Disaster risk reduction in the Hindu Kush – Himalayan Region
International center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal, Federal Democratic Republic of
Hindu Kush Himalaya region lies between the latitude 15°42"–40°8"N and longitude 59°34"–112°5"E on the globe and encompasses a geographical area of 3,441,719 km2 including over all or part of eight Asian countries from west to east (Figure 1). These countries are Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. Topographically it is mountainous part and source of ten large Asian river systems – the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra (Yarlungtsanpo), Irrawaddy, Salween (Nu), Mekong (Lancang), Yangtse (Jinsha), Yellow River (Huanghe), and Tarim (Dayan), - and provides water, ecosystem services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 210.53 million people in the region. The region is environmentally stressed and economically underdeveloped. Consequently the region is highly vulnerable for climate change, natural disaster and their environmental and socio-economic risks.
About 95% population of the total population in the HKH region depends on agriculture and forest resources but the forest cover is decreasing 0.36 km2 per year and the agricultural production decreasing due climate change and several natural disasters. The region experience natural disasters very frequently, especially earthquake and water induced hazards. Several data sources indicate that that out of total annual disaster in HKH region 14% are earthquake and landslide disaster 48% are hydrological disasters (i.e.36% flood, 9% mass movement, 3% drought) whereas 38% are other types of disasters such as storm (23%), wild fire (1%), extreme temperature (6%), epidemic (8%). Results concluded that climate change accelerating the hazard events with the growth rate of 6% each year. Subsequently human casualties increasing with the rate of 9% each year whereas affected people and infrastructural loss increasing with that rate of respectively 6% and 4% each year. Because of the high growth rates of the existing risks level expected that the emerging risk has the potential to evolve into extreme events. Therefore, Disaster Risk Reduction requires a comprehensive approach combining structural mitigation, socio-economic development, environmental sustainability and regional cooperation efforts.
Most of the natural hazards in the HKH region are regional in nature. Environmental degradation, geological, hydro-meteorological, climatic or anthropogenic factors in one country cause hazards transcend the political boundaries and affect communities in the neighbouring countries too. The South Asian earthquake of October 2005 damaged life and property over large areas of Pakistan and India. Koshi floods devastate parts of Nepal and India every monsoon, while Ganges floods maroon hundreds of villages in India Bangladesh. Similarly, Indus river floods affect Afghanistan and Pakistan and Brahmaputra floods affect China and India. Further, trans-boundary environmental problems are major focus of bi-lateral conflicts and debates in the HKH region. For instance, deforestation and environmental degradation in upstream mountain regions in one country causes flooding in another downstream country and construction or mismanagement of dams in an upstream country poses grave security threat to a country in the downstream. Therefore, eco system protection and regional cooperation is very crucial for disaster risk reduction in the HKH region.
The progressive and tactical integration of Disaster Risk Reduction across natural resource management, climate change, livelihoods and development planning is the ideal way of achieving a holistic approach to disaster risk, vulnerability and to its reduction. This holistic approach should be aided by bi-lateral and regional cooperation.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) calls for Integrating risk reduction into development and environmental planning and policies at all levels of government, including in poverty reduction strategies and sectors and multi sector policies and plans. The HFA also emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation for disaster risk reduction.
Session Objectives: (1) Highlights Disaster issues in the Hindu Kush – Himalaya (HKH) region; (2) Highlight the need for eco system based Disaster Risk Reduction for ensuring environmental sustainability and reducing mountain community’s disaster vulnerability; (2) Highlight the importance of regional cooperation for Disaster Risk Reduction; (3) Learning from multi stake holder efforts and models of Disaster Risk Reduction in mountain regional in general and HKH region in particular;
Aims & Outcomes: (1) Bring mountain disaster issues in to the focus of global Disaster Risk Reduction discourse and efforts through IDRC forum; (2) Convergence of ideas, experiences and experiences of multi stake holders on Disaster Risk Reduction in the HKH region; (3)Enhanced strategic collaboration among international stakeholders: Donors/scientific/policy institutions/government organizations and like-minded organizations; (4)Enhanced cooperation among key national technical and scientific institutions of the countries in the HKH region; (5)Enhanced commitment for eco-system protection for Disaster Risk Reduction by key stakeholders in the region.