For Hélène A Le Deunff, interactions between humans, water and animals are a vital consideration in effective water management.

While working for several years in international development projects and programs, Hélène encountered several situations where relations with domestic animals or wildlife were an integral part of people’s wellbeing, dignity and identity—yet these interactions were seldom considered in water management decisions.  This led Hélène to her PhD at UNSW, where she is looking at how non-human others, such as animals, can play a more visible part in water decisions. Hélène has been using the capital of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati as a case study for her research. Last month, she undertook some field work in-country, completing a multi-species analysis of this water community by collecting data from local people—and pigs—about their water interactions.

Hélène’s approach acknowledges that water issues are not exclusively human, and defines ‘participation’ in water management far more broadly than just humans participating in meetings—extending the definition to any material engagements with and through water that happen in everyday transactions.

Her interdisciplinary research receives joint support from two UNSW Schools: The School of Environmental Humanities and Languages at UNSW Sydney and the School of Physical, Environmental & Mathematical Sciences at UNSW Canberra.