Afroza Haque: Developing new approaches to adaptation in Himalayan river basins

February 10, 2015
Marissa Van Epp

Afroza Haque is a recent graduate who is now working as a research officer with a consortium on Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE). HI-AWARE is one of four consortia that the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) is supporting to conduct research and policy engagement in climate change hot spots.

Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Afroza Haque works on climate change adaptation, livelihoods, and geospatial analysis with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies. This is her first job following her graduation from the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Science at the University of Chittagong. Joining the HI-AWARE consortium team was a logical next step: her thesis focused on approaches to climate change adaptation in both the interior and coastal areas of Bangladesh.

Developing new concepts to support adaptation

Haque's work with HI-AWARE focuses on two areas. First, she is helping to explore the socioeconomic drivers of vulnerability to climate change impacts. This research involves extensive field visits to conduct stakeholder and community consultations. Second, she and her team are investigating new concepts that the consortium hopes will help support adaptation in the glacier-fed basins of the Himalayas. One of these new concepts is “adaptation turning points” at which current policies and management practices are no longer effective and alternative strategies have to be considered. Another are “critical moments,” times of the year when specific climate risks are highest and when adaptation actions are most effective. HI-AWARE is pioneering a methodology for using these concepts to support adaptation. “This is really interesting work,” says Haque, “there are a lot of opportunities to learn so many things.”

Expanding geographic and disciplinary expertise

These learning opportunities are the result of the consortium work model, she explains. The consortium encourages interaction with people from different countries, with different backgrounds, knowledge, and opinions. Her work with the consortium has already given her opportunities to gain practical experience in geographic areas outside of her own institution’s focus. “Now I have the chance to see it myself,” she says, “it’s a great opportunity for me, and what I am able to add to my experience now will guide me in the future.”

Haque hopes the research she is contributing to will reveal the best adaptation options for specific areas. She thinks CARIAA’s focus on systematically promoting the uptake of this knowledge by practitioners and policymakers will help to maximize the impact of her team’s research. They are working to communicate with community members and policymakers, and to build the capacity of young researchers. She concludes: “I think this work will have a really positive impact.”

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Marissa Van Epp is a writer based in New York City.

CARIAA is a joint initiative of the UK’s Department for International Development and Canada’s International Development Research Centre. The program runs until 2019.

Photo (right): Afroza Haque

Haque works with communities in Bangladesh on climate change adaptation and livelihoods.