University of Regina professors receive close to $3.5 million in research funding for projects that have the potential to change the lives of people in Saskatchewan and around the world – including work to find solutions for adapting to and solving water security issues.
The inability to access clean drinking water. Flooding that destroys buildings. Droughts that quell food production. Water security is a global problem that requires an immediate and international approach.
“Chile, Argentina, and the American West are amid a decade-long megadrought — the driest conditions those regions have seen in a century. And many areas in Western Canada and the United States are experiencing extreme drought — a once in 20-year event,” says the University of Regina’s Dr. Margot Hurlbert, Canada Research Chair, Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability.
To work toward finding solutions for adapting to and solving water security issues in the context of climate change, Hurlbert is leading a team from Saskatchewan, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay to build pathways for better water management between droughts and floods.
“There are multiple risks to water security, and our team is working to create solutions that will help people all over the world, and agricultural producers more specifically, ready themselves for the threats from future climate change,” says Hurlbert, a professor in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. “This means reducing risks of drought and floods as much as possible through developing and implementing water storage technologies, changing grazing and farming practices to preserve soil, and behavioural changes to reduce water usage.
She adds that other possibilities include developing water-sharing programs in times of drought, creating better water resource management between droughts and floods “because we don’t often think about the connection between using and saving water when there are floods for when there are times of drought.”
To help fund this critical research, the federal government, through its Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), has provided Hurlbert with a $2.5 million Partnership Grant.
“There are so many ways forward, and so many different decisions that can be made – such as how much land do we leave as ranch land or grasslands? How much do we farm? How do we farm to keep as much carbon in the soil as possible?” says Hurlbert. “This Partnership Grant supports us to work with an interdisciplinary team – including government, scientists, community members, and ag producers – to create a multitude of climate models and socio-economic pathways which will lead to the best decisions about what kind of future we want in terms of water security.”
Dr. Kathleen McNutt, University of Regina vice-president (research), says water insecurity leaves people vulnerable and, if not addressed quickly, will fundamentally change people’s lives and livelihoods.
“This critical research can help guide governments to start implementing policies that aim to reduce the future impacts of drought and floods, while helping farmers adapt to these climate changes and ultimately build resilience and strengthen water security across the globe,” says McNutt.
The Government of Canada’s SSHRC announcement also included support for the following University of Regina research projects:
Dr. Andrew Eaton, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work, received $294,305 for his project, Identity development, attraction, and behaviour of heterosexually-identified men who have sex with men.
Dr. Florence Luhanga, associate professor in the Faculty of Nursing, received $114,000 for her project, Revealing Black Undergraduate Nursing Students' Experiences in Saskatchewan.
Dr. Alex Oehler, assistant professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts, received $344,497 for his project, Sensory Acts: More Than Human Communication in the Circumpolar North.
Partnership Development Grant
Dr. Vivian Puplamp, assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing, received $199,098 for her project, Partnership to strengthen older racialized immigrants' social connectedness in Canada: the impacts of the living environment.
In total, University of Regina researchers received $3,451,900 as part of SSHRC’s bundled announcement.