The Potential Role of Mental Model Methodologies in Multistakeholder Negotiations: Integrated Water Resources Management in South Africa
Derick R Du Toit, Association for Water and Rural Development
Harry Biggs, South African National Parks
Sharon Pollard, Association for Water and Rural Development
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Equitable redistribution of resources is an emergent phenomenon in democratizing countries, and attempts are often characterized by decentralized decision making within a framework of multistakeholder negotiations. South Africa offers a unique opportunity to explore the manifestations of these relationships, particularly through Integrated Water Resources Management and its National Water Act of 1998. The Integrated Water Resources Management framework provides for collaborative strategic planning, shared visioning, consideration to water resource protection, attention to the regulation of use, operational planning, and implementation of management plans. Water users, with different stakes and views of how the resource should be managed, are expected to arrive at a single strategic plan for a specific hydrological region. Clearly this complex planning situation creates a need for tools that assist in producing a measure of convergence in thinking and enough of a shared rationale to allow stakeholder participation to produce an integrated management outcome. Several such tools are available in the overall catchment management strategy, but these would benefit from clearer understanding of the positions from which different stakeholders are operating and a way of knowing whether these positions are aligning. In this paper challenges posed by differences in meaning and understanding amongst stakeholders are examined against the need to engage stakeholders in water resources management. We deliberate on the prospects of employing mental model methodologies within the context of the strategic management framework for water management described.
mental models; participatory water management; stakeholder negotiation