data.thethirdpole is an open source geospatial database:  a simple, searchable catalogue of water-related datasets sourced from leading organisations monitoring water in Asia. All data hosted on this site is available– with attribution to the data provider—for download in multiple formats. This site is intended to provide access to actionable data that can be used to enhance the work of reporters, researchers, policy makers, and analysts.


thethirdpole.net is an online forum providing accessible, high-quality information and analysis on all aspects of transboundary water in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region. It was launched in 2009  as a project of chinadialogue, in partnership with Internews Earth Journalism Network and fosters constructive debate on the sustainable management of these vital resources. 

The Hindu Kush - Himalaya region is known as The Third Pole because it contains the largest reserve of fresh water outside the polar regions. This is the source of the 10 major river systems that provide irrigation, power and drinking water for over 1.3 billion people – nearly 20% of the world’s population. 

Many people in the Himalayan watersheds face high risks from flooding, water shortage and pollution, with climate change working as a threat multiplier. Future population growth, climatic variation and increasing demands on scarce water resources from agriculture and industry will increase these risks.

The region’s river systems are interrelated and cross many national boundaries. Protecting vital ecosystems and restoring damaged ones demands systemic understanding, basin level cooperation, sound planning and good decision-making. This in turn demands the most comprehensive information possible to build expertise, long-term thinking and collaboration between governments, experts and civil organisations. In light of these issues, access to quality, timely information is more critical than ever.

Data partnerships

thethirdpole.net works in collaboration with partners across the Hindu Kush Himalaya region and the world. The following institutions provide publicly accessible data to data.thethirdpole.net:

Geo-Journalism initiative in the Hindu Kush Himalaya Region

thethirdpole.net brings together important environmental data in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region for public use through data.thethirdpole.net. Though a large amount of data on various environmental issues is generated in this region, not enough of this data has been shared, due to political and administrative obstacles and lack of trust. In addition, information available in the public domain is complex and may be difficult for a lay person or policy maker to understand. At the same time, the need for accurate and timely information is growing.

On this website, complex datasets owned by various government and non-government institutions have been converted to simple formats which can be used to create maps and graphics, and to enhance understanding of the complex impacts on river systems that can be generated by multiple factors. This is an open platform that seeks to make this important data available and comprehensible to diverse users for many purposes.

All the data on data.thethirdpole.net is regularly updated and freely available, as long as users credit the original source and abide by the terms of the data licence. For a tutorial on how to access the data and use the web platform, visit the help section

Topics we cover

  •  Administrative Catagories
  •  Basin Boundries
  • Cryosphere
  •  Deltas and Coasts
  •  Floods and Natural Disasters
  •  River Water Flow (discharge)
  •  Sanitation
  •  Surface Water Quality
  •  Water Infrastructure
  •  Water Usage

Our Region

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China (Tibetan Plateau), India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan.

Team Members

  • James Fahn, Executive Director, Internews Earth Journalism Network
  • Willie Shubert, Senior Programme Coordinator, Internews Earth Journalism Network,  
  • Gustavo Faleiros, Manager, Internews Earth Journalism Network
  • Isabel Hilton, CEO, chinadialogue.net, thethirdpole.net, indiaclimatedialogue.net
  • Joydeep Gupta, South Asia Director, thethirdpole.net, indiaclimatedialogue.net
  • Beth Walker, Editor, thethirdpole.net
  • Ramesh Bhushal, Project Manager, data.thethirdpole.net, 


This website was made possible with the support of the Skoll Global Threats Fund