Games examine water use cooperation, decision-making
In rural India and Colombia, people are making time to play games that simulate real-life scenarios regarding increasingly diminishing water supplies. Groups of villagers are asked to work together to determine water use strategies – such as what crop to plant and what type of irrigation system to use – all while keeping an eye on dwindling amounts of groundwater. If their groundwater allotment is exceeded, it’s game over.
The experimental games are an innovative approach to studying resource sharing and cooperation among people, as well as whether the use of such games can strengthen cooperation.
In recognition of World Water Day, which kicked off the International Year of Water Cooperation on March 22, the International Food Policy Research Institute ran an article highlighting the games. The pioneering research is a collaborative endeavor of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Arizona State University, India’s Foundation for Ecological Security and Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes.
Marco Janssen, director of ASU's Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, is optimistic about the long-term impact of the project.
“By working in many villages we have a unique opportunity to test the effects of a participatory tool on actual water use,” says Janssen, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “If successful, such an approach can have wide applications in natural resource management all over the world.”