Leveraging Collaboration for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Koshi Basin

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Scientists, practitioners, and decision makers working in the Koshi Basin reached consensus on the need to further strengthen regional collaboration on disaster risk reduction (DRR) to ensure resilient livelihoods in the basin at a workshop on 2 December 2017. ICIMOD organized the Leveraging Collaboration for DRR in the Koshi Basin workshop as a satellite event of the Resilient HKH conference. The event engaged participants from China, India, and Nepal to discuss current challenges to regional collaboration for DRR in the basin and some of the collaborative practices that are working well. The participants also discussed opportunities to enhance collaboration and roles that government institutions, civil societies, and scientific communities can play in enhancing collaboration in research, practice, and policy. 

Through a panel discussion, four panelists shared their perspectives and experiences in relation to DRR. Jyoti Raj Patra, Project Manager, Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA), stressed the high cost of non-cooperation and said that collaboration among stakeholders between disasters is equally or more important than during disasters. Arti Sinha, Deputy Director, Flood Management Improvement Support Centre, Water Resources Department in Bihar, noted that Bihar, a state that has been facing natural disasters frequently, now has a DRR Roadmap (2015–2030) which has synergized inter-departmental efforts to reduce the vulnerability of communities living in multi-hazard environments. 

Ram Gopal Kharbuja, Deputy Director General of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal, said that Nepal is improving its hydro meteorological forecasting system, which will provide information on rivers that flow through Nepal into India and Bangladesh. Gretchen Kalonji, Dean, Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction, Sichuan University-Hong Kong Polytechnic University, highlighted how academic institutions can provide a platform to developing a multinational curriculum and strengthen collaboration for DRR. 

The recommendations that came out of group discussions at the event identified key areas on how collaboration could be strengthened. Fostering dialogues and meetings for specific sectors, cross-sectors, and geographical areas between disasters could improve communication and collaboration. Regional institutions such as the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) could support such activities. Mapping of current activities and future efforts can help chart pathways and collaborative efforts. A win-win approach that indicates benefits for stakeholders for collaboration could strengthen the case for collaboration for DRR. Co-generation of knowledge products, coordinated research, and sharing of success stories can provide impetus for DRR. 

Arun Bhakta Shrestha, River Basins Regional Programme Manager, ICIMOD, remarked that the regional collaboration should not be limited to data sharing alone and emphasized the need for engaging the private sector and civil societies not only in DRR but in river basin management overall. Kanchan Shrestha, Koshi Basin Programme Coordinator, ICIMOD and organizer of the event, said she hoped the workshop would initiate further dialogue among diverse participants in the basin.