Reflections on the River Basin Game: Role-playing facilitation of surface water allocation in contested environments.
This paper reflects on a role-playing game designed to assist water users that share small river catchments in Tanzania in both understanding the factors that affect productivity of water and in better appreciating their mutual inter-dependence on water. The paper describes the preparation, objectives, schedule and outcomes of the role-playing event, and comments on the benefits and limitations of this tool in assisting stakeholders in resolving water conflicts and sharing water more equitably. The case study is the Mkoji sub-catchment in the Ruaha Basin where many, relatively poor users share limited amounts of water for various purposes including surface irrigation from multiple intakes (uppermost get most of the water during the dry season), domestic use, cattle-keeping and fishing using in-stream water. Further downstream there are also wetland, wildlife and hydropower calls on water. This game supports a river basin management research project working in the area called RIPARWIN (Raising Irrigation Productivity and Releasing Water for Intersectoral Needs). The two-day workshop during which the game was played was found to be a great success and will be repeated soon by request, although not enough time has elapsed to comment on its longer-term impact. The game probably has application to Mediterranean catchments where surface water is shared by users in an upstream-to-downstream order dictated by gravity, and where upstream users have primary call over water to the detriment of downstream users.
Paper presented at the ICID 20th European Regional Conference, 17-19 September 2003, Montpellier, France. 14 pp.