The Himalayan Glaciers are the source of freshwater for almost half of the world’s population in Asia. The region’s majestic peaks and glacial blue rivers have attracted countless tourists from around the world. Encompassing territories in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China, the region is suffering from climate change impacts including rapid glacial melt, drought, and extreme weather events that, exacerbated by deforestation, result in devastating flash floods. The region is also littered with trash, especially plastic and non-biodegradable bottles and packaging. Based in Leh, Ladakh, India, where the mighty Indus River winds its way from the Tibetan Plateau on its way to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea, Himalayan Glacier Waterkeeper is also dealing with poor waste and sewage infrastructure and rapid development, mainly for tourism. Local, regional, and global advocacy for watershed protection is of critical importance for this region.
Dechan Yangdol became the Himalayan Glacier Waterkeeper in January 2017. Located in Ladakh, India, Himalayan Glacier Waterkeeper was founded in 2014 to protect the local stretch of the mighty Indus River and its tributaries, including the Zanskar River. Dechan is leading a team of Affiliates located in villages throughout the region in monitoring the conditions and quality of their tokpo (streams), and in educating the local people about the threats and impacts to their well-being. Dechan and colleagues from Live to Love, the sponsoring organization of Himalayan Glacier Waterkeeper and Affiliates, are working to increase environmental awareness throughout the Himalayas and advocating for protection of their waterways.Dechan is a native Ladakhi and grew up in Leh. As a child, she learned from her grandfather how to care for the water in the traditional ways, including local village water councils (chur-pon) that remain effective today. Dechan graduated in 2014 with a Masters of Philosophy in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and a Masters of Arts in International Relations in 2012. She is happy to live and work in Ladakh to protect the waterways and culture of her ancestral home.
Hemis Complex, Zangsti
Leh, Ladakh 194101