Forest, Wildlife & Environment Department Government of Gilgit-Baltistan


Scaling-up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) risk reduction in Northern Pakistan


The Scaling-up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is a donor funded project of United Nations Development Programme. Over the past several years, many glaciers in mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan have been melting, leaving behind new glacial lakes holding millions of cubic meters of water. Usually contained by dams of loose boulders and soil, these lakes present a risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). As the number and extent of these lakes grow, the flood risk for the downstream communities potentially vulnerable to extensive loss of lives and severe damage to road infrastructure, hydroelectric power facilities, and agriculture. This project will look at the factors that lead to GLOFs, and the measures that local populations can take to adapt to this increasing threat.

Due to rising temperatures, glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountain ranges (the Hindu Kush, Himalayas and Karakorum) are melting rapidly and a total of 3,044 glacial lakes have developed in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Of these, 33 glacial lakes have been assessed to be prone to hazardous glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF). GLOF are sudden events which can release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, leading to the loss of lives, property and livelihoods amongst remote and impoverished mountain communities. Over 7.1 million people in GB and KP are vulnerable; in these areas, 26.7 percent and 22 percent of the population, respectively, are below the poverty line.

The Scaling-up of GLOF risk reduction in Northern Pakistan (GLOF-II) project is a continuation of the four-year ‘Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from GLOF in Northern Pakistan’ (GLOF-I) project. GLOF-I helped vulnerable communities prepare for and mitigate GLOF risks through early warning systems, enhanced infrastructure and community-based disaster risk management.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) funded GLOF-II project will target GLOF issues as a whole in GB. This project will lead to improving understanding and management of climate-induced risks and vulnerabilities; and to device designs that reduce multiple risks. The project will integrate with situ physical and societal observations with geospatial analyses, intensive glacial hydrology and outburst flood modeling, key respondents’ interviews, and community level mappings and focus groups. The project will assess outburst flood-related processes that include glacier dynamics, hydrological flows, and sediment/debris transport models. These natural system impacts will be integrated with the human science aspects to evaluate the socio-economic impacts of potential outburst flood events on communities, livelihood, and infrastructure.


GLOF-II builds on the measures piloted by GLOF-I and aims to empower communities to identify and manage risks associated with GLOFs and related impacts of climate change, strengthen public services to lower the risk of disasters related to GLOF, and improve community preparedness and disaster response. The project will also support the development of sustainable options for livelihoods in project areas, with a particular focus on the participation of women in ensuring food security and livelihoods. 

Expected results:

GLOF-II will scale up GLOF-I from its original two districts (one each in KP and GB) to cover 10 districts, benefiting 29 million people or 15 percent of the population of Pakistan. Expected results by the end of the project are:

  • At least two policies reviewed and/or revised to address or incorporate GLOF risk reduction.
  • In target communities, 95 percent of households able to receive and respond to early warnings and take the appropriate action.
  • At least 250 small-scale engineering structures established to reduce the effects of GLOF events on livelihoods, such as tree plantation, controlled drainage and mini dams.
  • Fifty weather monitoring stations to collect meteorological data in catchment areas; 408 river discharge sensors to collect river flood data. This data will inform hydrological modelling and help develop village hazard watch groups.
  • To improve food security and reduce flood risks due to deforestation and inefficient water use, 65,000 women will be trained in home gardening, 240 water-efficient farming technologies will be installed and 35,000 hectares of land will be reforested


The project is being implemented by the UNDP Pakistan in close collaboration of the government of Pakistan with all relevant government departments as active implementing partners. the planning and development department Gilgit Baltistan is the focal and coordinating unit for project implementation. the GB forest, wildlife and environment department with the mandate to conserve, protect, manage, and develop the natural environment of Gilgit Baltistan and with a fact that it deals with climate change, the department has been entrusted to implement the activities related with climate change, glaciology, bioengineering and bio diversity. The department, through active community participation, and in close collaboration with GB P&DD and UNDP GLOF II regional office is carrying out the relevant interventions.