Researcher looks at water management in arid climates
In arid regions around the world water is a valuable commodity; therefore, effective water resource management is critical to the survival of farmers who harvest the land in these sometimes harsh and dry climates.
Irene Perez Ibarra is a postdoctoral research fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity. While at ASU, she is conducting research in arid and semi-arid regions to determine how farmers manage their water resources and how they adapt to environmental and socioeconomic changes.
“I am studying how farmers develop their rules for water sustainability and how they evolve and respond to external forces, such as climate changes and economic growth,” says Perez Ibarra. “I hope my research can lead to better policy decisions and better use of limited resources.”
Perez Ibarra came to ASU from Spain on a two-year scholarship awarded to her from the Seneca Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports science and technology research and education.
She says she chose ASU because of the exceptional research the center is doing in water resource management and institutional analysis.
While at the university, she is conducting two case studies, one in Southeast Spain, the most arid region in Europe, and the other in Baja California, Mexico. In Spain, the farmers use water from natural springs, and in Mexico, they use water from local oases. Perez Ibarra is monitoring how farmers irrigate their land using these various water resources, the water management policies they implement and how they adapt to changes over time.
She is using field observation and interviews to collect her data. Based on her research, Perez Ibarra will develop an agent-based model to simulate the robustness of the farmers’ water management policies. She also plans to write scientific articles, and she will present her findings to stakeholders and government officials in Spain and Mexico.
“I hope the conclusions from my research will lead to better water conservation and better water governance in these and other arid regions around the world that will help to improve the peoples’ quality of life,” says Perez Ibarra.
Perez Ibarra arrived at ASU in March 2010 and will continue to work here until March 2012. She will then return to Spain and continue to research water management and institutional governance in arid climates.
Written by Scott Southward in ASU's Consortium for Biosocial Complex Systems.