Early flood warning system for Himalayan states


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
Amid strained relations between the Himalayan countries, some good news on the climate cooperation front.

Early flood warning system for Himalayan states

From Rina Saeed Khan
Wednesday, 23 Dec, 2009

The incidence and intensity of water-related hazards and disasters are
expected to increase in the Himalayan region as a result of climate change.

COPENHAGEN: The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) tried to bring together the various Himalayan countries (India, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh) on one platform at the recently concluded COP 15, although it has not been easy given their history of conflicts instead of cooperation.

Pakistan is a member country and its villages in Chitral and the Northern Areas face increasing threats from climate change in the years to come.

They are particularly vulnerable to glacier outburst flooding and river/stream flooding as snow and ice melt faster than before.

ICIMOD’s attempts to draw attention to this remote region have resulted in some positive actions and on Tuesday ICIMOD and the government of Finland announced that they had signed an agreement (dated 15th December) on a collaborative project to establish a regional flood information system in the Hindukush-Himalayan region.

Finland is providing a maximum of 2 million euros over three years (2009-2012) for the project which will be implemented by ICIMOD in close collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the six regional partner countries.

The long-term goal is to minimise the loss of lives and livelihoods by providing timely warning of floods and thus reduce flood vulnerability in the region, which includes the Indus river basin.

The project aims to develop a regional framework for cooperation on sharing flood data and information amongst participating countries. It will also establish a flood observation network in selected river basins.

The technical capacity of partner organisations on flood forecasting and communication aspects will be enhanced, and resources provided to procure the necessary equipment for rainfall and flow measurements at selected sites.

The incidence and intensity of water-related hazards and disasters are expected to increase in the Himalayan region as a result of climate change leading to more frequent and damaging cycles of floods and drought. ICIMOD is also planning to conduct a “climate impact assessment” in the Himalayan region.

According to Andreas Schild, the director general of ICIMOD, the Himalayas now face the same challenge, so everyone has to cooperate in the face of climate change.

“We tried to create awareness about the relevance of these mountain systems in the global community. They are early warning systems of climate change and affect the water availability for the people living downstream.”

Millions of people depend on the water of the Himalayas and we need to understand the changes in ice, snow and precipitation in the years to come. He called upon the Himalayan countries to join forces to study the region.

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