100 million people and countless life forms depend on the Hindu Kush Himalayas’ nine million springs.

But these springs are in crisis. Across the region, families are seeing their crucial sources of freshwater run dry. Lack of freshwater poses a huge threat to human health, jobs, and nature in the mountains.

Climate change and human activities are endangering our springs. We can act to revive them—but we must act now.


  • In the Indian Himalayas, since the 1990s, nearly half of 3 million springs have either dried up or are in various stages of disappearing.
  • A major 2022 assessment found that 35% of water sources in Bhutan were in the process of drying up.
  • In Western Nepal, a major study found decreased discharge in 70% of springs.
  • While less data exists for Bangladesh, the phenomenon is known to be widespread throughout the country’s Chattogram Hill Tracts.

The good news is that it’s possible to bring springs back.

Driving the disappearance of mountain freshwater sources is climate change, land-use changes – unchecked urbanisation, deforestation, use of concrete, haphazard road construction and loss of traditional ponds – and overextraction of groundwater.

Agriculture is the backbone of mountain livelihoods – and a critical contributor to economies. Without freshwater, crops will fail, livestock cannot survive, life in the thousands of human settlements in the mountains becomes simply unviable. Mountain communities’ lives, jobs and sources of food all rely on us reversing this trend.

Across the Hindu Kush Himalaya, meanwhile, climate change and habitat loss are already driving sharp declines in nature, an issue gravely exacerbated by water scarcity. Spring revival is therefore a crucial step towards slowing accelerating habitat and nature loss as well.

ICIMOD has partnered with communities in Nepal to pioneer locally-led springshed revival techniques for over a decade. At this urgent moment, with the support of local communities and policymakers, and national governments and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, we are now working to roll out tested techniques to renew water sources in four additional countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.


Spring revival: the ultimate nature-based solution

Investing in spring revival not only improves water security for local communities, it also supports

  • landscape restoration
  • conservation of aquatic and riverine biodiversity
  • streamflow in places where water flow, doesn’t come from glacier meltwater
  • winter and dry season flows across numerous river basins of the HKH

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