Wade Hadwen

Wade Hadwen

Wade Hadwen, Australia

Dr Wade Hadwen is a Lecturer and a member of the Australian Rivers Institute and the Griffith Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University. He has over 20 years of experience working in riverine and coastal ecosystems, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and industry monographs. Wade’s research examines the relationships and connectedness between humans and water – in terms of environmental impacts, climate change threats and adaptation options and, most recently, human health risks. His multidisciplinary climate change adaptation research has brought together diverse research teams to focus on evaluating threats and identifying pathways to adaptation which avoid unintended and often regrettable ecological, social and economic consequences.

Presentation Title: It all comes out in the WaSH – the need for integrated water resource management to deliver climate-resilient and sustainable water and sanitation services.

Acute water issues, exacerbated by climate change, threaten the health and well-being of many Pacific Island people. To assist with the development of climate-resilient WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) services, we investigated the social and biophysical contexts of 13 rural communities in the flood prone Solomon Islands (SI) and the drought prone Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Specifically, we conducted in-depth household interviews and community focus groups to understand WaSH services and community responses to extreme weather events. All communities have learned to cope with climate disasters by utilising multiple water sources and modifying usage behaviours to suit the prevailing conditions. For example, over 84% of households surveyed in RMI reported dependence on rainwater for drinking, even during times of drought. This prioritisation of rainwater for drinking is supported by the use of large storage tanks and culturally-reinforced austere water usage behaviours. In SI, a country with frequent flooding, 46% of households reported using rainwater for drinking under non-flood conditions, but this increased to 70% during times of flooding as other sources of water, such as wells, rivers and natural springs, were considered to be contaminated at these times. However, as rainwater is commonly collected in cooking pots, some households consumed surface or groundwater at times of the year where there is a heightened risk of exposure to contaminants. Our modelling of the survey data has enabled the identification of climate threats to water security, the vulnerability of different water sources and the risks associated with poor sanitation management. Considering WaSH in the context of the water-focused Sustainable Development Goal (Goal 6), our research also highlights the intimate connections between water resources and human communities (and their waste) and identifies the interventions needed to ensure that climate-vulnerable Pacific communities develop in a healthy and sustainable way.

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