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Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Springs and Springsheds with a Special Focus on Revival of Drying Springs

A four days’ workshop knowledge sharing workshop on “Springs and Springshed management for reviving drying springs” was organized by Watershed Management Division, Department of Forests & Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests and Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with National Environment Commission Secretariat of Royal Government of Bhutan, Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), Pune and Rural Management and Development Department (RM&DD), Government of Sikkim, India. The knowledge sharing workshop which started on 15th November ended on 18th November with three days of theoretical session and one day of practical field demonstration. The opening session of the workshop was graced by Hon’ble Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests.

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Mountain springs are the primary water source for millions of people in the mid hills of the Himalayas. Both rural and urban communities depend on springs for meeting their drinking, domestic and agricultural water needs. Springs also contribute to the base flows of many rivers in this region. There is increasing evidence that springs are drying up or their discharge is reducing and as a result communities are facing unprecedented water stress. The exact extent of this problem is not well known given that there is dearth of scientific studies.

Springs are a part of groundwater system and the science of hydrogeology that governs the occurrence and movement of water in the underground aquifers i.e. water bearing geological formations is not well understood. Springs are also part of complex socio-technical and informal governance systems with pronounced gender and equity dimensions and these systems are not well understood either. This often results in misconception regarding springs and this in turn, creates misaligned policies that exacerbate the problem.

Change in bio-physical landscape (e.g. landuse and vegetation) and possible climate change is widely implicated for drying of springs. Also, rapid socio-economic and demographic changes and infrastructure (dams; roads etc.) have also impacted springs. But there is very little systematic knowledge to effectively link spring discharge with climate change; vegetation change, or socio-economic and demographic changes, and infrastructure development.

Drying of springs and its consequence is a regional phenomenon that cuts across the entire HKH from Afghanistan all the way to Myanmar. Few local and national organizations have started scientific studies and policy advocacy on springs, but more needs to be done, especially given the regional nature of the problem. Therefore, to reduce the water stress faced by the mountain communities and to improve their lives and livelihoods, there is a need to manage springs and springsheds in a more scientific way.

The main objective of this workshop was to share knowledge upon step-wise methodology with common approaches to deal with the issue of drying springs, how to revive them, and manage their springsheds applying the knowledge of hydrogeology and socio-governance aspects. It is hoped that such comprehensive technical and theoretical knowledge about hydrogeology and socio-governance aspects of springs will enhance the capacity of the participants in the management of springs and springsheds in their working area.

Four-day long training workshop was designed to familiarize the participants with the concept of springs and springshed management with a special focus on the issue of revival of springs. The course will provide both theoretical and practical knowledge upon springs revival and springshed management. There will be focus both on socio-technical and hydrogeological aspects of springs and their springsheds management. It is hoped that this training will contribute in framing a common understanding of springshed management research and implementation among key partners and stakeholders working on water and springshed management in the region. It is also hoped that key stakeholders from Bhutan who are working on springshed management can apply this methodology for reviving springs and in the process generate knowledge.

The training workshop was attended by officials from agencies outside Ministry of Agriculture (NECS, MoWHS, MoH, Thimphu Thromde, RUB (Royal Thimphu College & College of Natural Resources), Tarayana, RSPN and NCHM) and within our Ministry (Department of Agriculture and Department of Forests & Park Services). Participants expressed their satisfaction with the training especially in relation to watershed and springshed management.

Watershed Management Division,
Department of Forests & Park Services,
Ministry of Agriculture & Forests.