DEVELOPING A DROUGHT NARRATIVE RESOURCE IN A MULTI-STAKEHOLDER DECISION-MAKING UTILITY FOR DROUGHT RISK MANAGEMENT

Lead Research Organisation: Falmouth University
Department Name: Academy for Innovation and Research

Abstract

This innovative interdisciplinary project aims to develop an easy-to-use, evidence-based resource which can be used in decision-making in drought risk management. To achieve this, we will bring together information from drought science and scenario-modelling (using mathematical models to forecast the impacts of drought) with stakeholder engagement and narrative storytelling. While previous drought impact studies have often focused on using mathematical modelling, this project is very different. The project will integrate arts, humanities and social science research methods, with hydrological, meteorological, agricultural and ecological science knowledge through multi-partner collaboration. Seven case study catchments (areas linked by a common water resource) in England, Wales and Scotland will be selected to reflect the hydrological, socio-economic and cultural contrasts in the UK. Study of drought impacts will take place at different scales - from small plot experiments to local catchment scale. Citizen science and stakeholder engagement with plot experiments in urban and rural areas will be used as stimuli for conversations about drought risk and its mitigation.
The project will: (i) investigate different stakeholder perceptions of when drought occurs and action is needed; (ii) examine how water level and temperature affect drought perception; (iii) explore the impact of policy decisions on drought management; (iv) consider water users' behaviours which lead to adverse drought impacts on people and ecosystems and; (v) evaluate water-use conflicts, synergies and trade-offs, drawing on previous drought experiences and community knowledge.

The project spans a range of sectors including water supply; health, business, agriculture/horticulture, built environment, extractive industries and ecosystem services, within 7 case-study catchments. Through a storytelling approach, scientists will exchange cutting edge science with different drought stakeholders, and these stakeholders will, in turn, exchange their knowledge. Stakeholders include those in: construction; gardeners and allotment holders; small and large businesses; local authorities; emergency planners; recreational water users; biodiversity managers; public health professionals - both physical and mental health; and local communities/public.
The stakeholder meetings will capture various data including:
- different stakeholder perceptions of drought and its causes
- local knowledge around drought onset and strategies for mitigation (e.g. attitudes to water saving, responses to reduced water availability)
- insights into how to live with drought and increase individual/community drought resilience
- the impact of alternating floods and droughts

The information will be shared within, and between, stakeholder groups in the case-studies and beyond using social media. This information will be analysed, and integrated with drought science to develop an innovative web-based decision-making utility. These data will feedback into the drought modelling and future scenario building with a view to exploring a variety of policy options. This will help ascertain present and future water resources availability, focusing on past, present and future drought periods across N-S and W-E climatic gradients. The project will be as far as possible be 'open science' - maintaining open, real-time access to research questions, data, results, methodologies, narratives, publications and other outputs via the project website, updated as the project progresses.
Project outputs will include: the decision-making support utility incorporating science-narrative resources; hydrological models for the 7 case-study catchments; a social media web-platform to share project resources; a database of species responses/management options to mitigate drought/post-drought recovery at different scales, and management guidelines on coping with drought/water scarcity at different scales.

