Story-mapping Household Water Insecurity in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley

Authors: Olivia Molden*, University of Oregon
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Qualitative Research, Field Methods
Keywords: household water security, qualitative research, Kathmandu Valley, environmental change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Reading between political ecology and the geohumanities, this paper forwards story-mapping as a technique for water security research. Story-mapping is a mode of research which, through an iterative and reflective process, incorporates various methods to build visual narratives with participant input. I employed story-mapping to make sense of diverse and changing experiences of water insecurity in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. Specifically, I drafted story-map narratives with 47 household water managers, or people who secure water for their family, to understand the lived experiences of water security as hydrosocial relations over time and space. In the story-mapping process, I supplemented and changed 47 narratives of participant experiences over three seasons by incorporating participant feedback and by synthesizing and analyzing interview transcripts, observations, collected documents, and spatially referenced photographs. To link those lived experiences with broader processes of urban development and water management, I additionally created thematic narratives. I gained insight into the larger context of water security by sharing thematic narratives with decision-makers for urban water provision and development. Throughout the process of drafting, sharing, and redrafting narratives, multiple stories of water emerge. Analysis of those stories reveals both the ways change happens in everyday life and the larger power geometries which perpetuate insecurities and inequalities.

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