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Professor Awarded Fellowship to Conduct Research in Central Asia

May 5, 2010

mapDr. David Smith, Ohio Northern University associate professor of geography, will travel to the Republic of Tajikistan to conduct research on water and conflict issues in Central Asia after being awarded a U.S. Embassy Policy Specialist (EPS) program fellowship from the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).

For two months, Smith will advise and report his research to the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan. Smith’s research will focus on the potential for conflict over water resources in the region, Tajikistan’s dam-building efforts and how their plans are contributing to cooperation and conflict with its neighbors, and the effect of the continuing unrest in neighboring Afghanistan.

Smith will also examine the consequences of climate change, which would contribute to political destabilization and trigger migration in Central Asia. As warming progresses, it is likely to intensify national and international conflicts over scarce resources. It is indisputable that glaciers around the world, and especially in mountainous Tajikistan, are retreating. It is also indisputable that if glaciers continue to retreat, and the country experiences more extreme weather, countless people will be dealt an even harder blow.

While in Tajikistan, Smith will present his research during a United Nations (UN) meeting. The UN General Assembly declared 2003 to be the International Year of Fresh Water the period from 2005 to 2015 to be the International Decade of Action “Water for Life.” 2010 marks the mid-point of the International Decade tor Action “Water for Life” and provides an opportunity for a mid-term comprehensive review of achievements during the first half of the Decade, with the provision of policy guidance for the remainder of the Decade.

Created in 2005, the EPS program at IREX has grown into a major fellowship under the U.S. Department of State’s Title VIII program. The EPS fellowship has enabled U.S. scholars to provide research and consultations to embassy staff on critical foreign policy issues. The EPS program gives U.S. scholars the opportunity to serve as researchers-in-residence at U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the countries of Eurasia.

Established in 1968, IREX is an international nonprofit organization providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media, and foster pluralistic civil society development.