US embassy cable - 02KATHMANDU685

DROUGHT ASSESSMENT/MITIGATION IN WESTERN S ASIA

Identifier: 02KATHMANDU685
Wikileaks: View 02KATHMANDU685 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu
Created: 2002-04-05 04:03:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: SENV EAID EAGR ECON SOCI PK IN AF XD REO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 KATHMANDU 000685 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SA, SA/PAB, SA/INS, SA/RA AND OES/PCI (SALZBERG) 
DEPT PLEASE PASS AID/ANE (J WILSON) AND OFDA (G HAVENS) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, EAID, EAGR, ECON, SOCI, PK, IN, AF, XD, REO 
SUBJECT: DROUGHT ASSESSMENT/MITIGATION IN WESTERN S ASIA 
 
REFS: A) ISLAMABAD 2069  B) KATHMANDU 371  C) STATE 31622 
 
1.  In response to ref a, the Regional Environment Office 
(REO) for South Asia in Kathmandu offers the following 
proposal on drought assessment and mitigation for selected 
regions of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  While we 
have used the format prescribed by ref c, REO would also 
like to submit this proposal to the South Asia Bureau for 
funding consideration under FY02 ESF (in addition to the 
proposals contained in ref b), as well as to AID/ANE and 
OFDA.  This proposal will include a rapid drought 
assessment and identification of short-to-medium term 
mitigation measures for the ongoing drought in Western 
South Asia.  It is intended to complement the Adaptive 
Strategies study, which has recently been approved for 
funding under FY01 South Asia Bureau ESF. The implementing 
agency would be the International Water management 
Institute (IMWI), with headquarters in Colombo, a regional 
office in Lahore, and project office in Vidhyanagar, 
Gujarat. 
 
2.  IWMI's proposal as elaborated in collaboration with 
the Regional Environment Office for South Asia: 
 
A.  Project Title: Drought Assessment and Potential for 
Mitigation in Western South Asia 
 
B.  Department Strategic Objective: 
 
The project addresses several Department strategic 
objectives: 
 
-- To render humanitarian assistance where needed 
-- To foster regional stability 
-- To safeguard the environment 
-- To promote sustainable economic development and 
livelihoods in developing countries. 
 
This project aims to promote greater political, economic 
and social stability in drought-ravaged and politically 
volatile western parts of South Asia (Afghanistan, 
Pakistan and western India).  A collaborative assessment 
of current drought conditions will be followed by 
identification of tangible solutions and strategies for: 
-- Addressing immediate needs/alleviating severe impacts 
-- Addressing long term needs for mitigative measures, 
drought preparedness and sustainable water resources 
planning and management. 
 
 
C. Problem/Issue: 
 
South and Southwest Asia has been affected by a persistent 
multi-year drought.  From a global perspective, this 
represents the largest region of persistent precipitation 
deficits over the last four years.  More than 100 million 
people have been affected in the region, with severe 
impacts being felt in Gujarat and Rajasthan states in 
India, Pakistan's Sind and Baluchistan provinces, and in 
large swaths of Afghanistan and Iran.  Political 
instability, war and economic isolation have further 
exacerbated the effects of drought. 
 
Afghanistan is particularly vulnerable, having witnessed 
over two decades of war and civil strife that has been 
further complicated by the operations of entrenched 
terrorist groups inside Afghanistan and the international 
action against them, as well as the recent earthquake in 
northern Afghanistan.  Pakistan has also been experiencing 
economic and social disruptions that pose difficulties for 
the Government's fight against international terrorism and 
domestic religious extremism. In India, drought and flood- 
prone Gujarat has recently seen the worst communal 
violence in a decade. 
 
The severity and persistence of the drought has produced a 
wide range of impacts across the region.  In many areas, 
there is widespread scarcity of potable water as well as 
depleted supplies for irrigation, industry and sanitation. 
Agricultural production has been severely affected, and 
there has been a significant reduction in the livestock 
populations that are the mainstay of subsistence 
livelihoods, especially in Afghanistan. Large population 
movements due to the combination of drought and civil 
strife have aggravated and compounded these miseries for 
communities, often with disproportionate impacts on women 
and children. 
 
