Water sustainability in the web of knowledge systems. Ethnography of drought in South Moravia.
Marketa Zandlova (Charles University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper, based on ethnographic research on climate change and particularly drought in the Czech Republic, explores, how interactions and pragmatic use of various knowledge systems establish the local notion of the conditions for sustainable water management.
Paper long abstract:
During my research on drought in South Moravia, the Czech Republic, one of my research partners told me: 'We have a water pipeline here, so I´m not concerned about drought'. This was quite surprising statement from an inhabitant of a region considered (by media, natural scientists, politicians) one of the most vulnerable to drought in Czechia. Obviously, drought is a negotiated and contextual reality. My paper introduces a project called InterSucho ('InterDrought'), supported by the Czech Academy of Sciences, aimed at (1) monitoring and prediction of meteorological and agricultural drought in Czechia and Central Europe; (2) developing possible measures to promote sustainable water management. The project works mainly with data produced by measurements (satellites, moisture meters etc.) and mathematical models; however, smaller part comes from observations reported by local farmers. My research reveals that scientists involved in the project feel a moral commitment, stemming from their 'scientific knowledge' on drought, to promote environmental awareness. They strive to find convincing frames and arguments which could help them to transfer their knowledge to the 'local' people, who sometimes seem to doubt the need for sustainable water use. I argue that while it is impossible to draw a clear line between the scientific and local knowledge and practice, both being constructed according to values and relevance accepted within a particular community, the notion of 'knowledge transfer' is inaccurate. Rather, it is crucial to analyze how interactions and pragmatic use of various knowledge systems establish the local notion of the conditions for sustainability.
Moving towards a future sustainable life - attempts to change the contemporary world