Regional Cooperation Key To Sustaining Eco-friendly Development In The Fragile Hindu Kush Himalayas


In the wake of the recent devastating floods in Uttarakhand, Dr. Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission of India, requested the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to make a presentation to the Planning Commission on ways to collaboratively address the regional concerns on floods.

ICIMOD made the presentation on 13 August 2013 at the Planning Commission, New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and was attended by members and advisors of the Planning Commission, secretaries of Ministries and senior officials from various departments and agencies.

Dr Eklabya Sharma of ICIMOD highlighted the nature of devastation caused by floods, especially flash floods in the Himalayan region. He said the lack of hydro-meteorological data, inadequate early warning systems, and poor infrastructure planning often exacerbate the damages caused by floods in terms of human lives and properties.

Further, the transboundary nature of these disaster events and absence of regional data sharing mechanisms add to the woes of the people living in the fragile environment.

In the face of these challenges, ICIMOD emphasizes the need for end-to-end information systems for flood forecasting to ensure that information reaches people faster than flood waters. Such information systems have several components, from acquiring satellite data to flood forecasting models to setting up community-based early warning systems. ICIMOD is one of the few organizations in the region with its own MODIS satellite data receiving station which was used successfully to test a forest fire warning system in Nepal.  ICIMOD and its partners have also piloted localized flood early warning system in Assam and Bangladesh.