WIT Press

The Drought, The Irrigators, And Their Photographs: Images From The Inside


Free (open access)





Page Range

241 - 250




471 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


G. Kuehne & H. Bjornlund


This paper describes a photo-elicitation study conducted with irrigators in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin during a time of severe drought. This method was chosen because of its ability to elicit the expression of more deeply felt beliefs and values than interviews by themselves. Using visual methods combined with personal interviews, the aim of the study was to uncover the influences on irrigators’ decision-making and their expectations for the future. The analysis of the interview transcripts in conjunction with the analysis of the photographs shows that irrigators have become dispirited and often no longer see a future for themselves in the industry. It was also evident that non-profit-maximising values, such as lifestyle and the prospect of family succession, are still powerful influences on irrigators’ behaviour, even during a time of such severe financial distress. This study suggests that the programs and policies aimed at assisting irrigators, even during this time when financial issues could have been assumed to have been their most pressing concern, could be better designed so that they provide a more compatible match with irrigators’ values and attitudes. This would potentially lead to less social, environmental and economic distress for the individuals and communities of the irrigation regions. Keywords: decision-making, irrigators, photo-elicitation. 1 Introduction Drought in Australia, while a regular and expected occurrence, is not usually expected to be as persistent and as severe as that currently being experienced in


decision-making, irrigators, photo-elicitation