Preparing for an uncertain water future in Nepal through sustainable storage development

Published on 24 April 2010

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Start Date: 1 May 2010 | End Date: 30 April 2013


Storage development is an effective way to cope with temporal and spatial variability in water resources and as a result – to enhance water and food security. Traditional storage infrastructure is now back on the agenda of multi-lateral donor agencies and governments of many developing countries. However, there are multiple and diverse storage types in addition to large infrastructure – ranging from natural storage (e.g. wetlands, glaciers, soil moisture, aquifers) to various smaller structures (e.g., terraced paddies, ditches, retention ponds). This ‘storage continuum’ often slips the attention of development organizations. It is proposed here to comprehensively examine various natural and artificial storage options in the specific context of Nepal. Nepal is one of the least developed countries with significant water resources, but almost no artificial storage and limited attention to natural storage management. People in Nepal do not have reliable access to fresh water, hydropower and irrigation developments are minuscule. Increased water demand due to population growth as well as future uncertainty in water availability due to climate change (CC) will further exacerbate the problem. The project will examine the economic and technical feasibility of the spectrum of storage options, as well as their impacts on local livelihoods, environmental consequences, adoption and ability to perform under different CC scenarios. It will give an innovative perspective on storage, suggest scientifically justified ways to select the most suitable interventions, thus   producing policy-relevant outputs urgently needed to support robust planning and investment in the water sector in Nepal related to CC adaptation, livelihood resilience, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. The study will be carried out in the international Koshi river basin crossing China, Nepal and India, taking into account transboundary issues and the variety of physiographic conditions in the region. The project builds on a new partnership between IWMI and UBCO and implemented through assessment of current and future water availability, storage types’ inventory and categorization, valuation of these types in terms of physical, economic and social criteria and knowledge dissemination and adoption potential by local stakeholder groups.  The main goal of the project is to improve livelihoods and increase resilience of communities in Nepal and the Himalayan region, vulnerable to CC risks, by supporting policy and investment decisions on storage development.

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