The Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE) consortium has started a large research project on the impacts of climate change on the poor in the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins in South Asia. Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) is one of the five core-partners.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region – one of the most dynamic, diverse and complex mountain and associated floodplains systems in the world – provides water resources and other ecosystem services to more than 1.3 billion people downstream and 210 million in the mountains. Socio-economic changes in combination with climate change impacts may significantly affect their livelihoods. To address priority adaptation issues in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, HI-AWARE will develop robust evidence to inform people-centred and gender responsive policies and practices for enhancing the adaptive capacities and climate resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable women, men and children in the mountains and plains of the glacier and snowpack dependent river basins of the HKH region. Focusing on the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins, the programme will adopt a comparative and cross-scalar approach, with research and pilot adaptation intervention sites representing a range of climates, hydrological conditions and socioeconomic contexts, and it will actively engage stakeholders in the research process.
HI-AWARE will develop robust evidence on how to enhance the adaptive capacities and climate resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the mountains and floodplains of the glacier and snowpack dependent river basins of South Asia. Increases in temperature and shifts in timing and amount of rainfall and river flows are expected to seriously affect the lives of the poorest in these basins. Evidence gathered by HI-AWARE will inform adaptation plans and policies on a range of scales and sectors, for the decades up to 2050 and beyond. During the 5 years of the project, HI-AWARE aims to build a lasting network for exchange of this new knowledge between Southern and Northern institutions. As coordinator of the Alterra team, Hester Biemans is involved in this project: “We want to help local communities and various governments to deal with the expected shifts in water availability and demand," she says. "We will bring in expertise on adaptation options in the water and agricultural sectors. Next to that, we want to explore how people can deal with increasing heat stress in both cities and rural areas. These are two of the key risks the region faces according to the latest IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Our research will be centred around 12 pilot and intervention sites, and will involve modelling to evaluate the impacts of adaptation at larger spatial scales.”
The HI-AWARE consortium is led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Nepal) and consists, next to Alterra, of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, the Energy and Resources Institute (India) and the Climate Change, Alternate Energy and Water Resources Institute (Pakistan).
HI-AWARE is part of the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme, which is launched by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). CARIAA aims to take a fresh approach to understanding climate change and adaptation in some of the most vulnerable regions of Africa and Asia. Organized around four multi-regional consortia, CARIAA will focus on three global hot spots, namely semi-arid regions in Africa and South and Central Asia; deltas in Africa and South Asia; and the Himalayan River Basins.
Watch a brief introduction on what HI-AWARE stands for.