs across the Hindu Kush Himalayas is a silent disaster,” said Sanjeev Bhuchar, Intervention Manager of the Springs programme at ICIMOD, “hitting families’ freshwater sources hard. But until now the issue has not received enough attention, or investment. It is vital we change that – to ensure mountain communities have continued access to drinking water, water for livestock and crops; and to prevent distress migration and even water conflicts.

“The good news is that it is possible to bring springs back – to the huge benefit of communities across the mountains, and especially for women and adolescent girls, who bear an unequal burden of provisioning water for the household. We are delighted that municipalities in Kavre are taking this leadership role in sustaining water sources in the hills.”

Under the agreement ICIMOD will help municipalities undertake an inventory of springs in their area, with details of their location and status, implement recharge interventions based on a study of the hydrogeology, and validate estimates of improved spring flows and water quality, and additional biodiversity and climate co-benefits. The analysis is designed to also demonstrate a workable model that can be replicated in other areas where springs are drying up.

Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD said: “All our eight member countries have cited water insecurity and its impact on people, livelihoods and biodiversity, as a major concern, which is why we now have it as such a major focus of our work. I’m delighted to see these municipalities take the leap in deploying these crucial, socially inclusive and gender-responsive solutions to address and prevent further water stress in the region.”

ICIMOD’s Springs workstream is part of the Himalayan Resilience Enabling Action Programme (HI-REAP), supported by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Government of the United Kingdom under their Climate Action for Resilient Asia (CARA) initiative, with co-financing from Frank Water, a social enterprise working on alleviating global water poverty. It builds upon pilot interventions initiated as part of ICIMOD’s Resilient Mountain Solutions Initiative supported by the Governments of Norway and Sweden. HI-REAP is helping to build this coalition of partners to scale these solutions bringing local government, communities, and private sectors together.

Speaking at the event, Kunsang Lama, the mayor of Namobuddha municipality, emphasised, “I urge all seven municipalities to join hands and unite in reviving the drying springs within our district.” The municipal mayors have pledged funds and resources to ensure Kavre grows into a learning hub for springshed management.

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