International G-WADI Seminar ‘Citizen Science for Water and Drought Management’
The objective of this seminar is to exchange and gather knowledge of different approaches for incorporating citizen science for data collection, data analysis, as well as decision and policy making in the Latin-American and Caribbean region. Participants will be asked to comment their experiences on this topic and the difficulties encountered. A cooperation network of the participating professionals will be created as part of the G-WADI LAC programme.
The participation of the general public in the data collection and interpretation of information for research and decision making is often referred to as citizen science. While citizen science itself has existed since the start of scientific practice, developments in sensing technology, data processing and visualization, and communication of ideas and results, are creating a wide range of new opportunities for public participation in scientific research (Buytaert et al., 2014).
The democratization of science and technology represents a tremendous opportunity to empower communities to address issues of local concern and to expand scientific knowledge used in policymaking for drought risk management. Citizen science presents a tangible opportunity for the general public to connect with research and science policy by creating opportunities for real, needs-based engagement.
Availability of water resources is essential for communities, as well as for agricultural and industrial activities. The generation of agrometeorological and hydrological data underpins most decision-making on water resources and is the basis for assessing risks related to water such as floods and droughts. But despite its critical societal relevance, this area of science is characterized by an acute scarcity of data in space and time (e.g., Hannah et al., 2011), which contrasts significantly with the heterogeneity and complexity of actual water management and governing processes, and is specially critical in rain-fed areas. As such, it is pertinent to reflect upon the potential role that citizen science could play in the generation of new knowledge in relation to the water cycle and drought-related aspects, and the use of citizen science in decision-making.
As part of the project ‘A Citizen Science Approach to Drought Risk Management in Peru and Chile’ granted by Newton-Picarte Fund thru British Council as delivery partner and within the framework of the UNESCO Global Network on Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI) programme, the seminar invites experiences from the region of Latin America and the Caribbean on the different aspects of citizen science for water resources and drought risk management. The workshop is also a contribution to the 8th Phase of UNESCO IHP (IHP VIII 2014-2021) Water Security: Responses to Local, Regional and Global Challenges’.