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9 Jul 2021 | Koshi Basin Initiative

Conserving and restoring water sources

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Efforts to integrate sringshed management into river basin management plans and policies in Nepal

Although springs are the lifeline of communities in Nepal’s mid-hills and provide baseflow to many streams and rivers, springsheds – areas of land that contribute groundwater to the springs – are poorly understood. The management of springs is limited to that of spring outlets; the invisible groundwater flow and groundwater recharge areas that feed the springs are not taken into consideration.

Springshed management interventions that do not consider aquifer and groundwater flow to correctly identify recharge areas cannot effectively restore water flow to replenish drying springs or improve water quality. To address this, we are working with the Department of Forests and Soil Conversation (DoFSC) to help government institutions and line agencies integrate the springshed approach into activities and projects in districts across Nepal.
We organized a 12-day online training on springshed management for water security and resilience, which saw participation from 29 government officials. The DoFSC has acknowledged that there is a need to apply consolidated learnings from the training to ongoing projects and revive drying springs in partnership with communities. Efforts are now being made to integrate a springshed approach to existing watershed and river basin management activities. The first of those is the development of a manual to revive springs in Nepal based on our six-step protocol for reviving springs.

The DoFSC is also exploring ways to update existing (sub)watershed management guidelines, plans, and policies with the integration of springshed management. The wider uptake of the springshed management approach by this key government agency will, in the long term, enable local communities to participate in improving their water supply and water access and ultimately enhance the socio-ecological resilience of mountain communities.

As part of policy actions for a resilient and inclusive recovery in the HKH, there is a need to conserve and restore water sources and recharge areas focusing on monitoring glaciers, restoring springs, springsheds and watersheds, and managing river basins in an integrated manner with a balance on local, transboundary, and upstream and downstream concerns.
(Paraphrased from ICIMOD 2020, COVID-19 impact and policy responses in the Hindu Kush Himalaya)

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