Vulnerability Assessment of Rural Communities in Southern Saskatchewan
Water resources in Canada are of major environmental, social and economic value. It is expected that climate change will be accompanied by more intense competition for water supply in water-stressed agricultural areas such as the southern Prairies. Beyond physical impacts, drought can be seen as a socio-economic and political problem which ultimately has implications for community-level vulnerability to climate change. This thesis presents empirical vulnerability case studies focused on the exposure-sensitivity and adaptive capacity of Coronach and Gravelbourg in southern Saskatchewan. The results illustrate the fact that farmers or ranchers are not merely passive victims of drought. They also take an active role in shaping the environment around them, thus affecting their own vulnerability to drought. Therefore, by understanding the causal linkages of the coupled social-environment system, a more comprehensive understanding of community vulnerability is achievable and informed decisions can be made based on this thorough understanding of local conditions. In the second part of this thesis, the potential of soft water path is evaluated as a possible adaptation strategy. Based on the results gathered in the first part of this thesis, adaptation measures are tailored to address specific needs of different sectors in the Town of Coronach and the Town of Gravelbourg while ensuring ecological sustainability. Examples of possible paths (adaptation measures) are suggested in order to increase community adaptive capacity to water shortages in light of future climate changes.