A recent scientific study looked at water resources management in major cities in the Himalayas. Especifically though the Hindu-Kush Himalaya area, from Pakistan to Nepal, India and Bangladesh. These regions of the world are particularly affected by climate change. Fed by the gigantic glaciers covering the highest mountains in the world, these cities see the tap dry up as the ice recedes.
Here is the problem. The water demand in these regions is still increasing, due to fast urbanization. At the same time, the supply offered by nature is declining. “The shortening of the monsoon season and the decrease in snowfall” in some areas have a direct impact on water sources. They are drying up.
Quest for water in the Himalayas
So you have to go find water elsewhere, especially from rivers. The city of Kathmandu will soon be importing some 170 million liters per day. From the Melamchi river thanks to a 26 km tunnel. This very important project, started two decades ago, should be completed this summer. Because the Kathmandu valley is one of the driest areas of the region, the current deficit is estimated at around 180 million liters per day. The deficit is the gap between the water available and the water needed by inhabitants and activities. As the Nepal capital city, all the other big cities of the Hindu-Kush-Himalayas region suffer from a water deficit. Here are some figures in millions of liters per day.
Scientists plead for a long-term strategy, not just based on water withdrawals from already fragile soils. Without this strategy: “the urban centers of the Hindu-Kush-Himalayas are preparing a bleak future for their water resources, it will only be exacerbated by climate change”.
“The climate and water story is simple,” said Amir Bazaz, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Human Settlement. “The story is connected to precipitation. Climate change will change precipitation patterns and all your water bodies get water from precipitation as there is no other source”. “We need solutions and need investments but they need to be mountain specific and they need to take into consideration existing knowledge sources,” said David James Molden, ICIMOD.
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