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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  08 Sep 2020

08 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Multi-level storylines for participatory sociohydrological modelling – involving marginalized communities in Tz'olöj Ya', Mayan Guatemala

Jessica A. Bou Nassar1, Julien J. Malard1, Jan F. Adamowski1, Marco Ramírez Ramírez2, Wietske Medema1, and Héctor Tuy2 Jessica A. Bou Nassar et al.
  • 1Dept. Bioresource Engineering, McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, H9X 3V9, Canada
  • 2IARNA, Universidad Rafael Landívar, Vista Hermosa III, Campus Central, Zona 16, Edificio Q, Oficina Q-101, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Abstract. New and unconventional sources of data that enhance our understanding of internal interactions between socio-economic and hydrological processes are central to sociohydrological modelling. Participatory modelling (PM) departs from conventional modelling tools by informing and conceptualizing sociohydrological models through stakeholder engagement. However, the implementation of most PM processes remains biased, particularly in regions where marginalized communities are present. Most PM processes are not cognizant of differentiation and diversity within a society and tend to treat communities as homogeneous units with similar capabilities, needs, and interests. This undifferentiation leads to the exclusion of key actors, many of whom are associated with marginalized communities. In this study, a participatory model-building framework (PMBF), aiming to ensure the inclusiveness of marginalized stakeholders – who (1) have low literacy, (2) are comparatively powerless, and/or (3) are associated with a minoritized language – in participatory sociohydrological modelling is proposed. The adopted approach employs interdisciplinary storylines to inform and conceptualize system dynamics-based sociohydrological models. The suggested method is underpinned by the Multi-level Perspective (MLP) framework, which was developed by Geels et al. (2002) to conceptualize socio-technical transitions and modified in this study to accommodate the development of interdisciplinary storylines. A case study was conducted in Atitlán Basin, Guatemala, to understand the relationships that govern the lake's cultural eutrophication problem. This research integrated key stakeholders from the indigenous Mayan community, associated with diverse literacy ranges, and emerging from three different minoritized linguistic backgrounds (Kaqchikel, Tz'utujil, and K'iche'), in the PM activity. The proposed approach facilitated the effective participation of marginalized stakeholders. Moreover, it (1) helped develop an understanding of mechanisms governing the eutrophication of the lake, (2) initiated collaborations between Indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders, and (3) extracted potential solutions targeting the system’s leverage points. The participatory model-building activity generated three submodules: (1) agriculture, (2) tourism, and (3) environmental awareness. Each submodule contained socioculturally specific mechanisms associated with nutrient discharge to Lake Atitlán. The delineation of such nuanced relationships helps develop well-targeted policies and best management practices. Additionally, the suggested process helped decrease the impact of power imbalances in water resources management and empower community-based decision-making.

Jessica A. Bou Nassar et al.

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Jessica A. Bou Nassar et al.

Jessica A. Bou Nassar et al.


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Short summary
Our research suggests a method that facilitates the inclusion of marginalized stakeholders in model-building activities to address problems in water resources. Our case-study showed that knowledge produced by typically excluded stakeholders had significant and unique contributions to the outcome of the process. Moreover, our method facilitated the identification of relationships between societal, economic, and hydrological factors, and fostered collaborations across different communities.
Our research suggests a method that facilitates the inclusion of marginalized stakeholders in...