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Can we use a social experiment to assess the impact of participatory processes for water management ? Studying a generic method tackling the evaluation of capabilities.

Abstract : The involvement of people in decision-making processes concerning the management of their natural resources has been largely promoted by institutional actors, from national to international scale. Its evaluation is important to determine its effectiveness and support governance. That is why we proposed in this thesis to develop an evaluation tool of the impacts of public participation through time on people and groups of people. To do this, we explore the use of a social experiment to perform this task, and focus on the capabilities of people, that is to say their valued freedoms of being and doing. Hence, the main research question of this thesis is the following: is it possible to use a social experiment based on a role-playing game to evaluate the impact of participatory processes for water management on its participants? We focused on three capabilities related to important states of being and action in the field of participatory decision-making for water resource management: being able as an individual to express oneself in a determined social context; being able to collectively make the diagnosis of a problematic situation; and being able to collectively make rules to manage a socio-ecosystem and implement them. We designed the CappWag experiment, a mixed-method evaluation tool based on an ad hoc role-playing game called CAPPWAG (divided in an ex ante version, CAPPWAG-RIVER, and an ex post version, CAPPWAG-LAKE), a questionnaire and a collective debriefing. We implemented the CappWag experiment on two case studies: a one-time evaluation of capabilities in Tunisia through the PR-OSCAR project, and an ex ante ex post evaluation in France with first-year Water Master’s students taking part in a course on Integrated water resource management (IWRM). The results showed that the capabilities evaluated in the twelve groups of players varied greatly in terms of existence and strength. In the Master’s case study, the evolution of the three capabilities in the three-month span of the IWRM course was just as diverse and despite our expectations, they did not always increase, and sometimes even decreased. The methodology we used to analyze the data proved to be an interesting compromise between the collection and treatment of the data and the precision of the final results delivered to researchers, but also practitioners and participants. The evaluation of a collective capability was the most difficult part of the analyses, because of the multiple group configuration that can take place during a workshop. Despite the efforts undertaken to make the evaluation tool as appealing as possible to participants and practitioners, its inclusion within participatory processes could still be improved, in order to ensure its double implementation (ex ante and ex post). The capability approach that serves as a conceptual framework in this research does presents strong assets to capture the motivations, interests and capacities of participants in terms of water resource management and collective action. In order to be even more useful to practitioners and participants, our evaluation tool would benefit from the collection and treatment of additional information concerning people’s involvement in the real-life evaluated participatory process or training and to the events and social dynamics taking place outside of the evaluation tool.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 10:49:52 AM
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Sarah Loudin. Can we use a social experiment to assess the impact of participatory processes for water management ? Studying a generic method tackling the evaluation of capabilities.. Environmental studies. Agroparistech, 2019. English. ⟨tel-02441815⟩



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