Given the magnitude and persistence of this drought, 
severe impacts such as degradation of soil and vegetation, 
increased vulnerability to flooding, and depletion in 
groundwater stocks will likely persist even after a return 
to normal precipitation.  Reduction of seed stocks may 
also impact agricultural communities' capacity to recover 
once the drought ends.  The continuing political 
instability in the region and social and economic 
pressures may exacerbate these impacts even further.  With 
increasing population, these regions face serious problems 
of overall water shortages and scarcity that must be 
addressed immediately, because failure to act now will 
greatly compound the cost and complexity of later remedial 
efforts. 
 
The ability of governments in the region and international 
relief agencies to deal with this situation is constrained 
by the absence of reliable data, information networks, and 
professional and institutional capacities.  There is an 
urgent need for a full assessment of the drought situation 
and possible relief efforts, and a longer-term need to 
address the problem of overall water scarcity through 
improved and sustainable management of available water 
resources. 
 
The proposed project will review and update information on 
the drought situation in western parts of South Asia 
(Afghanistan, Pakistan and western India) by analyzing 
hydrological and human factors, and recommend concrete and 
tangible steps for future management of droughts: short, 
medium and long-term measures. 
 
However, effective use of climate information in drought 
management and response will require a sustained 
interaction between climate analysts, impact specialists, 
local planners and humanitarian relief agencies.  There is 
also an urgent need to improve the climate observation 
network in the region, as well as to develop mechanisms to 
make such data available for timely input into climate 
forecasting models. 
 
 
D.  Anticipated Results: 
 
The project will result in the following outputs: 
 
-- A report assessing the drought situation in western 
parts of South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan and western 
India) and identifying potential solutions to alleviate 
drought stress in the short, medium, and long term. 
 
-- An interim "action strategy" for regional governments, 
relief agencies and local communities to manage and 
mitigate severe effects of drought.  This will include 
developing effective drought management guidelines and 
promoting appropriate land and water management 
technologies and systems to mitigate the impact of future 
droughts. 
 
-- An analysis of present coping strategies for droughts 
in the respective countries chosen, and lessons learned. 
 
-- Development of a Decision Support Tool for planning 
drought mitigation and to map out drought vulnerability 
regions, using Remote Sensing and GIS. 
 
-- Identification of institutional and policy gaps in 
drought management and mitigation and, with stakeholders' 
participation, suggesting ways and means to improve 
mitigation efforts. 
 
-- Development of a project proposal intended to lead to a 
detailed, long-term program of action involving key 
players in drought management and mitigation. 
 
The project will be conducted in a collaborative and 
participatory manner involving national government 
agencies, the local public and other stakeholders affected 
by the drought.  The project intends to promote a sense of 
unity and goodwill in the region as a whole and generate 
motivation to work together to fight against the common 
enemy, drought.  In particular, we expect the following 
longer-term outcomes: 
-- Improved regional coordination in assessing and 
addressing drought. 
 
-- Greater trust and cooperation among the three countries 
to address critical transboundary environmental 
conditions. 
 
 
E.  How this project will advance U.S. interests: 
 
The U.S. Government's top priority is to defeat terrorism 
in all its forms.  Linked to this a vital U.S. interest in 
fostering stability in South Asia.  U.S. strategic goals 
in the region include helping to rebuild Afghanistan and 
its institutions, promoting political stability and 
democracy in Pakistan and encouraging peaceful dialogue 
between India and Pakistan. 
 
The knowledge, tools and information networks that this 
project will produce will further these objectives.  In 
the short term, regional governments and the international 
relief agencies will be able to take cost-effective 
measures to deal with the severe effects of drought.  In 
the medium term, timely collection, analysis and sharing 
of data, and the development and application of decision 
support tools will result in improved predictability and 
preparedness for droughts, reducing the financial and 
political costs of mitigation to society.  In the long 
term, improved and sustainable planning and management of 
water resources will contribute to a reduction of 
conflicts within societies and lessen tensions over water 
between countries. 
 
