Complex water-related disasters such as floods and droughts are becoming more prevalent and intense due to changing climate. While these adversities are often understood as natural disasters, we argue that radically different approaches are needed to explore water-related disasters, and people’s vulnerability to them, as multifaceted environmental-social processes. This is of outmost importance as the way the adversities are approached influence how response efforts are planned and implemented.

The research project “Water and Vulnerability in Fragile Societies” (WATVUL) seeks to provide new insights into multifaceted links between bio-physical and sociopolitical processes connected with water and vulnerability in Cambodia, Indonesia and Mexico.

This four-year (2018-2022) consortium project between the University of Helsinki and Aalto University is funded by the Academy of Finland. The consortium is led by Professor Anja Nygren. The sub-project of Aalto is led by Assistant Professor Matti Kummu.

The selected study areas consist of: 1) Mekong River basin floodplains in Cambodia; 2) Central Kalimantan, Indonesia; and 3) Grijalva River basin, in Tabasco, south-eastern Mexico.