Participants : Erica Dorr, Sidgy Mustafa, Victor Moinard, Sunny Kumar

Case introduction

The case study is interesting because Uganda has complex issues. It was interesting to read and synthesize all the documents. The papers and links were useful to understand the circumstances in Uganda. The main issues are population pressure and managing limited resources, including water, food, and funds. Other subjects of conflict are timber and forest management, pollution, and biodiversity conservation, which all affect the profitable tourism sector. Small businesses contribute to many of these issues, but primarily pollution. Uganda is also undergoing a period of industrialization that causes pollution. All of these factors interact among one another and between human stakeholders.

Participatory mapping

First we identified all of the resources and actors, and found links between each. The actors were the private sector, government, local population, NGOs and surrounding countries. The resources were funds, water, food, raw materials, biodiversity, soil fertility, industrialization, energy, social stability, tourism, and pollution. We linked them with each actor in terms of consumption, control or production. We didn’t receive feedback on this, which could have been useful to make sure we were on the right track. This step was interesting because it obliged us to synthesize all of the information we found in the articles, which would have otherwise been overwhelming. One drawback of this methodology is that we lost some of the details when synthesizing resources and interactions, especially complex social details.

Sharing exercise: Just-a-grid activity

We examined two resources that can be shared, water and timber. We considered timber because its production is related to biodiversity loss from deforestation, and can be used a proxy for energy in Uganda. The actors we considered were local population, NGOs, government and the private sector. We broke out individually and each took the perspective of one actor and decided our desired allocation of resources in a way that would accurately represent the actors’ interests. We succeeded in coming to a consensus about how to allocate resources. The NGO was the loser because their ideal allocation was the farthest from the final agreement, and the government was the winner. To come to our agreement, we first considered all of the resources whose allocation we agreed on, and then looked at the remaining resources and negotiated their allocation. It was interesting to see that other groups didn’t negotiate the same way as us, and we learned that there are different strategies available. It was a useful activity because we could put ourselves in the shoes of an actor and see what resources they would be interested in and to advocate for. We usually work collaboratively from the start, so this was interesting to first think about our desires, and then conciliate them with others. It showed the complexity of negotiations, and showed the different visions of all three groups of students. We found this activity one of the most interesting and enjoyable.

Test the game INI-WAG water game

We tried the game INI-WAG in this activity. This game was essential for understanding how role-playing games and models can be used in negotiations, which was necessary for making our own model later. It explained how to create and build our model for the case study of Uganda, and how to create rules and visually represent complex interactions. It also showed how impacts of decisions made in negotiations could impact people in everyday lives, such as how polluters upstream can destroy the livelihoods of people living downstream. We liked this game because it was well constructed and we could experience the tension of the interactions. However, we didn’t have enough time to play and really understand the implications of each action, because there were many complicated rules. However, it did succeed in its role of giving us an example of a model for negotiations.

Design by playing: making our own model

We tried to make a model to manage and plan resource allocation of Uganda to address rising population pressures. We tried to allocate resources so that all actors could have some share in accordance with their needs. The resources we used were water and timber, which were purchased with a unit of funds, access or biodiversity. Each player of the game was a type of stakeholder that we identified in the Uganda case study, and the land types that resources could be allocated to were crop fields, cities or forests/wetlands. During their turn, each actor chose to allocate some resources to the land type that they would advocate based on the type of product that was the output of the land. Moving resources (3 water and one timber) into the fields created one unit of food, moving 2 timber and 2 water to the forest created one unit of biodiversity which fuels tourism, and in the cities 3 units of timber and one unit of water created one unit of product in the private sector or urban development. In our game timber was a proxy for energy, forested land and potential for building and use as a raw material. The actors earn money differentially based on which product was their primary interest. For example, the NGOs profited only from the forest, and the government profited equally from all land types. This game gave us a vision of the problem, but was hard to encompass the complexities in one game. After playing, we realized we omitted some important nuances in the real case study, such as social issues and pollution.  

Testing our model

Other people who played our game found it interesting to experience the tensions of the actors. If we had more time to play it would have been more enlightening. We found that it was more realistic to dramatically limit the resources available because it made the game more competitive, which was more representative because in the preliminary rounds every actor profited and ended with plenty of product. The model was simple and ideal, and there was a unidirectional flow, as in there were no losses to any actor. We also tried everyone else’s models and found that we didn’t have enough time to really understand their case studies. It was useful to show the main actors and main issues, but we missed the interactions because we didn’t have enough time to play.


