Ranchi/ Patna/Kathmandu (IANS): More than any other factor in the Hindu Kush- Himalaya region (HKH), rapid and often haphazard
economic development and population growth, coupled with climate change, threaten the concept of Water Security For All. This
also threatens to push the region - specifically the neediest and vulnerable among its inhabitants - into a vicious cycle of droughts and floods, of water that is unfit to drink and a range of environmental hazards, experts have said in a study.
“Good water governance, politically and culturally tailored to the local, national, and regional contexts, is needed to ensure water security in the HKH. Unequal power dynamics, centralised decision making and inadequate opportunities for local communities to influence their water-security decisions despite the presence of local institutions are among the leading causes of poor water governance in the HKH. These are all taking place under constantly changing conditions in an ecologically fragile landscape with dispersed settlements” Aditi Mukherji, Fan Zhang and Christopher Scott said. They are the authors of the Water chapter of the HKH Assessment by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
“Decision-making must account for prevailing approaches to water governance in the region, characterized by hybrid formal-informal regimes with a prevalence of informal institutions at the local level and formal state institutions at national and regional levels. While the absence of institutions working on transboundary water resources in the region does present opportunities for HKH-wide cooperation, it is important to note that the risks of water-related conflict are high” Mukherji, a Consultant with the Colombo-based International Water Management Institute, said.
Fan Zhang of the Beijing based Chinese Academy of Sciences and Christopher Scott of the Tuscan-based University of Arizona, said more attention needs to be paid to HKH-specific conditions. Participatory and cooperative decision making, evidence-based policies, transparent programme implementation, accountability at all levels and transboundary and regional cooperation are essential to ensuring water security in the region.