Queen Elizabeth Scholar works with local community to adapt to climate change

Thursday, May 10, 2018

It’s 8:00 in the morning in the Sindh province of Pakistan, and Sajida Awan is preparing to head back into the field to conduct a full day of interviews with local farmers. The temperature is rising, it will be 50 degrees Celsius by mid-day, and it will take her at least two hours to get to her location.

Interview in Sindh Pakistan

This is a typical day for the Queen Elizabeth Scholar Advanced Scholar and PhD candidate in Waterloo’s School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, who is studying knowledge co-production for climate smart agriculture systems.

“Climate smart agriculture is an approach for developing agricultural strategies to secure sustainable food security under climate change,” said Sajida. “It provides the means to help stakeholders at all levels identify agricultural strategies suitable to their local conditions.”

Climate smart agiruclture systems

Climate smart agriculture is a very new concept in Pakistan. Although many people may be using CSA systems, they are not labeled as such, making the first few months of Sajida’s project quite challenging.

“It was difficult to recognize CSA projects when it’s not even an identified practice in Pakistan,” said Sajida. “I had to do a thorough investigation of current farming practices here to see if they fell under the CSA umbrella or not.”

Sajida arrived in Sindh, Pakistan in January to pursue her research which is funded by the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Advanced Scholars program. The program fosters a dynamic community of young global leaders that create lasting impacts at home and abroad. Queen Elizabeth Scholars engage with communities, learn about cultures and create projects and actions that impact the world.

Most of the research Sajida is doing is qualitative analysis. She spends her days conducting interviews, focus groups and facilitating discussions that cover the social side of knowledge co-production – combining different forms of knowledge that are integrated into new ideas – in climate smart agriculture. Her hope is that the research she is doing will positively impact new local legislation that is being drafted for CSA systems in Sindh.

“It was a good time to come to Pakistan and do this research,” said Sajida. “The Ministry of Climate Change is introducing policies at local and national levels that will include CSA guidelines and other new interventions for climate change mitigation. The research I am doing can have a direct impact on the polices that are being made.”

agriculture fields

About Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships

The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and Canadian universities. The QES-AS is made possible with financial support from IDRC and SSHRC.

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Tales from the field: Queen Elizabeth Scholar in Pakistan