 
F.  Contribution to political and economic stability: 
 
Senior U.S. policy makers and analysts have described 
South Asia as one of the most dangerous places in the 
contemporary world.  The long-standing dispute over 
Kashmir has dogged the two nuclear-armed rivals, India and 
Pakistan, for the greater part of the last 53 years, 
sending the two countries repeatedly into war.  At this 
moment, the bulk of the armies of the two countries are 
amassed on either side of their common border. 
 
In the wake of the September 11 tragedy, the global nature 
of instability in South Asia and its links to U.S. 
security have become ever more clear.  Despite the defeat 
of the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, threats of terrorist 
attacks against American interests remain.  Religious 
extremists continue to pose a danger to Pakistan's secular 
order. 
 
In the long run, however, the countries of the region are 
bound to each other by shared space and common interests, 
which cannot be addressed without a degree of cooperation. 
Fortunately, the scientific community and many civil 
society organizations in both India and Pakistan are 
willing to engage each other in a constructive dialogue to 
begin to address issues of vital importance to people 
living in both countries.  The impact of the current 
drought constitutes an opportunity for professional and 
scientific circles to collaborate in dealing with this 
common problem.  At a recent conference of the South Asian 
Water Forum (SAWAF) in Katmandu, Nepal, delegates from all 
South Asian countries underlined the need for regional 
experts to work in concert to address non-political cross- 
border issues, such as water and drought management. 
 
For reasons of recent history, relations between Pakistan 
and the new interim government in Afghanistan are at best 
tenuous, despite the declaration of a new beginning by 
both governments.  The best way to translate good 
intentions into good practice is through confidence- 
building measures, starting with important and non- 
contentious issues such as drought management.  The 
present proposal is intended to build vital bridges of 
confidence between these neighbors whose long-term social, 
economic and environmental interest are inter-linked by 
rivers, mountains and other vital ecological systems.  The 
project will also contribute to reducing political and 
military tensions by engaging scientists, practitioners 
and policymakers from all three countries to use their 
knowledge and skills in resolving issues of common long- 
term interest to the whole region. 
 
 
G. Proposed recipients of funds: 
 
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) will 
be the recipient of the funds.  The proposed vehicle for 
obligating the funds is a grant to the Headquarters of 
IWMI, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  IWMI - HQ will 
manage and account for the funds and implement the project 
through its regional office in Lahore, Pakistan and 
project office in Vidhyanagar, Gujarat, India. 
 
 
H. Detailed project Description: 
 
Purpose and Objectives: 
 
The purpose of the project is to carry out a rapid 
scientific assessment of the drought situation in the 
region and recommend concrete and tangible solutions: 
immediate, medium and long-term measures to address the 
problem.  The project will also be an effort to prepare 
the groundwork for a larger initiative, linking local and 
regional efforts in drought management to global networks 
in climate forecasting and improving disaster relief 
planning and operations. 
 
The project has two specific objectives: 
 
(1) Develop an interim "action strategy" for managing and 
mitigating the severe effects of drought for regional 
governments, relief agencies and local communities.  This 
will include developing effective drought management 
guidelines and promoting appropriate land and water 
management technology and management systems to mitigate 
the impacts of future droughts, and 
 
(2) Develop a detailed proposal for a regional initiative. 
With support from donors, international research 
organizations, and development banks, this would bring 
together expertise from several related fields, bridge 
gaps in current knowledge, and establish a framework for 
researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to develop 
and implement an effective drought management plan in the 
region.   Especially in Afghanistan, capacity-building is 
an important need not yet built-in as a specific objective 
for this project, but to be included in the larger 
initiative. 
 
Research sites: 
 
The project will focus on three typical provinces of the 
chosen countries where drought occurs frequently.  The 
possible candidate sites are Kutch or Saurashtra region in 
Gujarat, India; Baluchistan or Sind in Pakistan; and Balkh 
or Faryab provinces in Afghanistan. 
 
