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Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy

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  • Home > HELP: Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy - Phase III (2008-2013) - Updated: 23-09-2009 3:01 pm

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    HELP is a cross cutting and transdisciplinary initiative of the United Nations Educational Scientific Organization (UNESCO) led by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP).

    HELP is creating a new approach to integrated catchment management through the creation of a framework for water law and policy experts, water resource managers and water scientists to work together on water-related problems. From the technical perspective, the broad objectives of HELP are to strengthen field-oriented, experimental hydrology using the drainage basin (up to scales 104 to 106 km2 as the framework. Water related physical (hydrological, climatological, ecological) and non-physical (technical, sociological, economics, administrative, law) observations will be made in these catchments which address the most critical policy and management issues as perceived by “users” under different biophysical and socio-economic environments, taking into account needs for sustainable development. The desire for this new programme to be truly “user-driven” will require the active involvement of both policy and facilitating (water and land resource managers) groups to set the policy agenda and ensure the scientific results will benefit societal needs through the revision of policy and management practices.

     The HELP International Network



    Why H.E.L.P. ?

    At present there is a "Paradigm Lock" between outdated accepted practices adopted in water resource management for the benefit of stakeholders and the application of more recent scientific findings. Scientific research is isolated by lack of proven utility, whilst water policy and management is isolated by legal and professional precedence.

    The HELP Approach on the ground:

    The first step is the “Assessment Stage” of HELP, which synthesises existing knowledge, integrates such information across disciplines as part of IWRM, and provides two main types of outputs:


    -    simulation of future change scenarios (e.g., land-use, demography, or socioeconomics)  in the water cycle and supply/demand for dif­ferent future catchment states, as well as checking model predictions based on known changes in the catchment environmental-social status.

    -    definition of “gaps” in scientific knowledge (e.g., process hydrology under­standing) that require development of a technical implementation strategy by hy­drologists in collaboration with basin stakeholders and managers. Such steps are taken to support already-de­fined land-water management and policy issues.


    The outputs from the Assessment Stage answer a common criticism from pol­icymakers, especially at the national-government level, that scientists do not share knowledge with users. Integration of knowledge across disciplines provides a product for improving IWRM as well as for informing the public. This can be achieved by simulating alternative management decisions (i.e., via DSS) linked with ecohydrology and socioeco­nomic sustainability.


    After establishing an agenda for scientific research and creating a science plan, HELP advances to a Research Stage  This second stage requires continued dialogue with land-water managers and policymakers to ensure that research results are used to up­date management and policy tools. The manager’s role is critical since basin managers are at the fulcrum of HELP. To be effective, managers  must have a thorough appreciation of scientific research and its role in enhancing management and policy . The promotion of a “bottom-up” approach within the network of HELP basins and close linkages between those basins, allows sharing and exchange of information on IWRM across a spectrum of environmental and sociocultural/socioeconomic conditions. Such steps move beyond the macroscale and address the intri­cacies and complexities of IWRM down to basins at the mesoscale (~10 000 km2) and even to communities at the microscale (~ 10 km2).



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    HELP Newsletter - Issue 1

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    HELP Newsletter - Issue 3

    HELP Newsletter - Issue 4

    HELP Newsletter - Issue 5

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