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Why the Ganges is so important

The River Ganges is more than 2,500km long and has the most populated river basin in the world.

Hundreds of millions of people and a huge range of wildlife rely on the Ganges. But pollution, dams and removal of too much water (mostly for agriculture) have affected the flow and health of this vital river.

One of the river’s most at-risk animals is the Ganges river dolphin. There used to be tens of thousands of them, but now only around 1,200-1,800 are left in the river. Biggest threats to them include fishing (they’re targeted for their oily blubber), as well as toxic pollution, dams and barrages in the river.

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Location of the Ganges

The River Ganges emerges in the western Himalayas and flows down across northern India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. Nearly 80% of the Ganges river basin is in India, the rest is in Nepal, China and Bangladesh.

About the Ganges

The River Ganges (or Ganga) flows from the Himalayas all the way to the Bay of Bengal, through some of Asia’s most densely-populated regions. Its river basin is more than 1 million sq km, and home to over 650 million people.

The Ganges faces a lot of serious challenges, mainly because of the fast growth of cities, agriculture and industries in recent decades. Too much water is being removed for farming and other uses, barrages and dams disrupt the Ganges’ natural flow, and pollution from homes and industries have badly contaminated what’s left of this once mighty, free-flowing river.

It’s having a negative impact on a lot of people, as well as on precious wildlife like the Ganges river dolphin.

We’re working hard to turn things around. We’re targeting some of the most damaging industries and activities, and encouraging more sustainable water use. And we’re helping build community awareness and action to protect the river.