Policy and institutions in adaptation to climate change: case study on flood mitigation infrastructure in India and Nepal

Floods are the most common water-induced hazard in the Hindu Kush Himalayas and have seriously affected the lives and livelihoods of many people, especially those living in the Brahmaputra and Koshi river basins. Government efforts to protect people from flood waters and mitigate the impacts of flood have largely consisted of structural measures like embankments; however, these have met with mixed success. When properly maintained, flood embankments can protect communities from flooding and enable them to sustain agricultural activities. However, the failure of embankments, often due to poor maintenance can result in devastating floods. This publication explores the governance of flood mitigation infrastructure in parts of India and Nepal. It also covers the traditional coping and adaptation strategies of local communities to deal with floods, which are being increasingly challenged due to the changing nature of floods and other water hazards attributed largely to climate change.