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Water insecurity rising in Hindu Kush Himalayan region: Study

Srinagar, Mar 1: Rapidly changing climate and inadequate urban planning is causing water insecurity in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, a new study said on Sunday.
The study covering 13 towns across four countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan shows that the interlinkages of water availability, water supply systems, rapid urbanisation, and consequent increase in water demand (both daily and seasonal) are leading to increasing water insecurity in towns in the HKH region.
“This water insecurity is attributed to poor water governance, lack of urban planning, poor tourism management during peak season, and climate-related risks and challenges,” said the study conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre, based in Kathmandu, working on behalf of the people of the HKH region.
The study said that communities are coping through short-term strategies such as groundwater extraction, which is proving to be unsustainable.
“There is a lack of long-term strategies for water sustainability in urban centres, and this requires the special attention of planners and local governments,” it said.
“Urbanisation has pulled people from rural areas in the HKH region into nearby urban centres. Although only three per cent of the total HKH population lives in larger cities and 8 per cent in smaller towns, projections show that more than 50 per cent of the population will be living in cities by 2050,” it said.
This will naturally place tremendous stress on water availability, it added.
The study shows that the water demand–supply gap in eight of the surveyed towns is 20-70 per cent.
“There is a high dependence on springs (ranging between 50 and 100 per cent) for water supply in three-fourths of the urban areas. Under current trends, the demand–supply gap may double by 2050,” the study said.