Leadership and research methods: Training for women water engineers from 4 South Asian countries

From 26 August to 7 September SaciWATERs and Anna University with funding from IDRC, Canada and UNDP Cap-Net (SCaN: SaciWATERs Cap-Net Network) held a regional training workshop on ‘Leadership and research methods for interdisciplinary water research’ in Chennai, India.

This workshop was part of the fellowship program on “South Asian Water (SAWA) Leadership Program on Climate Change”, coordinated by the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERs).

The workshop had two key goals:

  • To build the capacities of the SAWA fellows in understanding climate change and water insecurity through the application of interdisciplinary research methods that include gender and social approaches,
  • To develop leadership skills through activities such as team-building sessions, communication skills, application of negotiations and conflict resolution in the field.

The 13 days training program was designed in such a manner that students can get an understanding of research methods and theoretical frameworks for interdisciplinary water research. It also included a strong component of conceptualization and application of gender. In addition to classroom teaching, the training had a strong fieldwork component to ensure that the fellows could apply what they have learnt; both in terms of research methods and leadership.

The fieldwork was carried out in Kovalam (Covelong), Chennai for three days and it had to purposes. One wherein they applied research methods that they learnt to answer the question on “what are the differences in access and use of water and adaptations to water scarcity and excesses within different sections of the community, grouped by gender, class, caste and ethnicity? What are the intersections between these social axes with respect to water access and use?”. Secondly the students picked various perspectives from the community (fisherman, Salt pan workers, restaurant and hotel owners) to understand the quality and accessibility of the groundwater, the impact of climate change as well as environmental changes and its impact on livelihoods occurred over time and used their mediation skills with different sections of the community to come up with the best common solution and adaptation strategies with justice and equity as guiding principles.

Besides knowledge sharing and field exposure, a two-day write-shop was also organised to enhance the skills of the fellows in research paper writing. Three groups presented their research findings on the last day of the workshop, while the external experts provided useful suggestions on improving the research paper for further submission for a joint publication.

For more detail kindly contact: sreenita@saciwater.org