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In the Mara River Basin (Kenya) natural resources such as water and primary productivity of the ecosystems are important for different stakeholders. Stakeholders all suffer from the effects non-sustainable use of these natural resources. They also suffer periodically from drought spells. However, the way in which they are affected and the solutions to mitigate the effects of this are not necessarily the same.

Our approach

A wicked problem like this is in fact a system of interrelated problems where there are many players and the problem adapts – it changes and anything you do will change the problem. So what can you do to  find a solution? Well, learn about the problem, study and watch the system, appreciate other points of view, become skilled in how to use the system and educate stakeholders. In Spatial Engineering you learn the skills and methods to employ three knowledge areas in finding a solution to wicked problems.

  1. Technical engineering to be able to model and understand the physical processes
  2. Spatial information to know where, when and what is happening, and
  3. Spatial planning and governance to be able to use for interventions as well as predict socio economic drivers.

Case study - Food and water security

In the first year of Spatial Engineering, one of the case studies focusses on the situation in the Mara River Basin in Kenya. In this case study you will be working in a team at preparing a research report and a presentation for professionals assisting the local government (Narok County Council) in which you:

  • make an initial analysis of the problem of food and water insecurity as a result of non-sustainable use of natural resources; 
  • identify the different stakeholders;
  • describe the processes involved and develop at least three scenarios for the future of the area;
  • propose at least one effective and robust intervention to address the problem of food and water insecurity in the area from the view point of one stake holder;
  • analyze how this intervention affects mitigates the impact of food and water insecurity for the selected stake holder, and at least two other identified stake holders. Consider at least two concepts out of sustainability, equity, empowerment, equality and fairness in this comparison.

The report should clearly describe how research was set up to analyze this problem. Conclusions drawn from the analysis should be justified in a scientific manner and feed in to the proposed intervention.

You will argue from the viewpoint of one stakeholder what an effective and robust intervention would be. You will start by assessing what the impact of non-sustainable use of natural resources is for different stakeholders and how these impacts can be mitigated by possible interventions. You will develop at least three scenario’s for the next five years and assess the impact of at least one intervention under these scenarios to improve food and water security for the selected stakeholder in the area. The choice of used model (s) and data are justified and effects of uncertainty in data and models are described. This includes an assessment of how effective and robust the intervention possibly is.

Find out about the other case studies in Spatial Engineering
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