During SDIP Phase 1 (2013-2016), we initiated the building of river system modelling capacity to quantify water resources, and established a collaborative environment between Australia and South Asia for sharing information. Some of the achievements from SDIP Phase 1 are outlined.
The Koshi River flows through some of the poorest parts of China, India and Nepal. While water is abundant, water availability is highly variable and water use is underdeveloped. Understanding water balance is important to water management of the river basin.
Runoff, snow and glacier melt models were built for the headwater catchments of the Koshi Basin in Nepal and China. A collaborative model development approach, under the guidance of the Nepal-Australia Joint Advisory Committee on Water Resource Management, has provided a defensible understanding of water balance for the Koshi Basin and increased Nepal Government capability in river basin planning.
Groundwater dependent agricultural production in the northwest region of Bangladesh is crucial for the country’s food security. We worked with researchers and policy makers from Bangladesh and Australia to estimate the sustainable level of groundwater use for irrigation under current and future climate scenarios.
Defining the sustainable level of groundwater use provided understanding for planning and management of water resources and its impact on the socio‐economy and livelihoods of farmers, including women, in the northwest region of Bangladesh.
Pakistan is heavily reliant on surface water and groundwater resources of the Indus Basin for food and energy security. Yet, the basin is one of the most water stressed and vulnerable to climate change in the world. CSIRO worked with Pakistan government agencies to develop tools for assessing water availability, sharing and delivery.
Acquisition and collation of key datasets from the Government of India led to an increased understanding of data requirements and the importance of data collection standards and databases to support basin planning.
Development of a Brahmani Basin model and Basin planning scenarios were presented at the International River Symposium, New Delhi in September 2016, the project team influenced India’s thinking on river basin planning, evidenced by the support of the Joint Secretary for Water at the Australian-India Joint Working Group and the framing of India’s National Hydrology Program.
With local researchers, CSIRO reported on the current state of knowledge of relationships between streamflow and ecology in the Koshi Basin. This work built technical capacity in describing the relationships between ecological assets such as waterbirds, fish, and buffalo and flow attributes such as depth and duration. This is critical knowledge when assessing the ecological impacts of changes in flow associated with future pressures such as climate change. The report forms a foundational document for streamflow ecology in Nepal.
In Pakistan, training workshops brought together male and female professionals from government and universities to work on cropping systems and river basin modelling for integrated water resource management in the Indus Basin. Targeted training of key staff facilitated efficient operations, planning and policy formulation of water management within Pakistan.
The workshops created networks and linkages to enable informal information sharing across agencies. CSIRO also facilitated the training of two female hydrologists in river basin modelling in Australia to build modelling capacity within Pakistan government agencies.
Rural communities in India’s Brahmani-Baitarni Basin are impoverished and lack access to a reliable food source. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding on water between the governments of India and Australia, our researchers worked to build capacity through providing training materials and workshops. Resulting in the Central Water Commission, India, creating a team of river system modellers to support river basin planning.
CSIRO created opportunities for high level knowledge exchange between water management sectors, and between Australia and several South Asian countries that will leave a legacy for Himalayan river basin management beyond the tenure of SDIP.
For example, high-level engagement and sharing of Australian experience and practices in climate change and river basin management with Indian and Nepali government agencies has significantly influenced river basin planning. Evidence suggests that both the countries are implementing basin planning as key strategies for economic development.
Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of water scarcity and related energy and food insecurity. A foundational SDIP document was produced that will lead to the mainstreaming of gender in a standard results-based monitoring and evaluation framework. Staff from the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and CSIRO, with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), collaborated over an eighteen-month period to develop the Making gender count report that is a gender-responsive approach to practice.