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Empowering Democratic Institutions to Address Climate Change Induced Water Imbalances

Climate Change driven water imbalances are expected to have more severe detrimental effects on developing countries. Our project inquires how to strengthen local institutions to seek state collaboration in becoming resilient to the aftermaths of changing water imbalances. Our program will design and evaluate a randomized control trial that will leverage Bihar’s (India) “Har Ghar Nal Jal”, state’s flagship drinking water infrastructure provision scheme, and: I) provide scientific information about local vulnerabilities and risks and train local EWRS of Gram Panchayats (GP-local village councils) to seek climate-smart water infrastructure from the state government of Bihar, India under “Har Ghar Nal Jal” scheme, ii) experimentally evaluate this program in flood-prone areas of the state and assess whether it increases EWR’s participation in deliberation in panchayat meetings, expression and vocalization of their ideas, implementation of solutions through their use of their development works discretionary funding, and completion of paperwork to seek climate-smart infrastructure for their villages from the state. In the long run, we would measure if the village received funding from the government and whether health outcomes affected by access to clean drinking water are influenced during floods. Our program will enable communities facing heightened risks of flooding due to climate change to adapt to the aftermaths of floods better. Better infrastructure resilient to vulnerabilities will ensure continual access to clean drinking water thus limiting the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Reduction in morbidity risk can enable the citizens to cope better with income shocks.

Knowledge or information barriers, lack of skills to deliberate or engage, and low confidence can hinder this participation. Our research projects aim to build interventions to remove these barriers and generate evidence of whether these interventions work. We will equip the EWRS with necessary background information to engage in objective deliberation. Using remote sensing data, we will scientifically determine local risks related to climate change-induced flood events. We will create simulation-based models of disruptions in clean drinking water supply under different climate change scenarios. A web application will allow stakeholders to explore and visualize relevant information in vernacular language. EWRs will undergo training in oral capacity building and self-efficacy. We will compare outcomes across treated and control GPs to measure treatment effects.

Project Team

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Sheetal
Sekhri
Associate Professor
University of Virginia
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Julianne
Quinn
Assistant Professor
University of Virginia
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