Planned Impact

This research will have high impact in theoretical, policy and practical terms in local/national/international contexts. In policy terms, drought is now one of the major risks facing the UK. The project aims to mitigate drought impacts, and through a new innovative multi-stakeholder decision-making utility, to make different stakeholders more resilient to drought risk and drought events.
The project's impact strategy is driven and strengthened by the engaged nature of the research process. Key target groups/beneficiaries within, and beyond, those immediately engaged within the project have been identified. These include: stakeholders working at local and regional levels in different domains (health and wellbeing, urban design/built environment, agriculture/horticulture, utilities, government, business, tourism and ecosystem services) to manage the impacts of drought and water scarcity in the 7 case-study catchments; educational organisations (formal/informal); wider inter-professional groups in the UK with interests/concerns in drought risk management/mitigation of impacts, including communities and the general public.
Developing organisational stakeholders and communities that are resilient to living with drought risk and water scarcity, and resilient to future drought is of the highest priority. A multi-stakeholder shared recognition of drought risk, and a developing attitude of coping/living with flood events, are vital components of drought risk planning/resilience. This research will make a significant contribution to drought policy discourses and practices in the way it brings different stakeholder drought narratives into thinking about and developing drought resilience.
The interdisciplinary and narrative based research methods are designed to enhance and dovetail with the impact strategy giving opportunities for new and innovative approaches to achieving impact. This integrates: how mesocosms and social media tools can engage new/different audiences, and how the inclusion of lay voices and narrative data might incentivise the policy process. Policy makers have to balance all these competing interests - so, rather than handing policymakers the science, the project supplies 'the whole data package'. For further detail on beneficiaries, benefits and methods, see the Pathways to impact document. These include:
- Project partners and stakeholders working at local and regional levels in different domains (water supply, health and wellbeing, urban design/built environment, agriculture/forestry, government, business, tourism and ecosystem services) and the policy/governance communities (Environment Agency, SEPA, National Resources Wales and local/regional/national levels)
- General public and communities (e.g. Local Resilience Forums with responsibilities for community lead adaptation planning)
- Scientists and artists working as part of different professional organisations (e.g. environmental regulators/wildlife conservation)
- Individuals and collectives of creative practitioners and cultural activists whose work focuses on related environmental and sustainability issues
- Educational organisations (schools, further/higher education but also less formal learning).
The case-study based research design will identify 7 catchments with a wide range of physical/socio-economic-cultural characteristics that will form a platform for wider stakeholder engagement across the UK. The project will have an integrated dissemination/impact strategy that targets different stakeholders for awareness, information and action for behaviour change. Impact will be delivered by on-going dialogue/exchange; a culture of co-production of knowledge, and working with key organisational gatekeepers/ communities in catchments and beyond. Impact strategies will include website/social media; open access research outputs for end users; participatory activities (seminars, workshops, conference) and a science-storytelling e-workbook for schools.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/L010232/1 01/04/2014 31/08/2014 £393,663
NE/L010232/2 Transfer NE/L010232/1 01/09/2014 31/03/2019 £376,381
 
Title DRY Digital Stories 
Description Digital Stories created with stakeholders and participants as part of the DRY project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact These stories are part of a growing 'library' of stories as part of the research and will contribute to the planning tool that the project seeks to create. 
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/
 
Description AHRC Connected Communities Utopia Festival 2016
Amount £19,031 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2016 
End 10/2016
 
Title The Reasons 
Description We have developed a new form of public performative storytelling for the inclusion of new voices into policy debates and as a way of communities to come together to explore possible solutions to conflicts and dilemmas relating to environmental resource management. It draws upon a traditional Sardinian form of conflict resolution called La Rasgioni (The Reasons) and takes the form of a 'mock court' where members of the public can tell their stories for consideration by the wider community. Through additional AHRC funding we have successfully trialled the methodology with our community members on the DRY project in the Bevills Leam catchment in the Cambridgeshire Fens. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact There has been interest from other arts-based and environmental researchers in the method as a route to more effective public engagement. We will continue to develop the methodology and disseminate our work accordingly. 
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/events/the-reasons-in-the-bevills-leam-catchment/
 
Description "Thinking in systems": digital storytelling, knowledge hierarchies and environmental narratives, 4th International Visual Methods Conference, Brighton 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This paper was presented by Dr Antonia Liguori, Research Assistant on the DRY project, based at Loughborough University and was co-authored with Dr Liz Roberts, project RA based at UWE. The paper was well-received and generated good discussion.

Invitation to meet up with Pip Hardy of 'Patient Voices' to discuss possible collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description '"I can't remember the name of the dog": Stories about (and not about) drought, flooding and climate change'. Seminar Presentation to the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development, Uppsala University, Sweden, Uppsala Universit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This was a research seminar to colleagues from different universities in Uppsala. It was followed by a digital storytelling workshop with members of the Centre on the following day. There was much discussion afterwards and the proceedings were recorded and being prepared to be podcast.

