9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Governance of Water Building I, Auditório 4

Farmers facing climate variabilities and changes: the case of groundwater users of coastal aquifers in France, Portugal and Morocco

According to experts, climate change is likely to exacerbate quality and quantity water related problems and therefore conflicts between water users. Experts on climate change call for setting adaptation measures to anticipate future crisis. This challenge can be adressed through the development of methods to support water users´ capacity to anticipate the future changes based on expert foresight. The invitation to anticipation faces the gap between expert modelling and farmers´ experience of climate. While experts use temperatures and rain data, farmers use others criteria as local markers to adapt their practices. While experts talk about evolution of the climate, some farmers talk about weather cycles formerly identified by their ancestors.
The communication will present the results of an investigation regarding the way farmers understand and adapt to climate variability and change. Three case studies are considered: the Roussillon Aquifer in France, the Querença-Silves Aquifer in Portugal, and the Chaouia Aquifer in Morocco. In the three cases, groundwater management and uses face the degradation of groundwater resources, and climate variability has both a direct impact (groundwater recharge) and an indirect one (amount of water pumped) on groundwater dynamics.
The inquiries enable a comparative insight of the three cases around two main axes. First, the indicators used by farmers to describe the climate and its variability and possible changes, their social representations of the climate and water resource dynamics and of unusual events such as drought and floods, and their opinion vis-à-vis the impacts of climate variability on their farm and on water resources. The analysis will be complemented by the way their social representations compare to existing data of climate variablity and the way expert discourses make sense for farmers. Second, the analysis assesses the way climate influences their practices and actions taken by farmers to adapt to climate variability and changes.