The Brahmaputra River basin is shared between China, India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. China and India have already fought a war in the territory through which the river flows, and Bangladesh faces incredible human security pressures in its basin area that will only magnify with upstream river practices. River systems are managed differently in different countries, and dam-building activities and water diversion plans threaten the stability of the whole region. Still, there is no sign of an effective bilateral or multilateral water management accord in the Brahmaputra basin. Countries sharing a river need to resolve the issues through effective hydro-diplomacy. Changes in a river’s dynamics are considered ‘legitimate rights’ of countries on the rivers passing through their territories. But the bilateral tensions that spur the dam-building race make the river a victim, with devastating consequences for the fragile ecology and the people of the region.
Countries in the Brahmaputra basin share the same water resources and ecological corridors, and any disaster that strikes upon a country will have a transboundary impact on other countries in the region. Due to these associated disaster risks, countries in the region require data sharing and cooperation at a multilateral level. Can addressing water-security challenges using a disaster lens create an alternative pathway for pooling resources, building political will, preventing conflicts, and promoting transboundary cooperation between India and China?
Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman holds a PhD in Development Studies from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, Assam. His areas of interests include research on Northeast India, mainly on issues relating to transboundary water sharing and hydropower dams, roads and connectivity infrastructures, conflict and insurgency, peace building, development politics, migration and cross border exchanges. His research specialization is on border studies in Northeast India and transboundary water sharing and management issues between China, India and Bangladesh. He is committed to grassroots based alternative community work and development models. He has travelled extensively in parts of Northeast India for research work. He has led research teams in Northeast India, and has travelled parts in China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar for research. He has worked as a consultant on many research projects in Northeast India. He has teaching experience as Visiting Faculty and has participated in several workshops and academic conferences.
Dr. Ruth Gamble is Lecturer in History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is a historian of Tibet and the Himalayas, with a particular interest in this region and its rapidly changing environment. She is currently writing a history of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River. She has also published articles on the region’s ecological politics, literature, and histories. She was recently awarded an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship.
Vishwa Ranjan Sinha is Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands (South Asia), Science and Strategy Group Organization at the IUCN Asia Regional Office, Bangkok. He has more than ten years of experience managing projects on the governance of shared water resources and nature-based solutions in the GBM and the Mekong region. He is serving as the Regional Manager of IUCN BRIDGE GBM Project and Secretary, GBM CSO Network (a network of more than 25 civil society organizations a network of more than 25 civil society organizations from five GBM countries working on regional water cooperation). In the Meghna basin, shared by Bangladesh and India, Mr. Sinha is coordinating joint research and multi-stakeholder dialogues on the transboundary benefit-sharing opportunities in the Meghna basin, with the view to enhance the implementation of SGD 6.5 – implementation of IWRM at all levels.
Ambika Vishwanath is co-founder and Director at Kubernein Initiative. Ambika is a geopolitical analyst and water security specialist with over 13 years of experience in the field of governance and foreign policy. She has led track- two diplomacy efforts and consulted with several governments and international organizations in the MENA region, Europe and India, and helped shape their policies in the field of conflict resolution, water diplomacy and security.
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