SaliDraa JuJ

iES Landau, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau

Ort: Landau, Germany; Region Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco
Seit: 2019
Bis: 2024
Aktiv in: Lehre; Forschung; Wissenschaftskommunikation; Netzwerke aufbauen; akademisches Publizieren
Kategorie: Forschungsprojekte & -gruppen

Das übergeordnete Ziel eurer Arbeit:

Salt in the system: Long-term management of an arid riverscape towards the protection of its ecosystems and dependent livelihoods.


Beschreibt in bis zu 100 Worten, wer ihr seid und was ihr macht:

We are a German-Moroccan research group that analyses the consequences of climate change and human activities on the Draa River Basin, South-East Morocco. In the Draa River Basin, climate change, the overuse of water resources and falling groundwater levels contribute to increasing salinization of soils and water bodies. This negatively affects the survival of local plant and animal species, reduces agricultural production and threatens human well being, which is symptomatic also for other arid regions. Using inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, we aim to understand these consequences and give insights into potential solutions for a sustainable water use.


3 thematische Schwerpunkte eurer Arbeit:

What are the key drivers of salinisation & water depletion in the Draa River Basin?

How is the river ecosystem being affected by salinisation & water depletion? And how does this impact on livelihoods and social interactions?

How can the identified problems be addressed and the resilience of the Draa River Basin be strengthened?


Beschreibt eure Aktivitäten in zehn Stichworten:

Salinisation; social-ecological system; ecosystem services; resource conflicts; institutional analysis; inter- and transdisciplinarity; altering livelihoods; desert rivers; climate change; biomonitoring

Wo würdet ihr eure Praxis verorten zwischen…

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Our focus is a local case study that could be inspirational for other regions with similar characteristics.

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We try to stay away from ideologies and ground knowledge production in empirical realities.

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The core team consists of full-time professionals, but also relies on volunteers for field-work activities.

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Under the reality of globlal change, solutions for sustainable development need to be realistic.

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We are a young research team in social-ecological systems that is new to the field (PhDs or shortly after PhD).

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The project strongly relies on a transdisciplinary approach, in which local stakeholders contribute in the problem definition of the project.

Mit welcher eurer Aktivitäten aus der letzten Zeit seid ihr besonders zufrieden und warum?

Despite the pandemic and inability to go to the field, we managed to conduct certain activities:

– We organized an online advisory board meeting and it was inspiring to get the feedback of different experts on our research project.

– We conducted phone interviews with different kinds of farmers. Although it is a challenge to reach out to certain actors (for example rural women, rural actors living in remote areas), the conducted interviews also turned out to be insightful.

– We wrote a first truly interdisciplinary article with methods and results spanning molecular biology to sociology.


Welche Aktivitäten habt ihr als nächstes geplant?

– Practical experiments on the biodiversity – ecosystem function link and conceptual work on the ecosystem function – ecosystem services – human conflict link.

– Preparing teaching on Global Change and Sustainability for the coming semester (WS20/21)

– Policy and stakeholder analyses in the study region

– When conditions allow: Bring German and Moroccan bachelor and/or master students in environmental sciences to the Draa valley, to better understand the complexity of environmental management and planning

– Scientific publishing of research results


Zu welchem Thema würdet ihr gerne arbeiten oder aktiv werden, wenn ihr keinen praktischen Einschränkungen (z.B. Finanzierung, Zeit) unterläget?

Lived emotions around changing water quality/salinization and environmental change in general. The transmission of local knowledge and the loss of local knowledge from one generation to the other. Local knowledge of women in the oasis and how to preserve this.

Welche zentrale Lernerfahrung habt ihr in eurer Arbeit zu Transdisziplinarität und transformativer Wissenschaft gemacht?

Promoting transformation is highly political, and it is challenging to do so while keeping all stakeholders on board. So as a researcher, you sometimes have to act as facilitator rather than as critical scholar and accept that change proposed by stakeholders can be in conflict with your own vision or ideas of how environmental change should be done. Finally, you need to accept that it is a slow process, since it takes a lot of time and continuous effort to agree on mutual project aims with stakeholders and to cross disciplinary boundaries.


Was ist euer Geheimtipp für die Arbeit zu Transdisziplinarität und transformativer Wissenschaft?

Make the individuals you work with flourish and create a creative environment in which each voice and strand of thinking is respected. Cherish diversity, thereby accepting that you are not an expert in all domains. Be reflexive about your own values, beliefs and practices and stay open for change and other approaches.


Was ist die größte Herausforderung bei Aktivitäten zu Transdisziplinarität und transformativer Wissenschaft?

A big challenge are power relations and the question on how to include all stakeholders and equally recognize their insights and voices. Moreover, transformative science is political, but politics is not the sphere where most researchers feel or act comfortably, thus it is not easy to engage with.


Welche institutionellen und/oder strukturellen Faktoren erschweren euch die Aktivitäten im Bereich Transdisziplinarität und transformative Wissenschaft?

Time and publication pressure.

The lack of long-term research possibilities for scholars in today’s academic world and the associated thinking in short-term projects.

Hierarchies and competition between different scientific disciplines.

The political situation can complicate transdisciplinary research activities.


Was sind aus eurer Sicht blinde Flecken im Diskurs zu transformativer Wissenschaft?

This question is difficult to answer, since we may not know all ongoing discourses. However, we have the impression that the WHAT is clearer than the HOW. For instance, different forms of knowledge are important, but HOW to truly value different forms of knowing?

Stand: September 2020