Project Team: Anoj Khanal and Hayley Saul (supervisor)

Project Support and Funding: The Leverhulme Trust and the Landscape Research Group

The Kathmandu Valley is home to some of the oldest archaeological remains of water management technologies in Nepal, dating from at least the Licchavi Period (c. 400-750 AD). This phase witnessed the development of an innovative ‘hiti’ (water spout) system for commoning Kathmandu’s liquid landscape, incorporating ornate ‘rajkulo’ (ponds) ‘ghats’ (cremation platforms adjacent to sacred rivers) and ‘jahdu’ (drinking water basins). The politics of water has played a prominent role in the city’s development ever since, and good water governance poses significant challenges for the city’s future. Many of these groundwater-fed sources have been damaged by haphazard urban growth and unregulated extraction since at least the 1980s, and in 2019 piped supplies of water could only fulfil a quarter of the city’s demand (Shrestha and Seddon 2020). Water security, therefore, has risen to prominence for the two billion people that rely on the ‘water tower of Asia’ – the Himalayas – for drinking and washing resources, irrigation, ecosystem services and energy (Scott et al. 2019). This project will use a suite of geophysical, biomolecular and social science methods to record traditional water technologies and propose culturally appropriate ways to protect these biocultural knowledges and materialities.

Sustainable Development Goal/s: