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Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF)
Regional Workshop on GLOF Risk Reduction in the Himalayas
Glacial lake
People in the Himalayan belt that encompasses parts of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan face similar kinds of disasters, the socio-economic impact is more or less similar in nature and hence similar risk mitigation strategies need to be adopted to counter the impact of the same. According to a Regional Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF)Risk Mitigation Project covering India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, hazards in the region are bound into a delicate relationship of cause and effect and together combine to increase risk in the region.
As part of an exercise to bring together all stakeholders to share and learn from the field and discuss research work, a two day regional workshop on GLOF Risk reduction was held on January 20-12 2009 in Paro, Bhutan.

This workshop will be attended by Senior government functionaries and officials, UN officials, Journalists, NGO functionaries and Research Scientists from the four project countries; India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, and from UK, Switzerland and Thailand. The workshop aims at providing a platform for discussion on the subject and policy inputs to the countries in the region as to how GLOF risk reduction can be factored in to development projects and community level contingency planning.

The Regional project, supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department through its Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) and UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery has undertaken a Preparatory Assessment Study on the impact of GLOFs in the four project areas, which involved extensive desk review of available literature, community consultations through focus group discussions, interviews with the help of questionnaires followed by community consultation workshops to triangulate the findings of the study. Other activities included trainings on first aid and search and rescue to community volunteers in the affected regions.

The project has also been instrumental in promoting knowledge and experience sharing through various networks like the DRM-Asia Community of Practice (DRM-Asia), Energy & Environment network (EE-Net), Solution Exchange DRM India and Bhutan, Disaster Preparedness Network Nepal (DP-Net) and Pamir Times, in Pakistan.

The regional project has also generated global discussions on the importance of non-structural risk reduction measures such as appropriate early warning systems, awareness measures, coordinated preparedness and land use planning and community-based risk mitigation and preparedness approaches in terms of GLOF risk reduction. Most past risk reduction efforts around GLOFs have focused on hydrological and geo-technical/engineering solutions. Construction of channels for gradual and planned water release from glacial lakes and compiling inventories of glaciers and glacial lakes using GIS and remote sensing (RS) has been the most common response. The strategies identified under this project seek to compliment the current approaches to ensure a holistic GLOF mitigation strategy.

The Regional GLOF Risk Reduction Project is expected to enhance the understanding of social and economic risks associated with GLOFs; explore community based approaches for minimizing the impact of GLOF events; establish a regional network in order to promote holistic approaches to GLOF risk reduction and support national agencies and other stakeholders in developing projects aimed at GLOF risk reduction. The project was concluded in February 2009.

Source, UNDP Bhutan 2008
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