Adaptation and trade-offs in river based livelihoods in the Swat Valley, Pakistan

Authors: Rebecca Nixon*, Purdue University, Zhao Ma, Purdue University
Topics: Natural Resources, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: Adaptation, South Asia, Water Resources
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the Swat Valley in Pakistan, as in many rural communities around the world, water quality and quantity are under stress from industrial and agricultural pollutants, population growth, competing water uses between irrigated agriculture, freshwater flows for fisheries, hydropower, domestic water needs, and ongoing climate change. This research examines adaptation practices and adaptive capacity of farmers and fisheries in the Swat Valley in response to compounding pressures and rapid transformations as a result of urbanization, agricultural and tourism development, and climate change. It also explores water resource management decision making across the household, community, and regional scales with a focus on the types of trade-offs facing various actors. This study includes two major components: (1) a systematic literature review on the intersection of social-ecological change, water governance, adaptation decision making and tradeoffs broadly and as it relates to water management in the Swat Valley; (2) a case study of three communities where farming and/or fisheries are their primary livelihood strategies. Data for the case study will be collected from semi-structured interviews and surveys of households, water resource managers, and community leaders. This study is part of an interdisciplinary, collaborative project to examine water quality, river ecosystem health, and river-based livelihoods in the Swat Valley. Together, this research contributes to a holistic understanding of how water management decisions are negotiated in the midst of competing water uses, and how tradeoffs may be managed to mitigate vulnerability to water scarcity.

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