As a result I was invited to participate in two workshops relating to CADWAGO (an international collaborative research project on climate adaptation and water governance), one at the Royal Society in London (September 2015) and one in Sardinia (October 2015).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description 'Drought Risk in the UK: Combining Models and Narratives'. Presentation to the Stockholm Environment Institute, York University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This was a presentation to researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute with a view to exploring possible future collaborations. There was plenty of discussion afterwards and further discussions about possible collaborations.

As a result, we received an invitation to deliver a seminar and workshop in Uppsala University in Sweden and also to participate in a future funding bid to the RCUK Valuing Nature Programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description 'There is something in the water' (Ramsey) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A performative Storytelling event under 'The Reasons' project. We invited general public and local stakeholders to a forum for community public storytelling as a way of exploring dilemmas and conflicts about water governance. The action was presented as a mock court, presided over by a community elder with other community members playing the part of the jury. In turn, various stakeholders were invited to tell their stories and could be questioned for clarification by either the jury or the general public, who were gathered as the audience. After all the stories were told, everyone (judge, jury, witnesses and general public) retired to enjoy a communal meal, before returning to the hall, where the jury delivered its verdict, for which the judge then provided an interpretation, one that combines vernacular wisdom with a healthy disregard for traditional power structures, to share a resolution that unites, rather than divides the community. Overall the evaluation was positive with many of the participants commenting on the project's success in fostering open discussion around complex, and potentially divisive issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/events/theres-something-in-the-water-the-reasons-stories-about-water-usage-d...
 
Description 'Think Water': Storytelling for the future of Peterborough and the Fens (Peterborough) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public Performative Storytelling Event. As happened in Ramsey in June, we invited local groups and organisations, such as the NFU, Natural England, The Great Fen Project and Angling Trust, and general public for an evening of convivial local storytelling, food and drink. 10 storytellers shared their experiences of water management and plans for the future as climate change is a growing concern. There was the opportunity to ask questions and sharing experiences from the audience, while also learning about how Peterborough and the Fenlands can help each other in the future.
The evening of entertainment took the form of a mock court room, where members of the community shared stories about water usage, the flood/drought nexus and the future of the Fens. Involving an advisory jury made up of young people, the event was designed for all of the community.
As part of the event, we also had a communal meal, which was made with locally sourced produce.
Court-artists, a musician, a caricaturist, a poetic judge and some good food promise made this a lively and fun-filled evening of community, music, stories and laughter.
Feedback was very positive and this has led to further discussions about possible additional work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/events/think-water-storytelling-for-the-future-of-peterborough-and-the-fens/
 
Description A visual walk by the River Don (Sheffield) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Photography workshop and creative walk. As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, we led a 'visual walk' across the River Don from the Riverside pub, to Sheffield castle, passing through the Wicker and Canal basin, joining the Upper Don walk through Kelham Island and industrial heritage sites, to reflect with participants on their experiences of the river in Sheffield and the role of the waterways in the city. We were accompanied by professional photographer Jack Perks and local historian Tim Cooper to allow our attendees to learn about photography and discover more about their local area and water courses. With the difficulties and challenges facing the river and the most obvious water source in the city, community engagement around water issues can often be difficult. The event was conceived to start bringing the river back into the mainstream consciousness of the city. Feedback from participants was positive and it has enabled us to extend our networks with the general public within the River Don catchment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/2016/11/
 
Description Bridging science and community knowledges: exploring digital storytelling as 'translational tool' for stakeholder engagement in drought risk management - Presentation at MECCSA Conference, 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference paper presented to the MECCSA annual conference at Christ Church Canterbury University. The conference attracts a mixture of media academics and media practitioners. Part of a panel on the application of digital narratives. Interesting discussion followed the presentations and contacts made with potential future collaborators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Climate Change Conference (Brighton) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The title of the paper was 'My true UK drought risk story': The role of storytelling to understand (mis)conceptions and beliefs that drive behaviours. Our main objective was to engage the audience around how we are adopting storytelling to investigate perceptions and behaviours in relation to water use and water scarcity within and across seven rivers catchments. We shared challengeable narratives to 'provoke' discussions, enable us to elicit counter-narratives and bring different stories together, whilst challenging the notion that there can only be a single truth about a given situation. Feedback was positive and networks extended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.academia.edu/29431389/_My_true_UK_drought_risk_story_The_role_of_storytelling_to_underst...
 
