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Regional Cooperation on Water

South Asia: Regional Cooperation and Integration

South Asia: Regional Cooperation and Integration

Challenges: The imperative of cooperation

The South Asia region is characterized by numerous international river basins, many of which are shared with countries beyond the region.

• Several countries have almost 100% of their territory and population within international basins. (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan)

• Seven countries share rivers in the Himalayas. Common issues to address in the Himalayan region relate to the expected impacts of climate change, such as receding glaciers, increased floods and incidents of glacial lake bursts over the coming decades, followed by much less water availability after 2050.

• Conflicting demands on these international waters, and consequent tensions, already exist – both within and between countries, and as the populations and economies of countries grow, they will undoubtedly intensify.

• Cooperation is an important objective and a regional (even global) public good that will support growth and peace.

Benefits and Recommendations

• Cooperation can enable better environmental management, providing benefits to the river, and underpinning all other benefits that can be derived.

• Cooperation can yield major benefits from the river including increased irrigated agriculture and hydropower production.

• Cooperation will result in economic benefits associated with lesser tension among countries.

• Communities are performing a variety of tasks to increase their incomes and protect the environment.

• Watershed management and storage in Nepal would generate hydro and irrigation benefits in Nepal and flood control benefits in Bihar. Water storage in northeast India could provide hydropower and flood control in India and floor control and dry season water augmentation in Bangladesh and between Afghaninstan and Pakistan on regional water issues.

• International rivers can be catalytic agents, with cooperation that yields benefits from the river and reduces costs because of the river, paving the way to much greater interaction between states, such as the movement of labor, goods and services, yielding benefits beyond the river.

• The potential benefits of closer integration in water management and development then are strongly related to creating opportunities for improving the prospects for growth and prosperity across the South Asia region.

• Regional cooperation in energy and water could produce huge gains for South Asia by providing improved clean energy supply for economic growth.

• Cross-border management of water resources could help control flooding across countries sharing a basin and improve the availability of water. Improved inland water transport linkages and trade facilitation could have multiple benefits and could also improve inter-regional trade.

More on Regional water

Additional Resources

- South Asia: Regional Growth & Integration
South Asia is the least integrated region in the world. Closer integration can be an effective tool in addressing energy shortage, improve connectivity, and promote peace and stability. (Read More »)

- South Asia: Development Data
A wide range of social and economic measures on South Asia, including links to the World Bank's most important online development databases. (Read More »)

- South Asia: Analysis and Research
Compilation of all the World Bank's publications on South Asia, with 'search' options and links to analysis and research on other South Asian countries. (Read More »)

- World Bank Program in South Asia
Launching pad to all information on World Bank activities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.(Read More »)

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