Key elements of NHI’s projects are knowledge generation and transference. In the case of NHI’s Global Dam Reoperation Initiative (GDRI), the focus is to develop a knowledge base or improve the current state of knowledge on dam reoperation tools and techniques that can lead to a global transformation in the siting, design and operations of power, water supply and flood control dams to make them more environmentally compatible.
The GDRI project in the Lower Mekong River Basin is a partnership between NHI and the national governments to identify and fill the knowledge gaps, and assess alternatives for siting, designing and operating hydropower dams that can maintain the natural productivity of the Mekong river system. Other regional GDRI components will demonstrate the efficacy of groundwater banking in conjunction with reservoir reoperation in irrigation water supply systems. Yet others will demonstrate the efficacy of utilizing floodplain storage in conjunction with reservoirs to reduce flood risks and restore aquatic habitats.
Knowledge sharing and dissemination take places through a process of workshops and trainings; high level briefings to the development assistance agencies, dam operators, national governments, non-governmental organizations and the academic community, and providing project publications and outputs – including a rapid assessment tool to ascertain the best dams for successful reoperation – on an online knowledge sharing platform. NHI produced a 40-minute video animation that depicts how rivers function, how dams impair those functions, and how dams can be re-operated to restore much of the natural productivity and to adapt to climate change, all at the global scale. Our hope is to ignite interest by other organizations and funding institutions to join our campaign to positively influence how dams are developed and operated for the benefit of both humans and nature.