The transboundary Indus River Basin, originating at the lake Ngangla Ring Tsho in the Tibetan plateau and spread across parts of Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan, serves about 268 million people as their primary source of water for agriculture, energy production, industrial use, and human consumption.
The basin plays a crucial role in enhancing the livelihood and economy of the region, but now, faced with rapid population growth, it is struggling to cope with the increasing demand for water, energy, and food. The glaciers that nourish the basin’s headwaters are shrinking rapidly with some exceptions; there is also a change in the pattern of flow over the short term, with the possibility of reduced flows. Moreover, over-exploitation of groundwater is a common phenomenon in the downstream areas.
The measures to address these challenges are largely impeded by gaps in the understanding of past and future climate trends, and in fathoming the trends and impacts of hydrological change on the upstream and downstream populations. This calls for the development of greater understanding and awareness that can lead to evidence-based solutions in the basin. All these challenges and solutions transcend national boundaries and so there is a great need for regional cooperation and sharing of knowledge.