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Home > Basin > Indo-Ganges > Indo-Gangetic Basin Focal Project (PN60)

Full Project Title: Tackling water and food crisis in South Asia: Insights from the Indo-Gangetic Basin (PN60)


The indo-Gangetic basin is currently witnessing an unstoppable boom in groundwater pumping in its northwestern region. At the same time a large region in the eastern part of the basin (eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh in Ganga basin) is unable to make good use of the available resource due to economic scarcity and policy inadequacy. Potential impacts of climate change on the Himalayan ecosystem and the changes in severity and frequency of floods shall further heighten the management challenges.

The project was developed with the objective of conducting basin-wide analysis of the conditions, constraints and opportunities for improving agricultural water productivity and alleviating poverty through high potential interventions. This objective was accomplished through rigorous analysis and mapping of water availability and access, poverty, and productivity of water and identifying potential interventions that contribute to improved water productivity and poverty alleviation in the Indo-Gangetic basin.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • Groundwater is the dominant water source and under threat in the IG basin. Rapid agriculture expansion and subsequent utilization of available water resources of the basin has placed the basin at risk with water scarcity issues on one hand, and flooding problems on the other, the scales of which are further exacerbated by impacts of climate change.
  • Though surplus food produced in the basin is the major source of regional food security, water productivity of both rice and wheat is generally low, implying great scope for improvement. The variability in water productivity shows no direct relationship with climatic conditions, implying the significance of irrigation infrastructure and associated crop and water management.
  • Combining meteorological data, ground survey and national census with remotely sensed imagery, an innovative approach was developed to assess rice and wheat water consumption (actual ET), rice and wheat productivity, and finally crop WP in IG basin. These maps further help to identify and quantify the ‘bright spots’ and ‘hot spots’ of water productivity in the basin.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • In its short 2-year duration, the project’s sharing of the generated new knowledge and creating sustainable repository of knowledge was the most important element towards creation of impact of the project.
  • Poor and small holding farmers with low productivity: As the ultimate beneficiaries, this group benefits through better targeting of the development programs aimed at livelihood improvement.
  • Scientists/ Researchers: Comprehensive data set for the basin; RS-GIS-census integrated system for WP assessment.
  • Policy makers: highlighting the water-energy nexus for poor farmers of the Ganges basin; better quantification of the water-land-poverty nexus and its alleviation.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN60 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

Journal articles

  1. Tushaar Shah, Mehmood Ul Hassan, Muhammad Zubair Khattak, Parth Sarthi Banerjee, O.P. Singh, Saeed Ur Rehman (2009). Is Irrigation Water Free? A Reality Check in the Indo-Gangetic Basin. World Development. Volume 37, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 422-434.
  2. M. D. Ahmad, H. Turral and A. Nazeer (2009). Diagnosing irrigation performance and water productivity through satellite remote sensing and secondary data in a large irrigation system of Pakistan. Agricultural Water Management, Volume 96, Issue 4, April 2009, Pages 551-564.
  3. Christopher. A. Scott and Bharat Sharma. 2009. Energy supply and expansion of irrigation in the Indus-Ganges basin. International Journal of River Basin Management. Vol 7 (2):119-124.
  4. Asad Sarwar Qureshi, Peter G. McCornick, A. Sarwar and Bharat R. Sharma, 2009. Challenges and Prospects of Sustainable Groundwater Management in the Indus Basin, Pakistan. Water Resources Management, Springer, Netherlands.
  5. Cai X L, Sharma B. 2009.Remote sensing and census based assessment and scope for improvement of rice and wheat water productivity in the Indo-Gangetic Basin. Science in China Press/ Springer, Series E-Tech Science, 52(11):3300-3308
  6. Cai, X.L.; B.R. Sharma. 2010. Integrating remote sensing, census and weather data for an assessment of rice yield, water consumption and water productivity in the Indo-Gangetic river basin. Agricultural Water Management (Elsevier), 97:309-316.

Project reports/working papers

  1. Bharat R Sharma, Upali A Amarasinghe, Alok Sikka (2008). Indo-Gangetic River Basins: Summary Situation Analysis. Project report.
  2. Dhruba Pant (2009). Irrigation and tenancy in Nepali agriculture: A rapid appraisal in three districts. Draft Project Report.
  3. Hosterman, H R., PG McCornick, EJ Kistin, A.Pant, B R Sharma, L. Bharati. 2009. Water and climate change adaptation: Focus on the Ganges- Brahmaputra river system. Duke University. IWMI Working Paper (09-03), 34 pp. Available at:
  4. de Coiidappa, D„ L. Bharati, B.R. Sharma.2009. Assessment and planning of water resources of the Indo-Ganges with Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model: Current situation and possible scenarios. IWMI Research Report (in progress).
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.