South Asia is home to about 21 percent of the global population, but has only about eight percent of the world’s annual renewable water resources. Population growth and urbanization are major drivers of change and increasing water stress in the region. About one billion people live in the three large transboundary basins in the region, the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. These rivers that emanate from the Greater Himalaya are shared across borders between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Climate change studies increasingly suggest that the effects of glacial melt, temperature variations, and erratic monsoon patterns will reduce the availability of water in the region and lead to a greater frequency of floods and droughts. Despite the frequency and transboundary impacts of these extreme events, cooperation between countries remains limited. Low per capita water availability, coupled with a very high relative level of water use, makes South Asia one of the most hydrologically vulnerable regions of the world. Conflicting demands on these international waters, increasing water demand, significant inter- and intra-annual hydrologic variability, weak water institutions, and a low level of transboundary cooperation, are the key water resources management challenges of the region. The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) has one of the largest bodies of ice outside the polar ice caps, covering an area of more than 60,000 square kilometres. The glaciers, ice fields, and snow packs provide important intra- and inter-annual water storage facilities, and the mountains are often referred to as the “water towers” of Asia. They are the major source of surface water and groundwater during the dry season. They play a significant role in agriculture and food security, and also have the potential to play a vital role in energy security.
The HUC Academy
The HUC Academy is an annual intensive programme organized at ICIMOD or a member of the Consortium, providing opportunities for young researchers to engage in cross-disciplinary scholarship. It aims for a new generation of transformational leaders committed to mountain research, capable of producing consequential knowledge, innovate policies and environmentally responsible business practices to address HKH mountain challenges from transboundary perspectives. Its four highlighted features are:
- mountain focus;
- field-based research; and
- leadership building
The first HUC Academy launched in July 2017 and focusing on Disaster Risk and Water Management aims to enhance scientific and applied knowledge on selected issues of water resource and water-related disaster management of the HKH.
Expected outcomes of the training are:
- Improved knowledge of participants on the subject matters for research and training;
- Course materials accessible online.