Over the past few decades, there has been increasing concern and evidence of springs drying up or becoming seasonal in the Himalayan region. There are many factors such as climate change, land use change, urbanization, infrastructure development, and land degradation that are directly threatening Himalayan springs. A report by Niti Aayog estimated that about 50 million inhabitants depend on springs in the Indian Himalayan Region, where nearly 50% of springs have already dried up or have reduced discharge. There is an urgency to tackle the problem of drying springs to further prevent water crisis in the region.
The Institute for Study and Development Worldwide (IFSD), Australia-India Water Centre (AIWC), and Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) are working to apply the Water Policy Lab (WPL) method to identify actionable insights to solve this water challenge. The WPL approach emphasises practice-based learning, stakeholder engagement, and critical and productive dialogue with policy actors, with an aim to generate actionable solutions to problems concerning current or future water security (Ojha et al. 2021). IFSD has successfully organized two WPL forums held virtually in 2021 (16 July and 18 November) with the attendance of various water stakeholders. Both forums proved to be an excellent platform to improve the understanding and applied skills for translating the WPL approach in various contexts.
With the initiation of the Himalayan Spring Water Policy Lab (HS-WPL), we hope to bring together practitioners, researchers, and policy actors together in one space to share grounded research insights to inform our thinking and further analysis on policy and governance aspects of Himalayan springs in Western Indian Himalayas and beyond.
The first HS-WPL consortium meeting took place on 16 March 2022 bringing together many water experts who all concluded the importance of having dialogues between diverse water stakeholders for effective solutions. The second event is planned as a HS-WPL forum, and will be held on 4 August 2022 with two water experts presenting their work in the sector. Dr. Shive Prakash Rai will be sharing research/insights on challenges and possible solutions for Himalayan spring water management. Dr. Singh will be sharing experience with policy advice to governments and the use of translational ecology in the context of water.
Dr. Shive Prakash Rai is the Associate Professor Hydrogeology at the Geology Department of the Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Dr. Rai’s current work focuses on water resource planning, groundwater monitoring and management, river hydrology and river health, water education and capacity building for sustainable management of water in rural and urban areas.
Dr. Vishal Singh is the Senior Fellow and Director Research at the Centre for Ecology Development and Research. Dr. Singh’s research emphasises on understanding development, forest, water, and human interactions through a multi-pronged approach in the Himalayan region.
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