[HimalAndes Focused Conversation] A.Ponce: Introduction to Week 2

Dear KM4Dev-ers,

It gives me great pleasure to begin my task as moderator of this second
week of the  focused conversation on "Knowledge sharing around water
management innovations in the Andes and Himalayas".

This week we will share four excellent case studies which will allow us
find a common base to bridge the Andes and the Himalayas, two distant
mountain ecosystems populated by ancient cultures who have found
fascinating ways to manage the challenges they face to preserve their
natural resources through innovative means.

The first two cases cover aspects related to water management in both the
ancient Qapa Nam ( Inka Trail) and the newly developed Great Himalayan
trail. Both trails cover  several  thousand kilometers in the Andes and the
Himalayas.  Both the ancient and new trail are still in use by communities
to facilitate commerce and communication sharing along their routes which
cross existing international boundaries. Important aspects of the
survivability of the communities along both routes are the water channels,
reservoirs and other ancient and modern methods of water management on the
routes.  In addition the community’s share a common need for effective
measures to cope with potential water related natural disasters. The Qapac
Nam, covering 6 countries and 30,000km in the Andes), is being proposed by
UNESCO for the World Heritage List status,  while the Great Himalayan Trail
is under development with only Nepal and Bhutan having defined and
documented routes so far..

Both cases were written by two experts who have never met, however both
have walked thousands of kilometers along these routes to learn more about
them, their origins, their communities and the messages they have for us.
Both cases stand by their own, but they are deeply inter-related and share
similar approaches. This is the beauty of these forums; facilitating
virtual discussions and twining initiatives from distant regions

The first case is titled “*Himalayas: Innovations and challenges on water
security and management across Nepal”*. The author (Paribesh Pradhan) from
kathmandu is an electronics and communication engineer with a diploma in
social sciences.He is a specialist in development and knowledge management
focused on environment and climate change issues. Paribesh was recently
engaged in a project walking from east to west of Nepal, a distance of 1555
KM, in 98 days along the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT). The aim was to
document communities’ perception of change and stories of sustainable
adaptation practices, vulnerabilities and impacts of climate change. The
case provides a brief overview on physical geography and demography of
Nepal and familiarizes the readers with the Nepal Himalayas. The available
data on water security paints a picture of how the changing climate would
impact irrigation systems, agro-processing mills, hydroelectricity plants
and drinking water supply; and, therefore, have socio-economic consequences
bring more developmental challenges. However, despite such consequences and
challenges, Nepal can still offer the World some examples of good practices
and local innovations. Two such innovative case studies on water management
are presented here, based upon the observation during the author’s project,
‘The Great Himalaya Trail – My Climate Initiative’.

*You can read this case from the following link to KM4Dev Wiki:  *

The second case comes from Peru. The author (Guillermo Castro) was Born in
Lima and was the Founder and first Executive Director of the Patronato
Qhapaq Ñan (Inka Trail Patronage) and a member at the National Working
Group on Mountain Ecosystems of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He
is currently working as a professional guide, specialist in ecotourism,
rural and community-based tourism, as well as sustainable development and
conservation in mountain areas. Guillermo is author of the book “Guarco &
Chincha, Settlements and Trails in Ancient Peru”

The third case comes from India, the author (Kalyan Paul) introduces how
economic growth at the cost of ecological security has led to the
impoverishment of marginal mountain farmers dependent upon forests for
sustainable livelihoods. He co-founded Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development
Foundation, a voluntary organisation which promotes holistic river basin
restoration through active engagement of communities in the central and
western Himalayan regions of India.  Kalyan was selected as a Ashoka Fellow
in the same year due to his role as a prime change maker. He continues to
live and work from a tiny hamlet at 6,000 feet in the central Himalaya;
focused about bringing forth sustainable change and development at the
grassroots, through active engagement of communities.

The fourth case comes from Southern Peru. The author (Ramiro Ortega)
presents how Andean farmer are expert decoders of codes that Nature itself
is responsible for sending as true preventive "warnings". His case
introduces the amazing ability of the Andean farmer to read and interpret  the
Signs or "Messages", and applying this traditional knowledge to face issues
affecting them, such as: drought, frost, hail, floods, and other natural

Let me encourage this week’s discussion by asking the audience to read the
articles and try to respond the following simple questions:

-          How could we help mountain communities to preserve traditional
knowledge on water management issues ?

-          How could we assist them to collect, improve and apply this
knowledge on their daily work?

-          How could we transfer this knowledge among different mountain

Finally, let me express my gratitude to the authors of the excellent case
studies for their valuable contribution to this KM4Dev Focused
Conversation, and look forward for a second week debate with an active

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Ana Maria Ponce

KM4Dev Core Group Member

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