Ladakh Ecological Development Group

Project period: 
08/2012 – 04/2015

Project area:

Funding agencies:
European Commission
German Research Foundation

Project partners:
Ladakh Ecological Development Group, India (LEDeG), Bonn Asia Center (BAZ) at University of Bonn, ZEF Water Pollution and Health Initiative

This interdisciplinary study analyses towns facing large-scale transformation due to rapid economic growth (e.g. through tourism) against the backdrop of the modernization process of water management in light of urbanization and globalization in Asia. The focus of the project is the small town Leh in the Himalayas in India, 3500 metres above sea level. With a population of only around 30,000 people, Leh is a fertile green oasis in a valley surrounded by semi-arid desert where glacial melt water has for centuries nurtured agriculture. In the last few decades however, Leh has been inundated by tourists, resulting in rapid urban growth. Parallel economic growth and changing lifestyles are exacerbating already serious environmental concerns caused by lack of adequate drinking water provision and wastewater management.
The aim of URWAHL is to propose alternative future development scenarios for water resources management in Leh designed to make the town more resilient to socio-economic and climatic change. Various methods are being used, including questionnaire and interview surveys, analysis of government health data, mapping using Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery. Stakeholder workshops and capacity development are also being conducted.
This study advocates integrated urban planning and a decentralized sewage system for parts of Leh, for water resources conservation, energy efficiency, food security and reduction of risk to human health. That is, the project aims to address the water energy food nexus in Leh. With such aims, Leh can serve as a model for Eco-town development in the region.
This research is supported by a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (PIRG06-GA-2009-256555) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) (KE 1710/1-1), and is conducted in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).


  • Dr. Daphne Gondhalekar, Scientific Director, Centre for Urban Ecology and Climate Adaptation (ZSK), Technical University Munich (TUM) and Research Fellow, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany
  • Phunchok Namgail, LEDeG
  • Stanzin Dorje, LEDeG
  • Adris Akhtar, TUM and ZEF
  • Dr. Sven Nussbaum, Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL), University of Bonn
  • Jenny Kebschull, ZFL
  • Tobias Doblinger, TUM
  • Florian Englberger, TUM