Sustainable Mountain Development No. 56, ICIMOD, Winter 2009
Climate Change and Hindu
Kush-Himalayan Waters –
knowledge gaps and priorities in
Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, Centre for Development and Environment Policy, IIM, Kolkata, India, email@example.com
ountains are often called the ‘water The monsoon is the dominating factor shaping the
towers’ of the world as they provide a climate in Asia, thus the distribution of precipitation is
large part of the water used by humanity very uneven over space and time and large parts of the
(Bandyopadhyay 1996). The rivers emanating from continent are water-stressed for many months of the year.
the Hindu Kush-Himalayas (HKH) in Asia carry a very The upland catchments provide a crucial ecosystem
large amount of water and sediment to areas from the service in moderating this imbalance by retaining the
east coast of China to the southwest coast of Pakistan snow and ice in glaciers and high altitude wetlands and
and from the Indo-Gangetic plains in South Asia, to delaying the meltwater ﬂ ows until the dry pre-monsoon
the Tarim basin in northwestern China, through river months, thus providing much needed base ﬂ ows to the
basins serving some1.3 billion people. rivers.
Vulnerable Chainpur, Nepal (see credits p 61)