Odhner, Rachel: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

Graduate School
Project Title: 
Adapting to climate change and the precarity of water in Nicaragua
Project Abstract: 
This project examines perceptions of Nicaragua’s so-called water crisis among small-scale farmers, government officials, development professionals, scientists and environmentalists. Home to Central America’s largest lake, Nicaragua has long been considered a nation abundant in water, but a historic drought from 2012 to 2015 led to growing concern about how climate change will influence water systems. State and development actors, concerned with climate change’s impacts on agricultural production, have responded by creating “adaptation platforms” to provide farmers technical and informational tools to improve water resource management and build "adaptive strategies." Meanwhile, many environmentalists, academics and farmers explain the drought as indicative of what they claim is an ongoing water crisis. Through comparative ethnographic research in two rural communities, I explore how farmers talk about and cope with declining water availability, and how expert knowledge about climate change and water, especially the concept of adaptation, circumscribes a complex set of problems.