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Supporting river basin planning in Nepal


Koshi Basin map
Koshi Basin

The Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) is an Australian government initiative with the goal of increasing water, food and energy security in South Asia, targetting the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly women and girls. A key target sector is water resource management.

Within SDIP, preliminary research by CSIRO has focussed on understanding the biophysical, cultural and policy environments of the Koshi Basin in China, Nepal and India.

More info on CSIRO’s approach to integrated water resource managements in the Koshi Basin can be found in this factsheet.

This work was extended in 2017 to include a project to develop a basin plan for the Kamala Basin. CSIRO staff participated in a field trip to identify the steps and actions required for the development and implementation of a pilot Kamala Basin Plan. Read the report about the Kamala Basin field trip. and visit our news page to find out more.


CSIRO is improving understanding of the water balance of the Koshi Basin catchments [click to view a map of estimated water balance].

We have supported revisions to rainfall station locations, development of new gridded rainfall products and refinement of hydrological models, all of which lead to better understanding of the timing and availability of water in major streams, including under projected changes to climate.

A hydrological model for the basin was introduced to estimate basin-level changes to streamflow. Model inputs such as gridded rainfall and snow cover observations were improved for calibration purposes and model accuracy. The preliminary analysis of hydroclimate and streamflow modelling can be used as a tool to explore how different climate change and development scenarios might impact streamflow.


A comprehensive multi-variate livelihood analysis was implemented across the region with the goal of quantifying patterns of activities that generate means of survival as livelihood strategies. A review of frameworks to integrate ecosystem services and livelihoods was also conducted. With the aim of making expert knowledge applicable an Argument-Representation-Implementation (ARI) framework was implemented. This allows broad abstract recommendations in literature to be linked to specific policy advice that will lead to desired and informed outcomes.


Conceptual models that capture the relationship between river flow and different ecological components were created along with a comprehensive report on the state of ecology in the region. This information was captured in a report, Connecting flow and ecology in the Koshi Basin, which is a key resource that supports the development of sustainable environmental river flow policies. The work was also summarised in a factsheet.

Key collaborators for this work include the Government of Nepal through the Nepal-Australia Joint Advisory Committee on Water Resource Management, and SDIP partners, especially ICE-WaRM, ICIMOD, and IFC.

Project leader: Dave Penton

More information

More reports, fact sheets and information are available on the SDIP knowledge products page

Read the latest news about our work in Nepal

Read the latest SDIP news

Find out more about international water research at CSIRO