TROSA (Transboundary Rivers of South Asia) project

TROSA (Transboundary Rivers of South Asia) project:


River basin management is one of the important aspects of economic development and human wellbeing. In this context, Brahmaputra River Basin is one of such basins where millions of people are living who are significantly dependent on river water for their livelihoods such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and industries. Brahmaputra river basin is shared between the four countries – China (50.5% of the total basin area), India (33.6%), Bangladesh (8.1%), and Bhutan (7.8%) featuring the river basin as one of the unique trans-boundary river basins in the world (Barua, 2018).

Trans-boundary rivers are important as water is among the most shared’ resources on Earth and about 50% the Earth’s land surface area is comprised of shared river and about 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in river basins (Jagerskog, 2006). Similarly, a significant number of people are dependent on the trans-boundary river crossing Bhutan’s international border to India. It is estimated that there are more than 50 rivers flowing from Bhutan to Assam in India where more than 70% of the people in Assam depend on those rivers as natural resources for their livelihoods.

One of the concepts acknowledged in managing trans-boundary river basin management and governance is the Integrated Watershed Resources Management which strongly promotes holistic and participatory approaches in managing resources (Campbell, 2016; Reddy et al 2017; Budryte et al 2018). Moreover, certain traditional knowledge system of the communities is also important in river basin management as this has been practiced by communities since a long time. This project therefore analyzes the transboundary river basin management in Saralbhanga river basin shared by Assam and Bhutan with a special reference to Bhutan India hydropower cooperation.

Project Objectives:

Work package 1: Mapping river profiles, Land use, biodiversity and other ecological characteristics.

Work package 2: document community knowledge and perceptions about water resource management, their livelihoods related to water resources, and role of women in decision making related to water resources management.

Work package 3: Listing of Institution related to water governance in Saralbhanga river basin with special reference to the water sharing mechanism and hydropower cooperation between Bhutan and India.

Partner Roles:

College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa: Jointly designs and conducts the research, takes principal responsibilities in communicating with Resource Persons and HUC Secretariat, handling the fund, preparing and submitting narrative and financial reports. Jointly takes responsibility in all project deliverables as stated in Part 9 of the ToR.

Bodoland University, Assam, India: Jointly designs and conducts the research, takes proactive role in communicating with Resource Persons and HUC Secretariat, contributes to the preparation and delivery of narrative and financial reports. Jointly takes responsibility in all project deliverables as stated in Part 9 of the ToR.

Expected outcomes and longer term impact:

Expected outcome

This study is unique in the sense that the two different community living in the same river basin and sharing the water for their livelihoods but located in a different community. So this study would document the number of rivers and the management practices at local level. Such study is important in understanding and establishing the transboundary cooperation between countries even with regard to big rivers.

The second outcome is that though the institutions are geographically located very close to each other but in absence of such opportunities the research collaboration has not taken place. Therefore the through this project we would be able to collaborate and continue similar research in future. The third outcome is that the project definitely helps build capacity of researchers located in the upstream and the downstream of same river which can be hypothesized that the research would contribute to build partnerships and collaboration even beyond academic Institutions.

Long term Impact

Although there have been already national level cooperation but not at the state or local level cooperation across the national boundary. Therefore this study would offer the common ground and a window of opportunity to foster coordinated and sustainable water resources development and management between Assam in India and Bhutan. Such cooperation could serve as the unique example and a guiding principles for water based collaborative research and development in the region and beyond.