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MUISKA : tackling risks to water security

Project news

The world is experiencing high levels of water insecurity, and vulnerable communities are experiencing the devastating consequences.

water@leeds researchers at the School of Civil Engineering are developing MUISKA - a water security risk assessment toolkit which aims to improve management of water-security risks in river basins.

This research forms part of work by the Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub which is a systems approach to dealing with water security at a global scale, and is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund – UKRI.

The MUISKA approach takes into account water-security risks in five dimensions and four scales and is based on systems perspective, hydrocomplexity, risk science, participatory research, and prioritisation process. 

With research partners at Universidad del Cauca, Colombia, the Leeds team is working with local communities in Cajibío in the Upper Cauca River Basin to develop the approach and is involving key actors in water security. 

Six Steps:

MUISKA involves six steps, which follow a logical order for risk analysis: identification of the entire universe of water-security hazards for a specific river basin; qualitative description of the hazard impacts by scales and dimensions; prioritisation of impacts to be fully assessed; full risk assessment of prioritised impacts by analysis of hazards, exposure, vulnerabilities, uncertainties, and the strength of the knowledge; risk visualisation; and outlining a risk management plan. 

The team are running workshops with community participants in Cajibío using the six steps of this approach. Participants have identified water uses and problems and created a network of hazards and consequences.  In 2024, the final findings will be shared with all relevant water-security parties in Cajibío.  

MUISKA project leader Dr Carolina Montoya Pachongo, said:

We believe MUISKA could be useful for communities, organisations, academics, and practitioners dealing with or involved in water security.

MUISKA can strengthen other ways of thinking to address water security issues for better water and land-use planning and risk prevention, help to increase the sense of belonging of participants as inhabitants of the same river basins, and foster collaborations among citizens for future development of water and sanitation initiatives. 

We are very grateful to the Cajibío community for their generosity with their time, enthusiasm and for sharing their knowledge and experience in water security in their territory. 

MUISKA Research team:

University of Leeds: Dr Carolina Montoya Pachongo, Dr Miller Camargo-Valero, Prof Barbara Evans, Prof Mark Trigg, Ángela Bayona Valderrama, School of Civil Engineering and Dr Rachael Carrie, School of Earth and Environment. 

Universidad del Cauca : Prof Apolinar Figueroa  and the Environmental Studies Research Group.

Photographs above were taken members of the project team in Cajibío.