Groundwater resilience to climate change and abstraction in the Indo-Gangetic basin

IGB Groundwater Resilience logo
Ganges River - one of the major rivers that flow within the Indo-Gangetic basin

Groundwater is a vital resource in the Indo-Gangetic basin

The Indo-Gangetic basin (IGB) aquifer is one of the world's most important transboundary water resources and the most heavily exploited aquifer in the world. Despite this, there are few, if any, studies discussing the transboundary hydrogeology of the aquifer system.

This three-year research programme, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), has strengthened the evidence base linking groundwater resources, climate variability and abstraction with emerging policy responses in the IGB.

This project was funded by the DFID South Asia research hub and ran from 2012 to 2015.

Research objective

The aim of the project was to improve and develop new understanding of the IGB aquifer at a transboundary-scale. There were two main objectives:

  • develop a strategic overview assessment of the occurrence and status of groundwater resources in the IGB
  • strengthen the evidence base linking groundwater resources, climate and abstraction, through a series of case studies

Final project outputs

Research approach

A basin-wide assessment systematically reviewed and collated the best available national, regional and local-scale geological, sedimentological, hydrogeological, hydrochemical, hydrological and climatological datasets for the aquifer. New basin-wide maps and seven major groundwater typologies were developed to illustrate the significant spatial differences in aquifer properties and areas of different resilience to abstraction and climate change.

Targeted case studies examined critical knowledge gaps in groundwater response to climate and abstraction in different parts of the basin. For example:

Project team

The project consortium team involved science teams from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, alongside researchers from the UK, USA and The Netherlands. Led by the BGS, the main institutions within the consortium were: IIT Kharagpur, ISET-Nepal, ISET-International, MetaMeta, the National Institute of Hydrology (Roorkee), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), University College London and the University of Dhaka.

A four-day workshop in Delhi in November 2013 brought together all the project partners to discuss each component of the project, data, case study progress and groundwater typologies framework.

Project timeline

Start date: 01 June 2012
Case studies fieldwork: December 2012–April 2014
Workshops: November 2013
End date: March 2015


Contact Alan MacDonald for further information.

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