Planning and strategy for Uganda

Our strategy for managing some of Uganda’s biggest problems is based on 4 points. First, population pressure can be addressed by increasing public awareness of how this pressure negatively impacts ecosystems. Also, migration from surrounding countries adds to the population pressure, so controlling the borders with surrounding countries with conflict would help, along with diplomacy to try and mediate the conflicts driving migration. We could also control the birth rate, which is especially high in Uganda. The most feasible solution here is increasing public awareness.

Our next strategy point addresses pollution. We can address this through improving the quality of industrialization to reduce its pollution. This could be done by focusing on the HSE sectors (health, safety and environment). We could also reduce pollution from agriculture by urging farmers to avoid applying pesticides during the rainy season. Emerging cities could install sewage systems equipped with water treatment centers. Many options are limited here because of a lack of government influence, funds and policy initiatives.

The third point of strategy is improving yields in agriculture. Investments should be made in technology, which is currently lacking in Uganda. Irrigation systems could be an interesting option, but we are not sure how successful they would be because Uganda is a mountainous country. Again, these options would need funds and intervention from the government, so their feasibility is limited.

Finally, the environment should be conserved in order to support the tourism sector. Deforestation should be reduced and biodiversity should be prioritized. Land control needs to be organized because farms in the forest are plagued by wild animals, which should be protected but rather are killed by farmers trying to protect their crops. Other environmental assets of Uganda are the wetlands, lakes and rivers, which need to be regulated because currently people are exploiting water resources. Pollution in these watersheds can be mitigated by installing riparian borders with trees along the banks of lakes and rivers, which also offer profit from wood harvesting and bee keeping and can reduce erosion. We think that all of these options are feasible because some options are already in use and they don’t need as much funding as options in the other points.

It would have been helpful to receive feedback on this part in class to know how realistic our strategies are in the case study, because we are not experts on the topic. Some members of the group think that the game helped us to make these solutions because it put us in the perspective of real actors who struggle to find these solutions. Others thought that the game was useful in general but not for making strategies, rather the papers and links provided us with information. The negotiations in the game helped us to understand the actors and be in the skin of the actors to be able to propose solutions. On the other hand, we simplified the problem in the model, so making realistic solutions later was harder.

Anonymous feedbacks

 This game provided a nice and clear visual representation of the situation in Uganda. The rules were simple to understand to we could start playing and learning quickly. However too many resources were available from the beginning so there wasn't much competition between the players. In the end, everyone profited, although some made more money than  others. 
 The game was found interesting and very easy to play, with good resource allocation. but the thing i found negative was there is less pressure between the actors. because at the end of the game there is no any looser, every player won. this could be as a result of too much allocation of money at the beginning of the game which resulted to less competitions between the actors. 
 The game was fun to play and it was easy to understand the goal  and interests of each actors. The processes were simplified but well modelled.

I found interesting to introduce the money as a driver for resources allocation and as a key element of the game.

The only negative critics that I have is that it was maybe a little bit to easy because at the end of our round everybody had won money. It was maybe just a matter of enhancing the difference of money that each player received at the beginning of the game or of increasing the resource scarcity.
It could have been interesting to introduce the possibility to discuss and negotiate with other player to buy more resources through partnership or corruption etc.

 Very easy to play too. Very well equilibrated between the different players, maybe even too much equilibrated: there was no real tension between the teams, no real fight for the resources. The game could be improved by allocating a random amount of resources at each round.
 game (as the facilitator):

The model seemed to work quite well to present the different actors and the sources of tension, especially because the goal of actors are differentiated. Some improvement have been found on the gameplay while talking with the player, by reducing the amount of available resources.

That led to more tension in the game, that's to say more fun, and a better understanding of the problem.

 It was fun playing this game.

The rules were in general well explained. I just didn't clearly understand the main goal of the game before playing: maximisation of profit for each stakeholder.

We played 2 rounds, which was too short to develop a strategy.

I personally found that the distribution of money at the beginning of the game could have been better modelled. (Private sector was maybe not having enough money in comparison with other actors)

Then we didn't discuss between actors at the beginning of the game, which could have been the case: No negotiation has been made.