Water Cooperation and Diplomacy

A joint MSc Programme, organized by:

Highlights master's theses

The first Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Master students graduated in 2017. We highlight below the research undertaken by the graduates for their master thesis. Their research shows how diverse the topic of water diplomacy is.

Globalization of Water Resources: Examining Social Learning Using Serious Gaming

By Fatima Abdelbagi Mahmoud Taha, Sudan

The research aimed to make a comparison of social experiences by examining the Water Footprint Computer Assisted Board Game (WFCABG) - a serious game concerning the Water Footprint concept - as a tool for enhancing the social learning of water resources issues surrounding commodities trade. The study engaged 73 students and staff from various countries and professional backgrounds, in two academic settings in two different countries: Oregon State University (United States) and the University for Peace (Costa Rica).


The game focused on showing how complicated are the negotiations over water on the international scale. It emphasised on trade-offs concerning water use for different commodities and the environment, a major factor in the decision making. The game could be used for different purposes other than providing a safe learning environment and training, such as encouraging participation and for social behaviour change.


However, careful use of the game mission should be considered in different contexts. The simulation had a great effect on the social learning by increasing the students’ familiarity, enriching their understanding of water-related management issues, enhancing their negotiation skills, and increasing the learning.

Indigenous Approaches to Water Conflict Management:
the Anuak and their Approaches to Water Conflict Management

By Tsion Mesfin Woge, Ethiopia

This research paper investigates the water conflict management approaches of the Anuak indigenous people in Gambella, Ethiopia. The paper poses the question whether indigenous approaches to water conflict management provide some effective mechanisms that help to resolve conflict? If so, how? In order to provide answers to the research question, the paper will go in depth and investigate; First, how the Anuak indigenous people manage their water resources.


Second, how they resolve conflict arising from the management of shared water resources; third, how they assess the effectiveness of those water conflict management process? And, finally, using their effective indigenous methods of conflict management mechanisms, how can they address conflict arising from the expansion of large-scale agricultural investment in the Gambella Regional State?

What Lies Below: Options to Improve Sustainable Management of U.S./Mexico Transboundary Aquifers

By Christina Welch, United States of America

Christina studied three transboundary aquifers shared by two countries and three states (New Mexico/U.S., Texas/U.S., and Chihuahua/MX) within Paseo del Norte study area. This area represent an ideal microcosm to closer examine water management institutions across the local, state, national, and international scales. She assessed the United States and Mexico’s institutional capacity to manage groundwater across each scale. The problem is imminent since the Hueco Bolson transboundary aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for nearly 2 million people and the fresh water is predicted to be completely depleted between 2020-2050. The ultimate objective was to identify which future legal, scientific and economic options can best contribute to more sustainable management of transboundary aquifers without compromising water security in both countries.

Through a GIS spatial analysis and 28 interviews with water managers in the Rio Grande/Bravo basin, she found that arguably the most important future step would be to increase public awareness of the aquifer exploitation problem. Second, for water managers to accurately plan for future water demands there should be a binational groundwater model built by scientists on both sides of the border; third, joint economic investment in a groundwater desalination plant located in Ciudad Juarez; fourth, an international treaty or regional joint agreement is necessary to legally support groundwater management efforts.