Description: Pastoralists tend to occupy highlands and drylands lands with uncertain climates and are experienced at coping with climatic variability and drought. Increasingly, however, the speed with which climate patterns are changing has become an issue of concern. This study examines household water management strategies of pastoralists in western Argentina. In this semi-arid region, pastoralists rely primarily on streams and springs fed by snow and glacier melt from the Andes, and have developed various strategies to meet their water needs. They also deal with myriad challenges posed by climate, economic, and socio-cultural change and work vigorously to maintain their herds – a combination of cattle, goats, and sheep – in this water scarce region. The goal of this study is to understand: 1) different household water management strategies; 2) the ways pastoral livelihoods are changing in response to changes in water supply; and 3) the socio-economic changes that affect pastoral livelihoods. Information from interviews, household surveys, and participant observations reveals that climate fluctuation impacts water supplies and use, herd size, and expenses made on tanks, technology, and infrastructure for the storage and transport of water, food for animals, and subsistence crops. Understanding the micro-scale, water practices of pastoral households provides insight into the ways rural populations in semi-arid and arid environments respond to changes in climate and meet their water needs. Moreover, these findings can contribute to scholarship on traditional and local knowledge and resource management systems, and may potentially inspire the development of adaptive management solutions.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Parker, Julie