A multidisciplinary research team from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has been awarded $289,000 for a project to develop water security solutions. The water security solutions will contribute to enhanced gender equity in the West African nations of Ghana and Senegal, where women and girls are hit hardest by impacts of climate change.

Improving water security for productive use would contribute to food security overall, diversify income opportunities for women by enabling them to sell excess vegetables, and improve their bargaining power within the household, according to Sabine Liebenehm. Liebenehm is the project lead and assistant professor in USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

“Increased water insecurity caused by erratic rains, longer dry seasons, and an ever-expanding Sahara desert affects water availability for domestic use and agriculture production—both areas for which women are responsible,” said Liebenehm.

“When rural agriculture livelihoods are affected, it increases domestic tension and pressure, especially on young women, to migrate to the cities where they are often exposed to labour exploitation and violence,” added Liebenehm.

“In this context, we want to improve the research capacity locally and globally related to water security and gender equity,” noted Liebenehm. “If we can improve these interlinkages, we can contribute to sustainable water and wastewater management, improve water safety, sanitation, and family health.”

Liebenehm’s team members for the research include:

  • Pat Lloyd-Smith, assistant professor in agricultural and resource economics.
  • Corinne Schuster-Wallace, associate professor in geography and planning.
  • Andrew Ireson, member of the Global Institute for Water Security. Ireson is also an associate professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability, and in the College of Engineering.
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Partner universities include the University for Development Studies, University of Ghana, and Université de Thiès in Senegal.

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