Launch of a River Basin Planning Guide to support the India National Hydrology Project

The Ganges at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alakna Rivers (Credit: Ruangrat / Adobe Stock).

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) will launch a new publication for water resources practitioners in India during the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Water Management in Pune on 6–8 November.

The publication, titled ‘River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide’, has been developed in consultation with the Indian Ministry of Jal Shakti to support the National Hydrology Project (NHP) – a World Bank-funded initiative aiming to improve water management across India at State and Central Government levels. AWP has been providing technical assistance under NHP Phase III since 2015.

The Guide provides practical and concise guidance and draws on experiences in Indian and Australian river basin planning and water management, including experience and dialogue with Indian Krishna River Basin states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and Australian experience in the Murray-Darling Basin.

AWP Australian Partners Alluvium Consulting, Institute for Sustainable Futures (University of Technology Sydney) and Access Water Management co-developed the Guide, which describes a process, strategies and methods that can be used to develop and implement a basin plan in the Indian context. While Indian and Australian contexts have clear differences, there are also many similarities in legal, bio-physical, agricultural and social dependencies which make the exchange of knowledge and lessons in basin planning beneficial for both.

India is among the world’s most water-stressed countries and its rivers are shared by a vast range of people for different uses and across geographical and administrative boundaries. River basins need to be managed in a planned, integrated and adaptive way to ensure their long-term productivity and sustainability.

The Guide aims to assist practitioners to focus on six key stages and elements that shows basin planning is a continuous, iterative process. These stages, described in detail in the full Guide, are 1) Initiation, governance and visioning, 2) Inclusive community engagement, 3) Situation assessment, 4) Strategies and planning, 5) Implementation, and 6) Monitoring, evaluation, reporting and learning.

Under each of these stages in the basin planning process, key considerations and outcomes are described to assist users in ensuring their basin planning efforts are effective. The section on inclusive community engagement details key engagement principles to ensure that the plan reflects the vision and needs of the community, garners maximum support and mitigates risks; while the section on strategies and planning gives examples of options for specific basin strategies to include within the overarching plan. The Guide discusses how to apply information and engage with stakeholders to reach key strategic decisions, considering benefits and impacts. All sections include key messages, case studies from India and Australia and infographics.

The Guide for River Basin Planning in India is the result of a large collaborative effort between Australian and Indian senior water managers involving workshop discussions in-country and a technical visit to Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin. Alluvium contributed its expertise in water policy, planning, regulation, hydrology and modelling; the Institute for Sustainable Futures contributed expertise in inclusive stakeholder engagement and institutional reform; and Access Water Management contributed executive experience in water policy, planning, stakeholder engagement and intergovernmental negotiations.

“Australian water professionals look forward to continuing to collaborate with Indian water agencies on river basin planning activities and two-way knowledge sharing to help both countries address water management challenges. River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide provides an important contribution to progressing sustainable water management,” said David Winfield, Alluvium Senior Consultant and one of the authors of the Guide.

Mr Winfield will announce the publication in a session on Basin Approach for Sustainable Water Resource Development and copies will be available from the Australia booth. AWP CEO Professor Nick Schofield and South Asia Representative Vijay Kumar will also be in attendance, with Prof Schofield delivering a keynote address on the history of Australian water reforms.

AWP is also supporting partners—Janice Green (Australian Bureau of Meteorology), Basant Maheshwari (Western Sydney University), Vanh Mixap (Yes Everyone Matters), and John Tres (Australian Hydrographers Association)—to attend and present on a variety of topics at the conference.

As a result of recommendations coming out of the NHP, a new India Young Water Professionals (YWP) Program will also be launched—run over ten months throughout 2020. The YWP Program is designed to equip YWPs with the necessary skills, knowledge, behaviours and networks to enable them to contribute to the development and management of water resources in India.

Download River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide Overview, Summary and Full Guide. For more information and resources, view AWP’s River Basin Planning offering.

River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide – Summary
River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide – Summary (cover)
River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide

Feature photo: The Ganges at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alakna Rivers (Credit: Ruangrat / Adobe Stock).

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