Himalayan rivers: time for transboundary management


February 14th, 2013
Author: Robert G. Wirsing, Georgetown

If one were on the lookout for the region with the most meagre potential for cooperative management of its transboundary river basins, South Asia would be a strong contender.Merely to mention the larger co-riparian states sharing the region’s two biggest and most important Himalayan river basins — India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China sharing the Indus basin, and India, Bangladesh and China sharing the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin — is usually enough to dampen enthusiasm for basin-wide river management. Kept apart by distrust stemming from histories of rivalry, these five states seem especially poor candidates for basin-wide cooperation. Aroused by the uncertainties of climate change, worried hydrologists may argue that there just isn’t enough time left for business-as-usual unilateralist attitudes to prevail. Nevertheless, South Asia seems to many observers a far better candidate for water war than for water peace.

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