Due to the topography alone, the population in the key region, Himalayas-Hindu Kush, face special challenges: Necessary infrastructure is often lacking in the very rugged alpine landscape and the inhabitants in the remote mountain regions have only limited income opportunities. Mountain soils are barren and the conditions of life are harsh.
To achieve sustainable improvements, the stakeholders have joined forces: The countries in the region founded the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in 1984 in Kathmandu. With support from the Austrian Development Agency and many other donors, ICIMOD works on projects for improving the conditions of life for people and protecting the environment in the Himalayas-Hindu Kush. A particular concern is conserving biodiversity in the region: With Austrian funding, for example, lake regions are being put to sustainable economic use for fish farming and floriculture as well as tourism.
One of the great problems in the region is glacial lake outbursts due to progressively melting glaciers. The Austrian Development Agency supports a project to minimise the risks of glacial lake outbursts with a mix of policy advice, awareness campaigns, early warning systems and technical measures. As part of the pilot project, the water level has been lowered in the Thorthormi glacial lake in North Bhutan to avert the threat of a rupture in the moraines.