Pakistan Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in Northern Pakistan

Status: Approved

Project approved for funding by the Adaptation Fund Board, June 2010

Project Description

As glaciers retreat due to increasing temperatures glacial lakes start to form and rapidly fill up behind natural moraine or ice dams at the bottom or on top of these glaciers. The ice or sediment bodies that contain the lakes can breach suddenly, leading to a discharge of huge volumes of water and debris. These Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs have the potential to release millions of cubic meters of water and debris, with peak flows as high as 15,000 cubic meters per second, with severe consequences for lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and economic assets for the exposed population.

There is a need for a formal monitoring and evaluation system to validate the information on the status of potentially hazardous glacial lakes. A digital repository is be required to consolidate the existing knowledge on glaciers, glacial lakes, and GLOF events, which will enhance the ability of policy makers to understand the associated vulnerabilities and finance/implement appropriate risk mitigation and disaster preparedness measures.

Communities settling in GLOF-prone mountain valleys are highly vulnerable, with vulnerabilities being compounded by poverty, increasing pressure on natural resources, high-risk settlement patterns, and the need for greater education and public awareness on how to reduce risk from GLOF threats. Resources from the Adaptation Fund will therefore be required to ensure local community participation in GLOF risk management and disaster prevention activities, and to create an enabling institutional environment at all levels of policy making, investment and communications planning to support community-based implementation of targeted risk reduction activities. This will have a positive effect not only on communal resilience, but will also be helpful in connecting isolated target communities to broader economic and social development benefits.

The proposed project will reduce risks and vulnerabilities from GLOFs and snow-melt flash floods in Northern Pakistan. The main objectives of the project are as follows:

1) To develop the human and technical capacity of public institutions to understand and

address immediate GLOF risks for vulnerable communities in Northern Pakistan

2) To enable vulnerable local communities in northern areas of Pakistan to better understand

and respond to GLOF risks and thereby adapt to growing climate change pressures

The design and costing of the proposed intervention has been aligned with the experiences and approaches of other GLOF projects in the HKH region, most notably the LDCF-funded project “Reducing Climate Change-induced Risks and Vulnerabilities from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in the Punakha-Wangdi and Chamkhar Valleys” in Bhutan, which is in the second year of its implementation. This project has already demonstrated the viability of an approach that integrates elements of early warning and drainage-based mitigation with policy alignment and community-based capacity development.

Project Details

Implementing agency: UNDP

Executing agency: Ministry of Environment

Proposed value: $3,960,000

Duration: 2011-2015

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