Koshi Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Hub to Strengthen Transboundary Collaboration

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Extreme weather events and water-induced hazards are quite common in the Koshi basin. Due to the basin’s transboundary nature, these events have cascading impacts across national borders. Hazards in upstream regions lead to disasters in downstream areas as well, and affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in China, Nepal, and India.  

Upstream–downstream linkages in the basin can serve as a basis for managing shared disasters and provide opportunities for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and livelihood improvement. Although there have been efforts to improve DRR in the Koshi basin, related policies and practices need to be strengthened using a multi-hazard approach. Effective cooperation can be achieved by sharing knowledge and fostering practices that address the transboundary scale of disasters, which stakeholders often struggle with. Marginalized communities and at-risk groups, especially women, are most vulnerable to such adverse events as they lack access to information and the capacity to prepare for disasters and deal with the aftermath.

The Koshi Basin Initiative (KBI) at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been working with its partners across the basin to understand disasters and enhance resilience. The idea of the Koshi DRR Knowledge Hub (KDKH) developed through a series of consultations with various stakeholders that took place between December 2017 and December 2018. The KDKH has been conceptualized as a platform led and driven by its members. It fosters transboundary collaboration and promotes science, policy, and practice interlinkages to address DRR in the basin as a multifaceted, interdisciplinary, and transboundary challenge. It aims to promote the development of collaborative activities and projects that will improve decision making related to the management of the Koshi River basin. 

To this end, a two-day inception workshop on the KDKH was organized by ICIMOD; the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA), India; and Institute of Disasters Management and Reconstruction (IDMR), Sichuan University, China from 11 to 12 December 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The main objective of the event was to share knowledge and deliberate on the current understanding of transboundary water-related disasters in the basin. The participants and organizers sought to develop a common vision along with success indicators and a possible governance structure for the hub. The goal was to devise short-, medium-, and long-term strategies for the KDKH. More than 60 participants from China, India, and Nepal participated in the workshop. 

Several group sessions were conducted to arrive at a common vision for the hub, form collaborative structures, deliberate on its working areas, and strategize ways ensure the sustainability of the KDKH. Panel discussions were held highlighting the need to engage youth, private-sector institutions, and the media in promoting transboundary cooperation. The participants recognized that despite the existing challenges, solutions could be arrived at through commitment to the common goal of improved DRR in the Koshi basin. 

Based on the recommendations from the workshop, ICIMOD will function as the Secretariat of the KDKH. The hub will be mobilized through Transboundary Working Groups (TWGs) that will identify areas for cooperation and knowledge-sharing between institutions and stakeholders across the Koshi basin while contributing to transboundary cooperation.

More details available here: http://lib.icimod.org/record/34452/files/icimodWorkshopReport_KoshiDRRkh.pdf