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The Himalaya-Hindu Kush region is a priority of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) in Asia. Due to its topography, the people living there face particular challenges: due to the lack of infrastructure in the remote mountain regions, they have hardly any income opportunities. Population growth and increasing pressure on the sensitive mountainous soils at risk of degradation and erosion make life even more difficult.
In order to ensure the sustainability successes, all actors in the region join forces. The regional knowledge development and learning centre, ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), was founded in 1984 by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. ICIMOD is active in the Himalaya-Hindu Kush region and deals with the specific problems existing in the mountainous regions. It thereby targets the improvement of the locals’ the living standards, as well as to provide sustainable environmental protection. The Austrian Development Cooperation works with bi- and multilateral donors such as Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland as well as several UN Organisations and the ICIMOD regional programme. The Austrian-funded partial programme Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services is aimed at sustaining biodiversity and the capacity of ecosystems. Case studies provide regional know-how for documenting the impact of climate change on the natural resources in the mountainous regions of Himalaya-Hindu Kush. Based on this, strategies, technologies and capacities for community-based resource management are developed. It is thereby, for example, that the survival of local bee species is supported, as beekeeping provides an additional and crucial source of income for the region’s inhabitants.
The eruption of glacier lakes in the Himalaya-Hundi Kush mountain regions due to glacier meltdown remains a huge challenge. Austria supports a project, which minimises the risks of glacier lake eruption by combining political advisory, awareness raising, early warning systems and technical provisions. In the framework of the pilot project, water levels of the Thorthormi glacier lake in Northern Bhutan are lowered in order to prevent the possible aperture of moraine walls.