Managing water resources is a critical challenge in the mountain and hill regions of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). Not only is demand increasing – for domestic use, irrigation, industry, and energy – the effects of climate change are now being seen in river basins in the form of changes in the hydrological regime and less predictable hydrological cycles. Extreme events such as floods and droughts are becoming more common and affecting communities and their livelihood activities across the region. There is an urgent need to manage the water resources in a more effective and equitable way that takes into account the water needs for all stakeholders and sectors.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been promoting integrated approaches to mountain development focused on landscapes and river basins for many years. The limitations of sectoral approaches, in which interventions in one sector can have negative impacts on another leading to rejection of measures, increases in conflicts, and poor social and environmental outcomes, can be seen across the region. ICIMOD’s approach in its work across river basins is holistic, flexible, and inclusive, transcending scales, administrative boundaries, modalities, and disciplines in its research and pilots. This approach promotes Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) with a focus on mountain specific issues as a means of developing solutions that address the needs of all the different users of basin water, both upstream and downstream, including the environment itself as well as the di erent drivers of change.
This resource book provides the broad framework and basic materials needed for developing an IRBM course, serving as a guide to understanding the natural environment and human systems of river basin components.