From the University of Waterloo Water Institute:
Interdisciplinary approaches are key when investigating potential impacts from climate change on human, economic and environmental systems. Unexpected changes to the quantity and quality of water available to local communities and environments can have wide-ranging effects, including impacting public health, environmental resilience, and agricultural and food security. Four Water Institute researchers were recently awarded funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program to build institutional capacity in select Commonwealth countries to address linkages between climate change and water security.
Roy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute and professor of Economics, together with Susan Elliot, professor in Geography and Environmental Management; Craig Janes, Director of the School of Public Health and Health Systems; and Johanna Wandel, professor in Geography and Environmental Management will implement “Water Security as a Foundation for Healthy Communities and Sustainable Livelihoods” as part of the recently announced QES-Advanced Scholars program. The main goals of the project are to offer new learning opportunities for doctoral, post-doctoral and early career researchers from five low-to middle-income (LMIC) countries, as well as from Canada, to enrich their academic, professional and cross-cultural experiences in three specific areas:
- Climate smart agricultural systems for food security (India and Pakistan);
- Climate-proof public health services under increasingly severe drought and flood conditions (Zambia);
- Safe water supply and sanitation facilities to improve the poor health status of mothers and infants (Kenya and Uganda).
“The QES-Advanced Scholars program identifies eight areas of focus. Water is the foundation for four of them,” said Roy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute. “Our long-term vision for this project is to support and build the institutional – academic and professional – capacity of our partner organizations to help facilitate the transition towards healthy communities and sustainable, prosperous livelihoods.”
As part of the “Water Security as a Foundation for Healthy Communities and Sustainable Livelihoods” project, 27 young scholars (19 from LMICS, 8 from Canada) will gain valuable research experience and training working with university, private sector and civil society partners. Scholars, in addition to academic training, will participate in various leadership and community development activities.
Other partners in the project include McMaster University, and the following LMIC research organizations:
- Kenya Medical Research Institute
- Uganda Christian University
- University of Zambia
- Center for Water Resources, Anna University, India
- Sindh Agriculture University, Pakistan
“Our partnerships are based on existing inter-institutional collaborations in five Commonwealth countries, working towards the same common goal of developing healthy communities and sustainable, prosperous livelihoods,” said Brouwer. “The team members and partners are world-experts in interdisciplinary research and education linking climate change and water security.”
With approximately 160 members across all six faculties and 19 departments at the University of Waterloo, the Water Institute is the largest interdisciplinary water research institute in Canada with a mission to advance and support the sustainable use and management of water around the world for the benefit of the environment, society, public health and the economy.