Citizen science and online policy support systems
Citizen science and online policy support systems for natural resources management in Nepal
Water is a major natural resource and is fundamental to life, livelihoods, food security and sustainable development. It directly underpins the well-being of millions of rural people both in mountains and in downstream floodplains. In Nepal and the wider Himalayas, water resources are often considered to be too much or too little because of variable spatial distribution of precipitation both inter and intra-annually. Lack of sufficient hydrological data and information about how socio-ecological processes produce water related ecosystem services has led to its mismanagement, wastage, and inefficient use, as well as pollution and maintaining environmental-flow along the river systems to sustain ecological needs. In addition, there are inequities in distribution and the lack of evidence-based decision-making practice at local scale.
Dr Bhopal Pandeya, from the Centre for Environmental Policy, focuses on building citizen science-based practices to generate locally relevant data in order to improve local decision-making. He is developing computer models to value ecosystem services and enable water and land resources management and has also adapted relevant policy support systems such as the Co$ting Nature and Waterworld, to make those systems more locally relevant and adapted to the specific socio-economic situation in the region.
The ESRC IAA funded Dr Pandeya to support knowledge dissemination at local and national levels through workshops and roundtable meetings with key end users, alongside local engagements and demonstrations of low-cost sensors to raise the usefulness of citizen science activities at local level. The team also developed a web interface (www.policysupportnepal.org) to disseminate data and research outcomes of the project. In addition, the team collaborated with the WWF-Nepal Freshwater team to organise training events on web-based policy support tools for end users. This led to translation of relevant training manuals to encourage local stakeholders to use the tools more efficiently.
The work funded by the IAA has been included in a paper published in the Journal of Flood Risk Management.