Academic Theses

IMG_20140212_105819

Authors & Affiliations:

1 J. Macedo, 2 M. Souvanhnachit, 3 S. Rattanavong, 4 B. Maokhamphiou, 4 T. Sotoukee, 4 P. Pavelic, 1 M. Sarkis, 1 T. Downs

1 Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University, Worcester, MA. U.S.A.

2 Department of Water Resources Engineering, National University of Laos, Vientiane, Lao PDR

3 Independent Consultant, Washington DC, U.S.A.

4 International Water Management Institute Vientiane, Lao PDR

Abstract

Climate change risks pose significant challenge to smallholder irrigators who rely on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. Increased mean surface temperatures, varying rainfall, increasing evaporation and declining soil moistures all serve to impact productivity. Groundwater irrigation poses promising potential for agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of smallholders. Groundwater irrigation for agriculture use requires constant water quality monitoring. This excerpt is part of a field research, which assessed the impacts of biochar and fertilizer treatments on soil nutrients status, soil moisture, irrigation groundwater quality for agricultural use on the growth and yield of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). Groundwater quality was monitored to determine the levels of electric conductivity (EC) and total dissolved solids (TDS) determinants of salinity and sodium, calcium, and magnesium to calculate the sodium absorption ratio (SAR) to estimate sodicity. The methods involved daily field tests to measure EC, TDS, pH, temperature, and detailed chemical analysis. The results indicate that the mean EC (0.021 dS/m; SD = 0.010) is significantly less than the salinity tolerance threshold for water spinach (< 1.3 dS/m) and the mean TDS (12 ppm; SD = 4.5) with mean soil pH 6.6. The results suggest that the irrigation groundwater quality was suitable for agriculture and the chance of salinity was significantly low. The computed SAR 0.174 was significantly lower than the normal level (<10) above which soil water permeability could result from sodic soil condition. The results demonstrate that groundwater use for agriculture could assist smallholders adapt to climate change risks, but judicious use requires constant monitoring of groundwater quality and resources to increase crop yield and improve soil health.


Key Words: Salinity, Sodicity, Groundwater Quality, Electric Conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids, Sodium Absorption Ratio


Presentation:


 

Authors & Affiliations:

1 J. Macedo, 2 M. Souvanhnachit, 3 S. Rattanavong, 4 B. Maokhamphiou, 4 T. Sotoukee, 4 P. Pavelic, 1 M. Sarkis, 1 T. Downs

1 Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University, Worcester, MA. U.S.A.

2 Department of Water Resources Engineering, National University of Laos, Vientiane, Lao PDR

3 Independent Consultant, Washington DC, U.S.A.

4 International Water Management Institute Vientiane, Lao PDR

Abstract:
Climate change and climate variability pose significant risks to smallholders in the rainfed lowlands of Lao PDR. Increased surface temperatures, declining rainfall, persistent drought and depletion of soil nutrients all serve to impact agricultural productivity and livelihoods. This study investigates the impact of five treatments on soil nutrients, moisture, plant growth, and yield of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). The treatments tested were rice husk biochar only, biochar inoculated with manure, manure tea, inorganic fertilizer and the control. The costs and benefits of the treatments were also assessed. The randomized complete block design was used to assign five treatments and eight replications to the experimental units. Biochar was produced through slow pyrolysis. Soil physical properties were assessed with the visual soil assessment method and 15-randomized soil samples were collected for chemical analyses. Sprinklers were used for irrigation and a weather station installed to monitor the climate. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data. Costs-benefits evaluation of the treatments was conducted to determine the net benefits relative to the initial costs ratio. The analysis of variance of mean yield indicates that the difference in yield among the treatments was highly significant. The computed F value (8.28) was higher than the F critical (2.64) at the 5% level of significance. The calculated coefficient of variance of mean yield was 17.33%. The net benefits to initial costs ratio of treatments suggest that the control (4.11), biochar inoculated with manure plus NPK (1.64), and biochar plus manure tea (1.01) are preferred. The net benefits and initial costs evaluation of treatments is important to assess whether utilizing these treatments would impact smallholders’ livelihoods. The results of this study contribute to the evidence that biochar could play an essential role to mitigate climate change risks by enhancing soil quality and increase agricultural productivity.

