Nexus pilot project development in Leh Town, India

The project aim is to develop a WEF Nexus pilot project in Leh Town in Ladakh, a semi-arid high-altitude region in the Indian Himalayas. Leh, with ca. 60.000 inhabitants and situated at the Indus River has expanded very rapidly in recent decades due to growth of the tourism industry. As a result, the town faces serious water-related development challenges. Currently, a centralized sewage system, which is very water and energy intensive, is being constructed. The project advocates decentralized urban water reclamation with integrated resource recovery for water and energy conservation, and to support food security as part of a climate change adaptation strategy. Several stakeholder meetings have been held since 2012, at which the Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) was present as well as senior government and NGO advisors.

The project takes a part of Leh not being connected to the centralized sewage system, the Ladakh University Campus, in planning phase, ca. 20 km downriver of Leh, and the Mahabodi International Meditation Campus (MIMC) and Residential School, ca. 10 km upriver of Leh, as case study locations.

Spatial analysis using geographic information systems (GIS) and interview surveys support discussion on appropriate technology options as part of a participatory multi-stakeholder process. Urban development scenarios are visualized using urban design, linked to an awareness and education campaign. The result of this process is the development of WEF Nexus pilot projects ready for implementation. Further, the project is developing WEF Nexus key indicators for operationalization of the WEF Nexus approach.

The project is being conducted in collaboration with His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Venerable Sanghasena (founder of MIMC), Water Foundation, of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is patron, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG), and Engineers without Borders.

For more information on the case study in Leh, see the documentary film: “If not now, when? Planning for the urban Water-Energy-Food Nexus”:, password: wefnexusleh


Dr. Daphne Gondhalekar

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg E. Drewes


Dr. Daphne Gondhalekar

Natalie Paez


Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection (StMUV)

Bavarian Environment Agency (LfU)