Guiding community discussions on human-water-related challenges by serious gaming in the upper Ewaso Ng’iro river basin, Kenya
Abstract. Water-related conflicts in river catchments occur due to both internal and external pressures that affect catchment water availability. Lack of shared understanding by catchment stakeholders increase the complexity of human-water issues at the river catchment scale. Among a range of participatory approaches, the development and use of serious games gained prominence as a tool to stimulate discussion and reflection among stakeholders about sustainable resource use and collective action. This study designed and implemented the ENGAGE game (Exploring New Gaming Approach to Guide and Enlighten), that mimics the dynamics observed during the dry season in the upper Ewaso Ng’iro catchment, North West of Mount Kenya. The purpose of this study was to explore the potential role of serious gaming in subsequent steps of strengthening stakeholder engagement (agenda setting, shared understanding, commitment to collective action, and means of implementation) toward addressing complex human-water-related challenges at the catchment scale. We assessed the type of decisions made during gameplay, the communication dynamics, active participation, and the implication of decisions made on water availability. The results of three game sessions show that the ENGAGE game raised awareness and provided a recognizable hydro-logic background to conflicts while guiding community discussions toward implementable decisions. The results revealed increasing active participation, knowledge gain, and use of plural pronouns, and decreasing individual interests and conflicts among game participants. This study presents important implications for creating a collective basis for water management and can inform human-water policies and modification of the process behind water allocation rules in a river catchment.
Status: open (until 20 Mar 2024)
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