Photo: Jamil Akhtar/UNDP Pakistan


Mountain regions are complex in their geomorphology and therefore more vulnerable to variations in temperatures and changes in patterns of hydrology. Both have a direct impact on mountain communities, adding fragility to lives already clinging tenuously to eco-systems for sustenance.

The communities living in the shadow of the Karakoram Mountains in the north of Pakistan are part of the Himalayan, Hindukush (HKH) Mountains, also known as the Third Pole for its vast collection of glaciers and water reserves. However, close proximity to water sources has become both a bane and a boon for these communities who depend on melt water for agriculture and domestic use. Its erratic variation, as a result of climate change, either accelerates melting that wreaks havoc through floods, or sometimes significantly reduces water quantity which results in food insecurity and extreme water shortage for domestic needs.

The projects implemented by the Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization with the financial assistance of the Global Water Challenge and the support of UNDP (2016-2021), under the New World Programme, helped transform the lives of four such communities in Gilgit-Baltistan. The projects have positively impacted the lives of 11812 un-served and under-served communities by providing them with a reliable source of water to enhance their agricultural productivity, restore eco-systems, facilitate access to safe drinking water, and create local stewardship to enable community to plot their own future development trajectory.

Today, the communities can rightfully claim to have an institutional platform for participatory and inclusive decision making with proportionate gender representation and youth participation. 859 hectares is now under productive use, contributing to food security, reduction in poverty, income diversification and increase in household savings. The indirect benefits include giving voices to the voiceless, empowering women and enabling growth opportunities for female children to achieve their full potential.


Photo: Jamil Akhtar/UNDP Pakistan


9.2157 billion liters of water tapped from nature was ploughed back into nature and community to nurture lives and replenish ecosystems so that the communities could thrive in tandem. The cumulative impact of the projects has helped in restoring degraded ecology, protecting the environment, improving socio-economic conditions of communities, and creating an enabling environment for biodiversity to flourish. 


Story by Arish Naseem, Research and Reporting Officer, ECCU, UNDP Pakistan


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