Description Connected Communities Conference (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact A presentation on The Reasons and our work in the Cambridgeshire Fens as part of the AHRC Connected Communities Utopia events. During the conference, we proposed a 'performative screening' of stories, dialogues and songs generated for and by our local stakeholders to reflect on the potential of a utopian participatory approach for decision-making.
During our public engagement activities, language has been identified as one of the main concerns, especially with regard to the impenetrable way in which policymakers and scientists often communicate. Hence we suggested multiple-narrative approaches in various languages to facilitate a utopian universal understanding: verbal/visual, factual/fictional or poetic, English/ other languages. This 'performative screening' was structured in three phases (a dialogue in two different languages, a screening of stories, the playing of a song as part of the storytelling process) to explore the potential re-use of a traditional form of performative orality from Sardinia ('La Rasgioni' or ' The Reasons') that aims to solve dilemmas and disputes within the community, by reconciling conflicting interests in a way that builds resilience and reinforces community cohesion.
Feedback was very positive and this has further increased the visibility of the work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/newsevents/events/calendar/utopia-connected-communities-conference/
 
Description Digital storytelling and place-attachment: a 'lens' through which to analyse people's values in the Drought Risk and You (DRY) Project, Digital Humanities: Transformative Landscapes, Derby Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This paper was presented by Dr Antonia Liguori. Research Assistant on DRY, and based at Loughborough. It was co-authored by Dr Liz Roberts, UWE-based project RA. The paper was well received and sparked much discussion.

Further networking opportunities and cross-disciplinary dissemination of the project into the field of Digital Humanities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.derby.ac.uk/lhss/news-and-events/events/digital-humanities-conference/
 
Description Narrating Science in Public: The approach of an interdisciplinary project to create new reflective spaces, Science in Public Conference 2015: Research, Practice, Impact, Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This paper was co-authored by Dr Antonia Liguori, Research Assistant on the DRY project, based at Loughborough and it was presented by Dr Natasha Constant and Dr Liz Roberts, project RAs based at UWE.

The presentation has helped disseminate the project's contribution to science communication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://dryproject.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Abstract-for-Science-in-Public-conf-UWE-ver3.pdf
 
Description Participation in CADWAGO workshop in Sardinia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited to join this workshop as part of the CADWAGO workshop (Climate Adaptation and Water Governance), led by the Stockholm Environment Institute. The workshop was attended by delegates from Europe and Australia. As a result we have further developed our relationships with the Stockholm Environment Institute and the University of Sassari in Sardinia. We have also secured additional funding from AHRC's Connected Communities programme to develop a new method of community engagement that has arisen from engagement with the workshop and will involve input from both SEI and University of Sassari.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Public Health England presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a presentation by Prof M Wilson to a small group of senior members of the Extreme Events and Public Health Team at Public Health England to discuss our work on storytelling and environmental/health policy, in relation to DRY and Project ASPECT. It was agreed that there may be further opportunities for collaboration and we should keep the dialogue open.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Storytelling for drought resilience: local communities, memories and legacy, Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, Exeter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The paper was co-authored by Dr Antonia Liguori, Loughborough Research Assistant on the project and was presented by the other authors.

This is an important international academic audience for the project to be reaching and has helped make the work more visible within RGS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.rgs.org/WhatsOn/ConferencesAndSeminars/Annual+International+Conference/Annual+internation...
 
Description Utopia Fair (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in the AHRC Connected Communtiies Utopia Fair - interactive stall. During the Utopia Fair at Somerset House, we broadcasted a professionally made, edited film of 'The Reasons' (from the storytelling event in Ramsey) as part of an exhibition stand. We also promoted the activity run in the Bevills Leam catchment for DRY Project, and shared materials, available at the stand in both digital and hard copy formats. We invited visitors to watch some digital stories on iPads and share their ideas about potential approaches for conflict resolution within a community. Particular interest was reached by the song 'A River is a Snake' composed during the performative event organised in Ramsey in June, where people's stories were 'translated' into the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tAgtQkafJc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/utopia-2016