Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 525–534 | Cite as

Scarcity within opulence: Water management in the Karakoram Mountains revisited

  • Hermann KreutzmannEmail author


Water management in general and in the Indus Basin in particular is concerned with the energy-efficient transportation of hydrologically exploitable resources from the upper zone to climatically favourable areas where irrigation helps to supersede arid conditions for the cultivation of crops and watering of meadows. In other words: Human intervention sets the stage for the allocation of water from a wider catchment area in a smaller habitat where this resource is deficient. Emphasis on mountain irrigation practices is counteracted with developments in the forelands where different frame conditions prevail and peculiar development problems occur. In dealing with the importance of water from the mountain regions three dimensions have to be evaluated: 1) natural factors and their validity for the environmental frame conditions and technological adaptation processes; 2) social factors and their impact on culture, economy and equitability; 3) institutional factors and their importance for sustainable growth and for the implementation of development projects. In the study of decentralized irrigation systems in high mountain regions of the Indus Basin a systems theoretical approach values the complexity of interrelationships between different systems elements. Human activities in arid mountain regions are restricted by limiting ecological factors and are characterized by certain utilization and adaptive strategies.


Irrigation Water management Institutions Development Hunza Valley Indus Basin Pakistan 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Development StudiesFreie Universitaet BerlinBerlinGermany

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