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Developing citizen scientists to benefit local communities through maintaining ecosystem health and climate resilience
Anjana Shakya, Allen Turner, Sarah Gray, Bhawani Dongol

Last modified: 2017-10-09


Healthy watersheds offer numerous ecosystem services, including but not limited to, biodiversity conservation and improving communities’ resilience to climate change. The USAID supported Paani (Program for Aquatic Natural Resource Improvement) program aims to increase the knowledge and benefits of local communities in Karnali, Mahakali and West Rapti Basins in Nepal through the engagement of citizen scientists to strengthen water resource management in a way that benefits human development and protects the natural resource base upon which well-being depends.

As a first step, in January 2017, Paani organized a mega event called a “Hack-a-thonâ€, followed by several training events, which trained citizen scientists in designing Smart Phone-based tools for data collection, analysis and visualization to characterize issues, challenges and opportunities in their watersheds.

For example, citizen scientists are conducting stream water quality and discharge measurements using Akvo Flow, a simple and low cost smartphone based system with data management in its dashboard. Paani also aims to engage citizen scientists in monitoring hydro-met data and flood early warning systems to minimize disaster risks in flood prone areas.

With a vision on long-term sustainability and enduring results, these citizen scientists can serve as new allies for social change, help narrow the knowledge gap, and create a shared understanding to act for the benefit of local communities.

Key words; climate resilience, biodiversity, citizen scientist, watershed





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