Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. W.P. Anderson


Environmental (climatic) and economic (human) influences have contributed to the problem of water scarcity in arid and semi-arid areas of the world, particularly in the less developed countries. This has impeded economic development in these regions. Thus, the call for better methodological approaches for investigating the problem from an interdisciplinary perspective and at a local scale--the "bottom-up" approach. This study investigates the nature of water use in a selected drought-inflicted village and develops an analytical framework for assessing the water demands of alternative economic development scenarios in the village. A review of hydro-climatological characteristics, land use practices, and technological development provides information on water resources availability and human activities in the region. Surveys of human activities and water use in the study village, Katarko indicate the following conditions: water scarcity, unsustainable agricultural development, and subsequent food and economic insecurity. Further investigations indicate that groundwater is the most dependable source of water. Its use is dominated by agricultural activities especially irrigation and animal rearing. These are also the most water intensive activities based on the ratio of water use to income generation. Results of the initial survey provide useful background information for the development of predictive models and water conservation strategies. A commodity-by-industry economic-ecological model (CIEEM) is developed for this purpose. Estimates of direct and total requirements of both economic and ecological commodities showed sparse sectoral interdependence within the economic system but a heavy dependence of the economy on the environment. Such dependence is more on water, a scarce commodity in this semi-arid environment. The most intensive users of water based on the direct effects include animal husbandry, building and irrigated agriculture; based on total effects are catering, building and animal husbandry, in descending order. A number of policy scenarios for local economic development and water conservation are formulated. They are derived based on our own observations in Katarko village and relevant literature for the semi-arid zone, and incorporate elements of indigenous knowledge systems and technologies (local initiatives) regarding water scarcity and drought mitigating strategies in terms of water procurement, delivery and processing, as well as national development strategies. These scenarios are simulated using the model to determine economic and environmental impacts in terms of changes in water use. An increase in production will require an increase in groundwater input while changes in the production process and water application efficiency will ensure a reduction in groundwater input and other environmental commodities. Results show that some of the production scenarios are more water intensive than others. The water conservation strategies discussed here will serve as policy options for sustainable development in this water-scarce village as well as other areas with similar economic and environmental conditions.

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