power structures in water governance systems and the controversies surrounding water markets.

Environment influence diagram
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This question focuses on power structures in water governance systems and the controversies surrounding water markets. It asks you to represent the systemic dimensions of a situation and address the difficulties of ‘taking a position’.

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A.Submit* the influence diagram you constructed in web-based Activity 4.6, Task 2 (focusing on Video Set 4 – Water as a source of power). (15 marks)

i.Describe the main elements of your diagram in your own words. You do not need to describe the whole diagram. You should focus on the key parts so that the reader can then put together the whole story for themselves.

ii.Explain the process you went through in constructing your diagram.

Your answer to part (b) (parts (i) and (ii) combined) should be not more than 300 words. (10 marks)

C.Explain the following terms and how they are connected:

i.virtual water

ii.water networks

iii.water stakeholders.

Your answer to part (c) (parts (i)–(iii) combined) should be no more 350 words. (15 marks)

*You should submit your diagram electronically through the eTMA system. There are three ways you can create the electronic version of your diagram:

1.Draw it by hand then use a scanner to produce an electronic copy.

2.Draw it by hand then use a digital camera (for example on a smartphone or tablet) to produce an electronic copy.

3.Use graphics software or the drawing facilities in applications such as Word, OpenOffice or Powerpoint to create your diagram electronically.

Influence diagrams


An influence diagram shows the main structural features of an issue and the important relationships that exist among them. An influence diagram is a snapshot of a situation. Influence diagrams can be developed from systems maps by adding arrows to show influences.

You saw that system maps focus on the boundaries surrounding the main themes that describe a central issue of interest. You also saw that there may be some overlaps between systems of interest. Influence diagrams effectively only differentiate between two types of groupings: strong influences and weak influences.

Use of influence diagrams

Influence diagrams identify the factors (events) and actors (people) that have a direct influence on a central issue of interest. They also identify the type of influence that the factors and actors exert.

In more detail, influence diagrams are also used to:

Explore interrelationships, perhaps leading to re-grouping and re-definition of a system and its components.
Express a broad view of how things are interrelated in the area you are considering.

Diagram components

Title: describes the types of influence the diagram is intended to represent.
Circles of varying size.
Arrows of different size and thickness.
Words labelling circles and, if necessary, labelling arrows.

Conventions and guidelines

An influence diagram is made up of circles and arrows. The real message of this type of representation emerges from the arrows. The main steps are:

Define the system of interest with a title.
Use circles to represent components (systems and sub-systems).
Use words to label components and systems.
Select the most important influences when drawing the diagram.
Use different line thickness (or colour) to indicate different influence strengths.
Use arrows to denote capacity to influence (not sequences in time).
Use double-headed arrows only when the influence is truly reciprocal and of the same type (if it is not, use two arrows).
Use labels on arrows if the nature of the influence is not obvious from the context.

How to build an influence diagram

Once again, we will use the South African Working for Water Programme as our example.

Summary of WWP case study

[Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)


The animated book below will build an influence diagram to show the various factors and actors that influenced the formulation of the WWP. Click on the arrows to flip the pages.

Movie transcript

Representing the South African case study in an influence diagram

Drawing an influence diagram of ‘the factors and actors that led to the formulation of the WWP’ helps us to understand what really made such a programme possible.

By now, you will have grasped the idea that it was the spread of the thirsty invasive species that triggered the formulation of the WWP. However, formulating such a comprehensive programme is not easy and various actors or stakeholders (the South African government, the thousands of workers, etc.) as well as factors or events (end of apartheid, formulation of the National Water Strategy, etc.) contributed as ‘catalysts’ or ‘change agents’ to make the WWP a reality.

To construct the influence diagram, we ‘filtered’ the information to identify these various ‘positive influences’. A first reading of the case study might have highlighted the fact that, for instance, the end of apartheid had an important influence on the creation of the WWP. But what really had an effect on the WWP itself was the fact that this political turn returned a voice to all citizens (allowing various stakeholders to be involved in the WWP) and defended the principle of equity in water distribution. These two factors are closely and directly connected to the formulation of the WWP.

After a few readings, it begins to emerge that the factors and actors had different types of influences, some stronger than others, some more direct than others.

Below is a copy of the final diagram as developed in the animation.

Image description


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