Research Methodology and activities: 
 
Many quantitative measures of drought have been developed, 
of which the most frequently used are those developed by 
Wayne Palmer of U.S.A. in the 1960s.  These include the 
Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), the Palmer 
Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI), the Palmer Z-index and 
the Crop Moisture Index (CMI).  Among these, the PDSI is 
superior in that it accounts not only for precipitation 
totals, but also for temperature, evapotranspiration, 
surface run off and soil recharge. The CMI measures short- 
term agricultural drought on a weekly scale. The project 
will use these and other advanced techniques to measure 
the severity of the drought situation in the region.  The 
project will: 
 
-- Review long term hydrological, meteorological and human- 
related factors affecting drought, and will carry out an 
analysis of drought characteristics, frequency of 
occurrence, severity, and management- institutional- and 
policy-related gaps in drought mitigation programs. 
 
-- Study the coping strategies adopted by various 
stakeholders in mitigating the drought and document what 
happens during a drought, as this is the time people learn 
(or don't learn) how to adapt to shortages. Such research- 
based information would be useful in facing future 
droughts. 
 
-- Assess hot spots through the use of remote sensing and 
field surveys to study crop failure, the variety of means 
adopted to relieve water shortages, out-migration 
(including movement of cattle and livestock), and coping 
strategies for meeting drinking water requirements. 
 
-- Document successful innovative procedures adopted by 
people, NGOs, government agencies and aid-agencies in 
mitigating drought and disseminate this information 
through cross-border exchanges. 
 
-- Rely mainly on secondary data collected from various 
sources, in addition to carrying out selected field survey 
using techniques such as process documentation, 
questionnaire surveys, and focus group discussions with 
actors involved in the process at all levels.  Data will 
also be collected using remote sensing techniques.  All 
collected data will be put into a GIS format to develop a 
Decision Support Tool. 
 
IMWI will conduct a final workshop during which national 
government agencies, international experts, donor 
representatives, and national and international disaster 
relief organizations will discuss suggestions advanced, 
exchange information and chart out a "Way Forward." 
 
 
I. Performance targets and period of performance: 
 
Preparation: 
(1) Identification and consultation with key players and 
stakeholders: 2 months 
(2) Final selection of the research sites: 3 months 
(3) Fine-tune research methodology, research questions and 
computer models: 3 months 
 
Implementation: 
(1) Data collection and analysis: 6 months 
(2) Draft report on the assessment of the drought 
situation: 9 months 
(3) Draft report on coping strategies, assessing the 
capacity and effectiveness of respective agencies as well 
as community efforts: 12 months 
 
Completion and dissemination: 
(1) Development of a Decision Support Tool for planning 
drought mitigation and mapping out drought vulnerability 
regions, using Remote Sensing and GIS: 18 months 
(2) Identification of institutional and policy gaps in 
drought management and mitigation and, with stakeholders' 
participation, suggesting ways and means to improve 
mitigation efforts: 18 months 
(3) Development of a project proposal intended to lead to 
a detailed action program for long-term drought management 
in the region: 18 months 
 
 
J.  Assumptions: 
 
The security situation inside Afghanistan will improve 
sufficiently in the coming months for scientific personnel 
to travel and to collect relevant data. 
 
The government of Afghanistan will develop adequate 
capacity to participate meaningfully in the final workshop 
and subsequent multi-party initiative. 
 
Diplomatic approaches can overcome barriers to travel 
between India and Pakistan, in order to permit the 
meaningful participation of Indian and Pakistani partners. 
Alternatively, a neutral venue such as Kathmandu could be 
selected. 
 