 Key Words: Biochar, Lao PDR, Climate Change, IWMI, Ekxang village, Sustainable Agricilture, Water Yield
Presented at: Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture held in Montpelier, France March 16-18, 2015

LIBERIAN REFUGEES IN GHANA: Environmental Security Implications of the Indiscriminate Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste

Abstract:

Liberian refugees have been seeking refuge at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement (BRS) in Ghana for more than two decades. There have been two successfully held elections in Liberia since the end of the 14-year civil war in 2003. Drawing from these
elections, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) terminated all humanitarian assistance to Liberian refugees in hope of a return. In spite of this, Liberian refugees continue to live at the BRS in deplorable sanitary conditions. This thesis explores the environmental security implications of the indiscriminate disposal of municipal solid waste in the local environment at the BRS. The mixed methods approach was used to collect data through personal observations, freelists, pilesorts, surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups directed to refugees, state and non-state actors. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) data were collected from the sanitation team of the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS) at the BRS and the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) to record waypoints of open dumpsites. The results indicate that the indiscriminate disposal of MSW in the local environment is associated with elevated increase of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), land pollution and the outbreak of water-borne diseases at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement.

 Research Interests:

Thesis Defense Presentation

The Environmental Impacts of Warehousing Refugees: A Case Study of Liberian Refugees at the Buduburam Refugees Camp

in Ghana

 Abstract:

Much of the literature on refugee warehousing and their impacts on the host country’s environment assumes that refugees are exceptional resource degraders. The dominant conceptualization of refugees’ impacts on the host country’s environment treats refugees as actors with destructive behaviors rather than seeing the degradation as a result of inappropriate government policies, inefficient humanitarian assistance, and the lack of effective plan by host countries to foster durable solution. This study challenged these assumptions through the use of a questionnaire directed at refugees at the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana. The questionnaires concern the patterns of environmental resources use among refugees and was analyzed using SPSS version 17 to run regression and correlation tests for items pertaining to resource use with those pertaining to environmental degradation. We hypothesized that warehousing refugees in camps significantly influenced their impacts on the local environment of the host country. We also hypothesized that warehousing of refugees has a significant relationship with their inability to locally integrate in the host county. The result suggests that warehousing of refugees in camps (M= 2.55; SD = 0.969) significantly influence (F (2, 288) = 37. 687, P value = (0.000)) the relationship between resource use (Agricultural activities M = 1.42; SD = 0.495 and firewood use M = 1.60; SD = 0.490) and environmental degradation. The evidence also indicates that there is a significant positive relationship (R (303) = 0.121, P value of (0.036), Alpha (0.05) between warehousing refugees in organized camps (M = 2.58, SD = 0.975) and their inability to locally integrate in the host country (M = 1.88, SD = 0.839).


Research Interests:
Presented at the 2011 Association of American Geographers, Washington Convention Center, Seattle, Washington State, US:

Abstract:

The refugee crisis is a universal phenomenon. The integration of refugees into the local communities pose a serious challenge both to the UN Refugee Agency, the governments of host countries, the local communities in which refugees are hosted and the refugees themselves. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world’s refugee population is estimated to be about 14 million. This study investigated the integration of refugees in the host country and the impacts that warehousing refugees in camps has on the prospect of local integration. A total of 311 Liberian refugees at the Buduburam refugee camp participated in a survey in 2009. SPSS version 17 was used to analyze the data by conduction correlation analysis. We hypothesized that refugees’ lack of interaction with the local host has a relationship with their inability to locally integrate and lack of local integrate is influenced by warehousing refugees in camps. The evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship (R (253) = 0.292, P (0.000), Alpha (0.01) between refugees’ lack of interaction with the local host (M = 7.31, SD = 5.569) and their inability to locally integrate (M = 3.62, SD = 0.1.119). The evidence also suggests that there is a positive correlation (R (253) = 0.292, P (0.000), Alpha (0.01) between the warehousing of refugees in refugee camps (M = 7.31, SD = 5.569) and lack of integration (M = 3.62, SD = 0.1.119).


 Research Interests:
Poster Presentation:

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