This collaborative research program focuses on drought vulnerabilities. Using a vulnerability approach, it focuses on rural residents’ exposure and adaptation to drought impacts in rural Saskatchewan. The goal of the research program is to develop a systematic understanding of the processes that shape the impacts of drought on rural communities and livelihoods, and the present and future conditions and strategies that enhance or constrain adaptive capacity to water shortages. In this context, the program’s objectives are:


  1. To identify the characteristics of the 2001–02 droughts, their general impacts on the various economic sectors of the selected communities, and the potential characteristics of droughts in these areas under future climate conditions.
  2. To examine the different forms of exposure to drought of rural residents, rural producers, and rural organizations of the selected communities.
  3. To examine the adaptation process, including implementation of adaptive capacity, assessments and expectations of existing drought risk-reducing programs and policies in the context of past and future droughts.
  4. To foster a dialogue between governance agencies and communities to assess both the past and present efficacy of drought policy at the federal and provincial level, in terms of drought planning, strategies and ability to assist residents to adapt, and to discuss drought strategies in the context of future climate conditions and of adaptation capacity building and longer-term planning.


The program has addressed this goal and objectives through a comparative study of six rural communities in Saskat­chewan, using the 2001–02 droughts as the central climate event. Five of the study communities (Shaunavon, Maple Creek, Gravelbourg, Coronach and Kindersley) are located within the Palliser Triangle – noted for its long-term moisture deficit and recurrent exposure to extreme drought events—while the sixth community, Maidstone, lies outside the Palliser Triangle region. In-depth interviews with a total of 178 residents of the six study communities constituted a major part of the research effort. Interviews were conducted between June and September 2010 with agricultural producers, urban and rural municipal officials, business operators, and a variety of other people representing diverse occupational and institutional categories.


This collaborative research program brings together social scientists and practitioners, with the support of climatologists, integrating considerable expertise in the fields of drought and climate change impacts, human community vulnerability and resilience, and governance, building on the previous scholarship of team members. It has benefited from the contributions of the following research team members:


Dr. Harry Diaz (Sociology and Social Studies, University of Regina)

Dr. David Sauchyn (Geography, University of Regina and Research Coordinatior Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative)

Dr. Suren Kulshreshtha  (Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan)

Dr. Johanna Wandel (Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo)

Elaine Wheaton (Climatology, University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Research Council)

Margot Hurlbert (Justice Studies, University of Regina)

Darrell Corkal , P.Eng. (Agri-Environment Services Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Jeremy Pittman (Saskatchewan Watershed Authority)

Dr. Harvey Hill (Agri-Environment Services Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Jim Warren (PhD Candidate. University of Regina)

Sam Hage (PhD Candidate University of Regina)

Samantha Kerr (MA Geography, University of Regina)

Saima Abasi (MA Candidate, University of Saskatchewan)

Fanny Luk (MA Geography, University of Waterloo)

Lyle Thomson (Saskatchewan Watershed Authority)

Pat Barret-Deibert (Project Administrative Assistant, Prairie Regional Adaptation Collaborative)


The research program seeks to facilitate policy-oriented research on the impacts of drought on different types of rural community residents, producers, and organizations; their capacities to reduce these impacts; and their assessments and expectations of existing drought risk-reducing programs and policies. The project has been implemented with the collaboration of the Canadian Plains Research Center and the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative of the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Waterloo; and in partnership with the the Agri-Environment Services Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (former Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration-- PFRA), the Saskatchewan Research Council, and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.


The project offers thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its financial support to this project.


Below you can access the final research report published in August 2012.   

RCAD Research Report - August 2012


The following is a password protected link to the transcribed interviews conducted during the RCAD project. Respecting confidentiality of those interviewed only project researchers may access the files. For more information about access contact Dr. Harry Diaz at the University of Regina.

Access interviews by clicking here