Resource reliability, accessibility and governance: pillars for managing water resources to achieve water security in Nepal

Eloise M. Biggs, J. Duncan, P. Atkinson, J. Dash

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


As one of the world's most water-abundant countries, Nepal has plenty of water yet resources are both spatially and temporally unevenly distributed. With a population heavily engaged in subsistence farming, whereby livelihoods are entirely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, changes in freshwater resources can substantially impact upon survival. The two main sources of water in Nepal come from monsoon precipitation and glacial runoff. The former is essential for sustaining livelihoods where communities have little or no access to perennial water resources. Much of Nepal's population live in the southern Mid-Hills and Terai regions where dependency on the monsoon system is high and climate-environment interactions are intricate. Any fluctuations in precipitation can severely affect essential potable resources and food security. As the population continues to expand in Nepal, and pressures build on access to adequate and clean water resources, there is a need for institutions to cooperate and increase the effectiveness of water management policies. This research presents a framework detailing three fundamental pillars for managing water resources to achieve sustainable water security in Nepal. These are (i) resource reliability; (ii) adequate accessibility; and (iii) effective governance. Evidence is presented which indicates that water resources are adequate in Nepal to sustain the population. In addition, aspects of climate change are having less impact than previously perceived e.g. results from trend analysis of precipitation time-series indicate a decrease in monsoon extremes and interannual variation over the last half-century. However, accessibility to clean water resources and the potential for water storage is limiting the use of these resources. This issue is particularly prevalent given the heterogeneity in spatial and temporal distributions of water. Water governance is also ineffective due to government instability and a lack of continuity in policy. Subsequently, with poor accessibility and poor governance, the threat to human water security remains high in Nepal. Nonetheless, the nation has great potential to better manage natural capital and harness reserves for improving livelihoods, such as river flows for generating hydropower. Suggested solutions for transboundary water cooperation are explored within a water-energy-food nexus framework.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event2013 AGU Fall Meeting - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 9 Dec 201313 Dec 2013


Conference2013 AGU Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


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