General Information

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The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is a vehicle through which Member States can upgrade their knowledge of the water cycle and thereby increase their capacity to better manage and develop their water resources. It aims at the improvement of the scientific technological basis for the development of methods for the rational management of water resources. The theme of the present cycle, Fifth Phase, IHP-V (1996-2001), is Hydrology and Water Resources Development in a Vulnerable Environment. The programme constitutes a framework for applied research and education in the field of hydrology and water management. It should be regarded as a dynamic concept whose aim is to improve the links between research, application and education and to promote scientific and educational activities.


There are three main clusters containing problems related to:


·         Resource process and management studies

·         Regional studies

·         Transfer of knowledge, information and technology


The clusters are obviously not independent of one another. There are overlaps and interactions. For example, the first cluster has elements which also belong to the second cluster. The third cluster is an umbrella which covers the former two, it being understood that the transfer of Knowledge, Information and Technology is the very essence and primary objective of the Programme. Within the set of clusters eight themes have been identified as a support structure for the whole Programme. They cut across different hydrological scales and different climatic regions, but have integrated water management in a vulnerable environment as a common issue. The themes are seen as cornerstones within which projects can be flexibly implemented. The eight themes are:


  1. Global hydrological and biochemical processes.
  2. Eco hydrological processes in the surficial zone.
  3. Groundwater resources at risk.
  4. Strategies for water resources management in emergency and conflicting situations.
  5. Integrated water resources management in arid and semi-arid zones.
  6. Humid tropics hydrology and water management.
  7. Integrated urban water management.
  8. Transfer of Knowledge, Information and Technology (KIT)





The machinery of the IHP was established at the beginning of the IHD (International Hydrological Decade) in the mid sixties. At national level, the IHP is coordinated and executed by National Committees. The UNESCO Regional Offices are responsible for regional implementation. At global level the Intergovernmental Council for IHP plans, coordinates and monitors all IHP activities which are executed by the Secretariat either directly or with the help of committees, working groups or rapports.


The National Committees have been set up by the respective governments taking into account that the IHP is an intergovernmental programme. Where no National Committee has been established, a Focal Point or National Correspondent in the form of an organization or individual has been identified for channeling information about IHP to and from the country. The composition of the National Committee differs from country to country, but the IHP Council recommends that the composition includes public agencies in hydrology and water resources, private individuals, relevant university faculties and departments, research institutes, consulting agencies, professional and learned societies. The National Committees play a critical role in the implementation of the IHP. These roles differ from country to country depending on the national capabilities and the institutional structure for hydrological studies and water resources management.