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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
Dramatically. My native home is very close to a major river in Sri Lanka. Flooding was an annual event. But now, places that used to get inundated mildly are inundated heavily. All this increased flooding has gone hand in hand with the filling in of wetlands. Pair that with climate change, and we are having “100-year floods” sometimes twice a year.
In Sri Lanka, our wetlands are sponges. If wetlands could be preserved, it would help communities and also help the economy, because every flood comes with a major cost. We’ve been told that to stop flooding we have to use hard engineering. People default to hard structural solutions [such as dams or levees]. But structures can fail.
It started with my work on irrigation systems. When I went into the field as a researcher, I found that a lot of [irrigation] work being done by women is unrecorded and unregistered. I also found that men and women irrigated differently— women tended to share water more. The more I looked at situations where water security is threatened, the more I started [to feel] that it is important to engage both men and women, because they have different roles in the water sector.
Too much planning is done at a high level. Communities have to understand what is happening and what the impact on them will be. With nature-based solutions, you often do community engagement at a very early stage, and that is important. Community engagement is an interactive, two-way process. I start with an open mind and listen.