A deeper, systemic understanding of the water crisis - exploration using Causal Layered Analysis and other tools

We will be undertaking a deeper, systemic exploration of the underlying issues underpinning the water crisis using Causal Layered Analysis and other tools. Our participative processes will ensure that the voices of all - experts and ordinary citizens - is heard. In this way we can provide some deeper lesson learning when dealing with similar crises - in Cape Town and around the world.

Challenge Addressed:
Understanding the deep contextual background to this crisis provides us with useful insights when faced with similar challenges in future. If we understand the deep roots we can also put out our learnings to people around the world who may well be faced with a similar crisis going forward. How did we get here? What could we have done differently? What were some of the unintended consequences of well intentioned solutions and interventions? What is it at a deep cultural / structural level that took us down this path?

Proposed Outcomes:

  • A deep understanding of peoples’ perceptions of the roots of the crisis
  • A Causal Layered Analysis / Synthesis of what has happened and why
  • A written up, documented view to inform the discretion of others globally

Resources Needed:

Curiosity, an evidence based point of view and two feet (ok not even two) to get you through the door!

Looking forward to joining the exploration!

we can connect the results of our activities Systemic analisis of water uses and technology in home

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This makes perfect sense Ricardo. I’m meeting with Ian @Ianpat tomorrow

Watch Gene Bellinger’s Perspective project:

We would use this framework to map out all the data. Notice how Kumu allows storytelling on the left hand pane and the interactive graph map on the right hand pane. You can search the map in many ways. But it’s pretty amazing because it allows you to geographically map any data with location information onto a map with one click…so you can see where all the people in the network or all the projects are located. This is how we will program it.

So by focusing on a node, the left hand “profile” will come up to tell a story for that subgraph. In this way, you can tell a whole story about the map.

Then we would apply Insight maker Insight maker allows us to create agent based models of complex systems so that we can see what insights it can give us. We would apply goal seeking behavior on multiple levels and dimensions.

To hearn about Goal Seeking Archetype, click on the node on the big graph with the same name and it will open up the profile page. Watch the video on it.

You can browse all the existing Agent Based Models in this library of applications:

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@Ianpat, @endprogresstraps , this is a good article that analyzes the multiple dimensions of the national water crisis South Africa is facing:


Suppport papers here:

Key Points:

  1. Waste water treatment in South Africa is in an appalling condition. The 2014 Green Drop Report concluded that nearly a quarter of the country’s waste water treatment facilities were in a “critical state”, with another quarter listed as “high risk”. The Department of Water and Sanitation no longer publishes this report (a problem in itself), but local NGO AfriForum has attempted a similar enterprise. They found that two-thirds of tested facilities didn’t meet national water quality standards, an increase of more than 100% from 2016 levels.
  2. South Africa also doesn’t have a culture of water conservation. South Africans use a lot of water – 235 litres per person daily compared to a global average of 173 litres. Wealthy citizens probably consume much more than the national average, while disadvantaged South Africans probably consume far less.
  3. South Africa’s high per-capita usage rates are also, partly, a function of high levels of non-revenue water - mostly through physical leaks) and a high reliance on water-intensive coal-fired power plants for electricity.
  4. South Africa is overly dependent on surface water, and doesn’t sufficiently use other resources like groundwater.
  5. January 2018 - the Department of Water and Sanitation classified 243 of South Africa’s 565 rivers as low or very low.
  6. 2015 study from the OECD noted that over a quarter of the country’s river ecosystems were critically endangered.
  7. National government has not been investing in the development and maintenance of bulk infrastructure
  8. Provincial and local government have not managed demand effectively.

Clearly, as we map the proposed solutions, they must be contextualized within this complex weave of factors.


A UN-backed organization such as the Climate Technology Centre & Network might have the resources where local govt is lacking - see:

There are many other such organizations that could help internationally

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Thanks!. We should compile the various organizations and see where they may fit in.

@Ianpat is going to send out an invitation sometime next week to meet online to discuss how we carry this forward to the next level…looking at the resources we have available to us. What outputs make sense for us to aim at.