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Assessment of water related vulnerabilities in the Ganges-Brahmaputra- Meghna River Basin

Congress: 2008
Author(s): S. Babel Mukand, M. Wahid Shahriar
Water Engineering and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 4, Khlong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand Tel. +662 524 5790, Fax. +662 524 6425, Email: msbabel@ait.ac.th

Keyword(s): water vulnerability, Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin, transboundary water
AbstractDespite being water-rich, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) River Basin has attracted considerable attention due to potential future threats posed by uneven endowment of water resources, development pressures and transboundary water issues. This paper presents a situation analysis of water related vulnerabilities that shed light on the water systems characteristics, such as sensitivity and resilience, and how they may affect adaptive processes. To communicate otherwise immeasurable concepts like vulnerability and resilience and adaptive capacity, internationally recognized normative indicators (proxy variables) and indices are used to represent hydro-physical and socio- economic conditions in the basin. Since the water resources management actions are to be taken at local levels, the study has assessed the water resources systems from a co-riparian 'country perspective' for addressing management issues in the basin. Results reveal that while vulnerability in India stems from hydro-physical and ecological factors, it is more linked to poverty and underdevelopment in Bangladesh and Nepal. Political-governance and underinvestment in water sector increase vulnerability. In spite of differences in the sources of vulnerability among the co-riparian countries, opportunities for cooperation exist through regional fora. India can play a major role as a technology and knowledge provider to other riparian countries. It is hoped that the comprehensive and easily interpretable results of the study will help decision makers reach sound solutions to the rising concerns about development and devise cooperative plans among the countries.
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