Improving water resource management in the Koshi River Basin

We’re developing a robust integrated river basin modelling framework to improve water resource management in the Koshi River Basin, a sub-basin of the Ganges where more than 600 million people live. This modelling will support planning for sustainable development in the Basin.

The Challenge

Supporting development in the Koshi River Basin

We are working with local scientists and communities to develop a ‘fit for purpose’ basin-wide hydro-agro-economic modelling framework.

This framework will ensure that water resources in the Koshi Basin are developed and managed in a regionally coordinated manner for the wellbeing of the people and the environment.

The Koshi River Basin is a transboundary river system that flows through some of the poorest parts of China, India and Nepal.

The region is prone to natural hazards, particularly floods, droughts, landslides and debris flow. But it provides fertile soil and abundant groundwater to a dense population living in the river basin’s flood prone areas.

Our Response

Modelling the Koshi River Basin to support sustainable development

Our research supports the broader aims of the Koshi Basin Programme (KBP).

The KBP is a multi-disciplinary river basin resource management program managed by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and being conducted from 2013-2015 (Phase 1 and 2).

The program aims to:

  • assist with the development of water balance models to capturing the relationship between climate (precipitation and temperature) and stream-flow in the KBP
  • examine the impact of different external drivers (such as population growth, climate change, upstream development, construction of barrage) on the water balance and surface-water groundwater interaction and availability
  • examine the impact of future water availability on the irrigated agriculture, regional socio-economy, livelihoods, and the environments and, in particular, conduct a social cost-benefit analysis of potential solutions
  • understand the interface between scientific modelling and policy development and implementation (e.g. the link between better models and better decision-making).

Key research deliverables

Research and knowledge gained from this project will culminate in the development of a robust integrated basin-wide modelling framework, using eWater’s Source platform, based on best current knowledge, data and modelling practices.

More specifically CSIRO will:

  • assist with the development of water balance models for capturing the relationship between climate (precipitation and temperature) and stream-flow in KBP (and flood risk)
  • characterise the seasonality, variability and, if possible, expected trends in stream-flow. Develop techniques for understanding the likelihood of particular stream-flow estimates
  • review previous work on sedimentation in the Koshi Basin
  • understand the current interface between scientific modelling and policy development and implementation through interviews with policy-makers
  • the output of these activities will provide a strong basis for further investment for modelling and detail scenarios analysis for the next two years of the project. This will help us to understand the type of model to be used and the type of scenarios to be considered as well as use of the collected data as inputs to the models. So, these activities will be the phase II of the overall project if funded further.

Partners include:

This work is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Australian Aid .

Collaborating partners to the KBP – Phase 1 include:

  • the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, Nepal
  • International Research Center for River Basin Environment, University of Yamanashi, Japan
  • Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Tribhuvan University, Nepal and; the Institute of Economic Growth, India.

The Results

The first phase

The first phase of model development for the KBP was completed in 2014, with Phase 2 to be completed in 2015.

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