Using System Dynamics modelling in South African water management and planning

Jai Clifford Holmes, J Slinger, Carolyn G. Palmer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

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The effective governance and management of water has many environmental, socio- political, economic and technical dimensions, which frequently interweave in a ‘wicked web’ that presents significant challenges to planners, policy makers and networks of citizens. This chapter evaluates the use of system dynamics modelling (SDM) as a tool for policy analysis and planning, with emphasis on the management and governance of water in an African context. The strengths and limitations of SDM are related to the characteristic challenges of integrated water management and participatory water governance. A conceptual framework is posited for distinguishing between diverse motivations for undertaking modelling for developmental planning. The framework is used for reflecting on a selection of South African cases between 1980 and 2016. Three of these case studies are then described and discussed, emphasising how SDM was variously used to address some of the key challenges facing planning at different scales of water management. The outcomes of SDM-based interventions are discussed, including examples of models being used to inform the design of more equitable operational policies for water releases; the use of SDM to create shared focal points amongst stakeholder groups; modelling as an integrative activity that can synthesise knowledge drawn from different specialists and fields; and the appropriateness of SDM in the data-scarce and politically charged contexts of African water and coastal management.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSystem Dynamics Models for Africa’s Developmental Planning
EditorsA. Brent, T. Simelane
Place of PublicationPretoria, South Africa
Publisher African Institute of South Africa
ISBN (Print)978-0-7983-0516-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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