Integrated watershed management (IWM) provides a framework for sustainably integrating natural resource management with community livelihoods. It addresses the interdependent components of farming systems and natural resources management within a watershed area in a holistic manner. IWM has a strong link to income-generating activities, ultimately leading to sustainable and improved livelihoods. It addresses issues of degradation of natural resources, soil erosion, landslides, floods, frequent droughts and desertification, low agricultural productivity, poor water quantity and quality, and poor access to land and related resources from an integrated watershed management perspective. Cross-cutting themes such as improved access and equity – with a focus on empowering marginalised groups of people, including women – capacity building, and links to income-generation should be considered. Effective integrated watershed management requires a collaborative watershed management approach that includes various stakeholders (NGOs, GOs, communities, and so on).
The ICIMOD action area on integrated watershed management focuses on the above issues. Furthermore, the group address new and up-coming challenges and opportunities for the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region in the context of payment for environmental services and climate change at the watershed level. Institutional mechanisms need to be devised to pay for the ecosystem services that result from sacrifices made by upstream people for the betterment of the lives of those downstream in the watersheds.The third World Water Assessment Report (WWA3), entitled Water in a Changing World, was released in Istanbul, Turkey during the World Water Forum V. The report warns of additional pressure on water resources triggered by such factors as population growth and mobility, as well as climate change which are also some of the key drivers in the HKH region.