A system dynamics model for deepening the understanding of Greater Kirkwood’s water supply system, South Africa

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Bachelor
Title A system dynamics model for deepening the understanding of Greater Kirkwood’s water supply system, South Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://repository.tudelft.nl/assets/uuid:6642f0c8-17f4-4675-9790-f593213292a5/dHont_SRVM_Modeling_do​cument_BSc_1.pdf
The provision of water and sanitation services to citizens living within the municipal boundaries
is a struggle for the Sundays River Valley Municipality (SRVM), South Africa. In this municipality,
the interrupted operation of the water distribution system has led to perceptions of systemic
social injustice that are rooted in the apartheid on the part of citizens. The municipality as local
government is responsible for supplying safe, potable water to the citizens. The Water User
Association (WUA) is responsible for delivering untreated water to the municipality. Overall,
misconceptions and lack of a common understanding of the system complexity limit the
cooperation between the stakeholders.
The choice to focus on modeling Greater Kirkwood is based on the opinions of both SRVM and
WUA, who both experienced problems with this supply system. The Sundays River Valley
community experiences social injustice, which is mainly due to unequal water supply to the
different community zones. As it appears, Kirkwood Town (zone 1) is the first to receive water
from their taps, and the last to run out of water. Lack of a common understanding of the system
complexity leads to contention between stakeholders and limits the cooperation between them.
The problem statement that describes the context of this situation is defined as:
Management and operation of the water distribution system of Greater Kirkwood, Sundays
River Valley Municipality, South Africa, comes with little understanding of the behavioral,
institutional and socio-technical complexity of the water supply system by public
There is need for an approach to start strategic conversations concerning water supply between
stakeholders in this part of rural South Africa. A system dynamics model is suitable for this
objective. The simulation model is made at the request of Jai Clifford-Holmes, a student at the
Institute for Water Research, Rhodes University, South Africa. Among other reasons, the system
dynamics approach is chosen because these models do not necessarily need detailed numerical
data to describe system behavior. The knowledge on the water supply system of Greater
Kirkwood is limited, and available information is ambiguous and contradictory.
Therefore the modeling objective of this project is defined as: To deepen the understanding of the
performance of Greater Kirkwood’s water supply system. In addition to this modeling objective,
four outcomes of interest from the model are defined to bring focus to the modeling construction
process. (a) What is the maximum capacity of the water supply system? (b) What are the limiting
factors in the water supply system? (c) Can supply disruptions be reduced? If so, how? (d) How is
system performance affected by operational management? These questions have been answered
during the modeling process.
During the model construction process and as these questions were answered, three key
dilemma’s in management and operation of the water distribution in this part of rural South
Africa have surfaced. These key dilemma’s correspond largely to the outcomes of interest that
were described before. I propose to use these dilemma’s as input for strategic stakeholder
conversations, as these reflect the main conflicts within the operation of the water supply

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