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The challenge

Understanding how much water is available in Nepal and how to improve water availability.

Integrated water resources management requires agreement and understanding of the amount of water available, the demands that are made on this water, and how water resources can be best shared to ensure that the livelihoods of people and functioning of ecosystems are sustained. CSIRO has been working with partners in Nepal, particularly in the Koshi and Kamala Basins, to use integrated water resources management principles for sustainable basin planning.

Nepal’s plentiful water resources require careful management to ensure equitable use across the many competing demands of water users.

The people of the Kamala Basin in the south east of Nepal have a long history of dealing with too much water in monsoon and limited water in the dry season. Meeting the desire to increase agricultural production, develop local industries and support mining, needs careful planning and sound management. A similar problem exists in the Koshi Basin with clear mismatch between water availability and demand.

Our response

Gathering data to assist in basin planning

Working together, the Nepal and Australian governments built capacity in strategic river basin planning through the Kamala River Basin Initiative in the south east of Nepal. Developing and applying knowledge, tools and experience from this project has benefit for other water-limited basins in Nepal.

The results

Sharing the benefits of water

A CSIRO team, through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP), worked with the Government of Nepal, local partners and local communities to understand local issues and demands in the Kamala River Basin. This work generated information and knowledge to support improved water resources management policy and delivery including:

  • identifying existing issues related to water resources
  • quantifying water availability and current and future demand
  • identifying the future needs for irrigated agriculture
  • developing scenarios with stakeholders to explore development pathways; and
  • improving ecological knowledge for sustainable water management.

To date, three main outcomes have been achieved.

Outcome 1: New knowledge linking water policy to livelihoods in the Kamala River Basin

The report, State of the Kamala River Basin, Nepal, presented up-to-date water resources related data and trends for the Kamala River Basin. This knowledge supported the development of the Water Resources Development Strategy for the Kamala River Basin.

Outcome 2: Change from infrastructure vision to scenario planning

Exposure to development scenario planning in Nepal has brought consideration of the current situation - water quantity, water quality, use, management, storage, alongside stakeholder issues and vision for future development and needs - to analyse future water-related issues and provide solutions and alternatives to achieve development goals.

Outcome 3: Water Resources Development Strategy for the Kamala River Basin

River basin development strategies outline actions to achieve development pathways. The Water Resources Development Strategy for the Kamala River Basin set priorities for investment projects, analysis of the likely environmental impacts to inform decision making, and the governance and processes needed for these development pathways. It includes recommendations for an implementation plan, outlining coordination, capability, finances, authority and responsibility requirements.

About SDIP

This work has been part of a portfolio of investments supported by the Australian Government addressing the regional challenges of water, food and energy security in South Asia.

The SDIP aimed to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to:

  • strengthen practices for regional cooperation
  • generate and use critical new knowledge to enhance regional cooperation
  • improve the regional enabling environment for private sector engagement.

Policy partners:

  • Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS)
  • Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM)
  • Provincial and municipal governments
  • Project Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) with representatives from several Government of Nepal ministries and Australian Ambassador

Delivery partners:

  • Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS)
  • Local consultants (Jalsrot Vikhas Sanstha (JVS) and Policy Entrepreneurs Incorporated (PEI), Himalayan Nature
  • Local universities
  • International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICEWaRM)
  • Local community leaders

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