Fulbright Nehru Student Research Grant, US-India Educational Foundation

The purpose of this research is to study place-based strategies for coping with water stress and adapting to the impacts of climate change in communities of northern India. In particular, this study will examine traditional knowledge and evolving local technologies that communities in the Himalayan foothills of Uttarakhand and the high desert region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir have been using and adapting to cope with both droughts and flash floods. The three core research questions guiding this research include: 1) In what ways have water-stressed communities in these two regions of northern India historically coped with floods and droughts and mitigated their effects locally, and to what extent are these strategies still being used today? 2) How have interventions made by both the state and nongovernmental actors to assist communities in coping with the impacts of climate change or reducing their risks to disaster impacted the application and effectiveness of these local technologies? and 3) What are the current barriers to and opportunities, as communities understand them, for the continued use of locally mobilized technologies alongside formal interventions?

In addition to answering these questions, this project will also involve a more applied component where creative, community-based strategies for managing this balance of water scarcity and overabundance (too much water during certain times of the year with insufficient water at others) are documented through photography, videography, and associated interview and oral history collections. This is important, particularly as climate change is exacerbating water variability across India and South Asia more broadly and many communities are struggling to find ways to sustain their land-based livelihoods. Ultimately, the goal of this project in studying and documenting how communities prepare for increased water variability is so that these potential community-based solutions to climate change may 1) be further enhanced through technical assistance via government or NGO interventions, and 2) be shared with other communities facing similar adaptive challenges in the region.

Related Reports Available for Download:

Final Report on Ladakh’s Artificial Glaciers, Ice Stupas, and Human-made Ice Reserves

Case Study on Water Adaptation in Pata village, Uttarakhand

Photo Essays and Blog Posts:

Gladfelter, S. & Yonnetti, E. (2018, March 11). Ladakh’s Artificial Glaciers, Ice Stupas, and other attempts to survive a warming planet. Tibet Himalaya Initiative, University of Colorado Boulder.

Gladfelter, S. (2018, January 29). Ladakh’s Artificial Glaciers: A solution to climate change or a creative practice of coping? United States-India Educational Foundation.