About the Indus Basin Knowledge Platform

What is it?

The Indus Basin Knowledge Platform (IBKP) is a comprehensive and systematically set up source of information on developmental issues in the Indus Basin. It aims to bridge the science-policy interface, by bringing together scientific material from multiple disciplines such as spatial and time series biophysical datasets and maps, academic publications, as well as policy documents and legal frameworks in effect at regional to sub-national level. Designed as an interactive knowledge platform, the IBKP includes access to different types of media from blogposts to video. Since promoting connectivity and informed dialogue are core objectives of the IBKP, it also provides a dedicated space for partners and other actors to showcase their past or ongoing initiatives, or inform others of planned activities.

Why do we need it?

Encompassing Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan, the Indus Basin has been subject to decades of conflict and regional tensions, which have exacerbated poverty and social vulnerability in the basin. A high dependence on natural resources for human well-being demands systems for understanding and managing such resources across a shared landscape, a challenge exemplified in the case of shared rivers and other water resources. While rapid economic development gives a new pretext for good water governance, especially when shared across national and sub-national boundaries, it also increases the scope and degree of competition in water resources management in general, and with regard to water access in particular. Despite significant expertise and donor support over many decades, water management across the Indus Basin remains poor. Poor water resources management could also be viewed as a missed opportunity to drive resilient economic growth and poverty reduction, and has instead continued vulnerability to floods and droughts. In fact, the Indus Basin epitomises a grand challenge due to its high poverty rates, high groundwater extraction, increased environmental degradation and risk of floods and droughts due to climate change.

The IBKP stems from the conviction that access to information is a fundamental condition if these trends are to be reversed; if competition can be replaced with more cooperative resource management, fostered through more deliberative decision-making processes. Presently, information on water and other natural resources lie scattered and are often hard to access, which precludes its use in public policy making and practice. The IBKP therefore seeks to make information on the Indus Basin more accessible to a wide audience (including policy makers, development practitioners, academics, civil society organisations and media), to increase the likelihood of information exchanges, which in turn will inform change in the basin. By making available a broad range of data and other forms of information, the IBKP also provides opportunities to construct a multi-dimensional understanding of issues that is key to appreciating and addressing the trade-offs inherent in complex resource management challenges, towards more inclusive decision making and greater regional cooperation on basin wide development.

How can you contribute?

Given the scale of the Indus Basin, the utility of the IBKP over time will depend on contributions from a broad range of stakeholders, and thus IWMI and DFID seek both long term partnerships and other contributions. You can contribute data, multi-media or a brief description and link to your past or present initiatives in the Indus Basin. Any data contributed will pass through a review to ensure compatibility with the IBKP's database. Multi-media will be reviewed to ensure the IBKP maintains its political neutrality. All data contributed will include metadata that will acknowledge the contributor. The link to submitting data is here, publications here and multimedia here. If you or your organization wishes to become a partner of the IBKP where your logo will be added to the front page of the IBKP website, please contact Dr Alan Nicol, Theme Leader, Governance, Gender and Poverty, a.nicol@cgiar.org.

Who developed it and will manage it?

The IBKP was developed by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) through a partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) under its South Asia Water Governance Programme (SAWGP).. This Programme promotes both technical and deliberative approaches to enable a broad set of stakeholders to identify, frame and resolve challenges surrounding international rivers in the region. As such, the IBKP forms one of several initiatives that collectively seek to facilitate opportunities for informed constructive dialogue within the region that build a common understanding of problems and possible solutions, and improves the quality of investments in the basin. The IBKP is housed at IWMI's headquarters in Palawatte, Sri Lanka, and represents a neutral custodian of the Platform. As such, IWMI has undertaken to manage this Platform for a minimum of 10 years. As part of the CGIAR system, IWMI leads research on water management within the developing world, and currently works in six major international basins across Africa and Asia, in the Ganges, Indus, Mekong, Nile, Salween and Volta. Within Asia it has generated evidence to inform water policy, and shape future generations of researchers and decision-makers through its post-doctoral programmes. Its experience in data management, analytical work and facilitating dialogue are all relevant to the creation and management of the IBKP and the overall goal of promoting collaborative natural resource management and greater well-being in the Indus Basin.

How does it work?

The web-based user interface is linked to two main databases: one storing biophysical and socio-economic data and the other storing the metadata and links to well over 1,000 publications covering a range of topics related to natural resources management and human development in the Indus Basin. Links to other content such as video, blogs and media articles that are deemed to be more scientific rather than political in nature are also available. While the main page of the IBKP will feature more recent material, the user may access information through three types of searches. One is an interactive spatial search tool that uses a simple map of the Indus Basin as its starting point. A second options is through keywords, where the user is free to enter any word or phrase. The third option uses a pre-defined thematic search. In all cases, the user is able to define a search scope to the basin, country or sub-country (Province/State) scale.

Search results may encompass a range of information types, from datasets, to publications and multi-media. These are organised under several tabs for the ease of the user. Biophysical and socio-economic data are directly downloadable where intellectual property rights allow for this. Where restrictions to direct access apply, the user will be directed to the source. In the case of publications, rather than provide the soft copy itself, the search results provide the link to the soft copy as part of the publication metadata, to avoid making the IBKP overly weighty. All users will be requested to kindly provide a few descriptive details each time they use the IBKP to enable analyses of usage with a view to effective improvements to the service over time.