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27th January 2024 (10 Topics)

Enhancing Climate Resilience in Hindu Kush Himalaya through Spatial Planning

Context: 

The pressing issue of floods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region and emphasizes the need for climate-resilient strategies, particularly through spatial planning and nature-based solutions.

1.  Widespread Flooding in HKH:

   - Recent Catastrophes (2023): Cataclysmic floods hit the Indian Himalayas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, resulting in significant human casualties and extensive damages.

   - Common Catalysts: Unplanned construction along riverbanks, alteration of traditional farming practices, and inadequate drainage systems contribute to the heightened risk of floods.

   - Climate-Resilient Activities: Embracing nature-based solutions ensures climate-resilient practices, preparing communities in the HKH region for potential floods.

2.  Spatial Land-Use Planning for Climate Adaptation:

   - Urbanization Impact: Rapid urbanization has led to unchecked construction in flood-prone areas, diminishing natural floodplains and exacerbating disaster risks.

   - Spatial Planning Importance: Enforcing strict town planning using spatial land-use planning approaches is crucial for mitigating floods, landslides, and climate change impacts.

   - Community Engagement: Participatory technology-based spatial planning engages communities in decision-making, designates risk-prone zones as restricted areas, and guides strategic infrastructure placement.

3.  Role of IT and Nature based solutions:

   - GIS and Earth Observation (EO) and Real time Data: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Earth Observation (EO) data play a pivotal role in spatial planning by evaluating land use changes, mapping flood hazards, exposure,           and vulnerability. GIS provides real-time flood inundation data, aiding disaster response, relief efforts, and timely action to reduce casualties.

   - Community-Based Flood Early Warning Systems: Initiatives like the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development's (ICIMOD) low-cost community-based flood early warning system empower local communities to respond          to floods effectively.

   - Tree Planting, Retention Ponds and Barrier Effect: Planting native trees along riverbanks and creating retention ponds serve as effective nature-based solutions. Trees act as natural barriers, slowing floodwaters, absorbing excess                rainwater, and contributing to the recharge of natural springs.

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