Grants News: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Grants Offer Greg Dow Discusses an RGS-IBG-Funded Project That's Helping a Village in Northern India Move to Be Closer to a Reliable Water Source

Article excerpt

Relocation, relocation, relocation

The ancient kingdom of Zanskar, located within the region of Ladakh in the far north of India among the mountains of the Himalaya, is a high altitude semi desert The surrounding terrain is characterised by precipitous mountain slopes and dramatic glaciated valleys. The jagged mountains shield the region from time Indian monsoon, and Zanskar receives very little precipitation throughout the summer. Traditionally, snowmelt provides the region's main source of water but, in recent years, much of Zanskar has seen decreasing snowmelt yields. For many villages, irrigation has become a major problem.

Supported by a Geographical Fieldwork Grant, Catherine Airlie and her team of fellow students from the University of Durham travelled to the region to profile Kumi, a village that has been greatly affected by water shortages. Kumi has been hit so hard by the lack of snowmelt that the entire village is going to be moved two kilometres to a site closer to the Tsarap River. Kumi is also close to a major new road construction that will improve access to the region but will bring change, as it will enable trekkers and tourists to visit the area in ever increasing numbers.

Airlie's team hoped to document these changes and provide useful, practical data to the people of Kumi regarding the changes they could expect from the move. The team performed a detailed comparative study of the soil and water quality at the proposed and current village sites and used this information to assess the sites' productivity. …