KATHMANDU, Aug. 25: The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the World Agroforesty Center, China (ICRAF-China) alerted the global community on the impacts of climate change on the Himalayan water resources at a seminar on Asian Water Towers at the World Water Week in Stockholm.
A joint ICIMOD/ICRAF-China seminar on Asian Water Towers was held as part of the World Water Week in Stockholm to raise awareness amongst the international community, to identify policy options strengthening the adaptation and resilience of the mountain people. High-level representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan also presented their analysis from their respective points of view according to ICIMOD.
Global climate change according to data published by ICIMOD is causing a rapid melt down of snow and glaciers in the Himalayan region and the water from the Himalayan river systems flows into water basins with a total population of almost 1.3 billion.
"Warming in the Himalayan region has been much greater than global average. Both increasing and decreasing rainfall patters have been detected in the area. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme – dry seasons become dryer and wet seasons wetter. This phenomenon is causing concern over the long term reduction in total water supply, affecting lives and livelihoods of the Himalayan people, especially in agriculture practices and long term food security," a press statement issued by the organisation said.
Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD said that the signs of global climate change were visible, but the in-depth knowledge and data from the Himalayan region was missing. "There is an urgent need to increase scientific co-operation and regional collaboration to reduce this information gap."
According to him the policy orientation for the following lines of action should be considered: Increasing the capacity to manage risk and hazards affecting the most vulnerable people; Increasing the regional and trans-boundary cooperation to improve early warning systems; Promoting integrated river basin and water management schemes; Strengthening policies which enable the storage of surplus water during the monsoon, and improving the availability of water during dry season (watershed development, afforestation, infrastructure for water storage and hydro electricity);Promoting the exchange of scientific data thus reducing uncertainty, and clarifying the relation between economic growth, pollution and the receding cryosphere in the Himalayas.
"The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region is the highest, most complex mountain region in the world. It extends more than 3500km over eight countries, from Afghanistan in the north-west to Myanmar in the south-east. The region ranges from the plateau regions of Tibet and other mountain areas of China, to the Ganges Basin in India, and has the upland watersheds of the ten major Asian river systems," he said.
In addition to the seminar, an ICIMOD photo exhibition titled Himalaya – Changing Landscapes, which aims to raise awareness on the impact of climate change on the Himalayan glaciers by showing repeat photographs, taken fifty years apart, of the mountains and valleys in the Mount Everest region in Nepal, was also displayed at the World Water Week.