Adapting to salinity in the Southern Indus Basin: Stories of Change

C Allan, Michael Mitchell, Tahira Baloch, Yousif Channa, Moshin Ali Channa, Sandra Heaney-Mustafa, Nadia Jabeen, Benazir Kumbhar, Ifrah Malok, Iqra Mohiuddin, Muhammad Faisal Riaz, Arzoo Rubab, Akhtar Hussain Samoo, Sayed Muhammad Ali Zahid, Babar Zaman

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report (public)

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The Adapting to Salinity in the Southern Indus Basin (ASSIB) project has three inter-related research areas. This report contributes to the overall assessment of the second and third research areas that relate to implementing co-inquiry into salinity adaptation options and planning strategies with affected communities, and demonstrating best practice methods for such collaborative research in ways that build community adaptive capacity. This evaluation uses a situationally tailored version of the Most Significant Change (MSC) method. The approach to data co-creation for this report was undertaken with the review and approval of the Charles Sturt University and University of Canberra Human Research Ethics Committees. Fifty-seven interviews focused on change were undertaken between September 2022 and March 2024. Interviews were co-created purposefully with ASSIB project participants, the majority of whom were farmers and fish raisers. Interviews were led,
recorded and transcribed by members of the project’s community engagement team (CET).
Analysis of interview transcripts involved building substantive information from the individual transcripts to produce thematically organised insights. These themes were:
• The context of the ASSIB project (issues faced by communities).
• Perception of ASSIB’s approach to learning and change.
• Forms of learning.
• Connections.
• Emotional response to co-inquiry.
• ASSIB learning and outcomes: evidence of impact; changed practices, improved outcomes, changed behaviours and changed thinking.
Many of the stories of change provide examples of new practices and their outcomes, providing evidence of changed human conditions brought about by involvement with the ASSIB project.
The information provided in the co-created narratives can also be considered in relation to overarching discourses. Part of the project design was a very deliberate and ongoing discourse related to recognising the assets of a community. Another deliberate choice of discourse was that of learning: no one knows everything, so learning together and over time can be powerful.
Many of the narratives dwelt on change, as expected when using the MSC evaluation method. Less anticipated was the degree of nuance in the narratives of change. The narratives included indications of changed behaviour and changed thinking in addition to changed practices, which is exciting as all these changes relate to increased adaptive capacity. The changed thinking extends to individuals within communities choosing to support the learning of their friends and families beyond the funded project time. Overall, the stories suggest increased adaptive capacity as a key outcome of the project. The data presented in this report suggest that carefully considered and supported co-inquiry should be considered as a means for transformational change in poorly resourced areas facing salinity, climate change and systemic institutional neglect. Such co-inquiry does not need to be vastly expensive, but should have sufficient resources to enable facilitation, risk mitigation, and longevity. The results suggest that focusing on adaptive capacity can be worthwhile in complex social-ecological situations. The results also suggest that a focus on adaptive capacity can be achieved through a process of co-inquiry based around principles of inclusivity.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Commissioning bodyAustralian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
Number of pages44
ISBN (Print)978-1-86-467450-7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


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