Women in a flood-prone region of India are the key to protecting drinking-water wells for their families and neighbors, but they need stronger voices – literally, figuratively and politically – to bring solutions to their communities, according to University of Virginia climate researchers.
With a $1.5 million grant, UVA’s Environmental Institute is studying how to empower women already elected to local offices in Bihar, India, to tackle a climate-change problem that threatens the lives and health of families, including the novel solution of voice training.
It’s part of a pair of grants – $3 million in total, supporting UVA’s Grand Challenges Research Initiative – that the Environmental Institute is sending to a pair of communities 8,000 miles apart.
The goal of this inaugural phase of the “Climate Collaboratives” program is to gather UVA experts from several disciplines to work directly with community members on strategies to adapt to climate change and to improve their futures. The focus for now will be on research to learn what approaches could lead to long-term resilience as the climate, and their communities, continue to change.
“Grand Challenges are meant to support the full scope of research, from basic research to team science to implementation and adoption by stakeholders,” said Megan Barnett, vice provost for academic initiatives. “The Climate Collaborative projects are a great illustration of this type of effort. They will generate discoveries, and also put those discoveries, and the tools to use them, in the hands of local communities.”
One of those communities is closer to home. UVA researchers will examine how the Appalachian region – still adjusting to the diminishment of coal mining as an economic driver – might thrive if it embraces renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.