 
K. Total proposed cost: USD 343,600. 
 
 
L. Funding request: 
 
 
Item                   Unit     Cost    Quantity  Total 
 
1. Senior research 
personnel              Day      650     150      97,500 
 
2. Mid-level research 
personnel              Day      450     90       40,500 
 
3. Travel/per diem     Trip     1000    30       30,000 
 
4. Consumables, 
satellite images, etc  L/S      5,000             5,000 
 
5. Workshop            Number   30,000  1        30,000 
 
6. Sub-total                                    203,000 
 
7. Administrative Cost (15 percent of Subtotal)  30,450 
 
8. Contingencies (5 percent of Subtotal)                   10,150 
 
9. Contract research through partners           100,000 
10. Total                                       343,600 
 
Schedule of disbursement 
 
Two equal installments, disbursed at the start and middle 
of the 18-month project period. 
 
 
M. Principal Partners 
 
-- International Water Management Institute 
-- Global Water Partnership 
-- Care International 
-- Disaster relief and water resources affiliated agencies 
of respective governments 
-- International relief agencies such as OFDA, Red Cross 
and others 
-- Multilateral/bilateral donors 
-- USGS 
-- NOAA 
-- Institute for Social and Environmental Transition 
 
 
N.  Roles and resources partners will contribute: 
 
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) will 
be the lead agency for implementing this project.  IWMI is 
an international non-profit research organization 
specialized in water and land management.  IWMI is part of 
a global coalition of 16 international agricultural 
research centers, collectively known as the Consultative 
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), or 
Future Harvest Centers.  IWMI has extensive experience in 
finding and promoting integrated and sustainable solutions 
to water problems, with a bias for river basins as 
appropriate units of water management.  With its head 
offices located in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and regional and 
country offices in over 15 locations in Asia and Africa, 
IWMI has a team of over 150 scientists, making it the 
largest international organization scientific in the 
developing world in the field of water management.  IWMI 
has strong professional presence in Pakistan and India, 
and is part of a new CGIAR initiative for the agricultural 
revival of Afghanistan. 
 
Other partners: 
 
The project will be implemented in collaboration with 
disaster prevention and water management agencies in all 
three countries.  International research, development and 
relief agencies will also cooperate, including the Global 
Water Partnership (GWP) and its regional and country 
chapters in South Asia, the Aga Khan Rural Support Program 
(AKRSP) India and CARE International. 
 
Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global initiative 
dedicated to promoting best policies and practices in 
integrated water resource management.  With a small 
secretariat in Stockholm, and three resource centers, of 
 
SIPDIS 
which IWMI is one, GWP is a decentralized network of 
independent stakeholders, including national governments, 
research and non-profit organizations, NGOs, UN agencies, 
multilateral banks, private companies, and other 
institutional stakeholders involved in water resource 
management.  The GWP facilitates the exchange of 
knowledge, experience and the practice of integrated water 
resource management.  GWP has active country water 
partnerships in both India and Pakistan. 
 
AKRSP (I) is a community-based rural development 
initiative in Gujarat state with extensive experience in 
developing and promoting cost-effective water management 
techniques and technologies. 
 
CARE International has an on-going agreement with IWMI to 
collaborate on projects designed to serve smallholders in 
water-stressed areas.  The major focus of this partnership 
is on developing and promoting cost-effective technologies 
and management methods, such as water harvesting, storage 
and application.  The two organizations plan to join hands 
in assessing the needs and developing appropriate 
responses to water and agricultural problems in 
Afghanistan. 
 
Multilateral and bilateral donors and investment banks 
will be presented with project proposal for a larger 
initiative required to address chronic drought conditions 
in the region.  We expect that some of these donors will 
be interested in funding elements identified in the 
proposal which address their priorities, such as poverty 
alleviation and environmental management. 
 
In addition, the project will seek to develop close links 
with international, regional and national players in the 
fields of climate and drought monitoring, 
mitigation/relief, and water management.  The project will 
also seek technical cooperation from USG agencies involved 
in drought assessment, including OFDA, USAID, NOAA, and 
USGS.  The project will coordinate closely with ISET's 
Adaptive Strategies study (funded through South Asia 
Bureau ESF) to share results and experience, and to avoid 
duplication of effort. 
 
 
O. OES sponsoring Office: OES/PCI 
 
MALINOWSKI 

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