How can we ensure that health, food systems, and sustainable agricultural systems mutually reinforce one another?

Citizen – Driven Water Management for Healthy Lives and Sustainable Agriculture

Basement Room A-126 September 7, 2017 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

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Natalie Ceperley1, Theophile Mande2,3, Moctar Dembele1

1 Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Laboratory of Ecohydrology, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; 3iE, Burkina Faso


Water is central to both public health and agriculture, and thus its management is essential for economic functioning and human well being. Its mismanagement can have dire consequences for rural people such as disease, drought, and floods. Additionally, demands for water too often contradict and compete with each other, which will worsen as the demand for water increases due to rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialisation and the resource is less predictable due to climate change. However, health and economic activity require water resources to be well managed both in quality and quantity. These issues are more pressing in developing countries and semi-arid regions where limited resources exist. Innovative ways of bringing cutting edge research into the hands of decision makers can improve water management techniques for healthy lives and sustainable food production.

This will be a creative, interdisciplinary, and interactive session that puts water management at the crux of the future of global sustainable development. As water resources become less predictable, it is crucial that local people step up to the challenge of water management. From our perspective, rural stakeholders are often both the main players and decision makers for water resource and the main users, bearing the burden of failed irrigation projects, descending groundwater levels, flooding, drought, and water borne diseases. However, they rarely have the power or information for sustainable water management. Additionally imported solutions too frequently are not rooted in local values and perspectives. In this session, we hope to bring people with innovative cutting edge approaches to solving local water problems together to present a synthesized list of priorities for the next challenges to inform what local players need lead the way for the interrelated challenges of sustainable land use, water management, and disease prevention.

How can large, basin or country level models paired with increasingly ubiquitous data collection (i.e. meteorological stations, citizen science) ultimately improve sustainable agriculture and health behavior? We will bring together examples of how rural scientific literacy has been raised and decision making improved by either/and modeling and distributed sensing. Citizens are simultaneously the key actors who both make decisions regarding water use and water contact and the most impacted by consequences of problematic management including floods, droughts, and disease. We postulate that modeling can link temporal and geographic scales of impact and consequence.