Methodology for time analysis to evaluate water scarcity according to demand and ofert. Case Study: the countries in the Guinea Gulf

Author: Beatriz Escribano Rodriguez de Robes. July 2010

Director: Josep Xercavins
Department: Catedra UNESCO Sustainability
Date: 14 July 2010 

This thesis describes a methodology for dynamic analysis over time that makes it possible to continually re-assess fresh-water scarcity as a function of supply and demand. The methodology takes into account variations in the driving factors, including, most importantly, human-development needs. The methodology can be controlled operationally. Changes in the variables that determine the dynamic fresh-water supply and demand can be entered quickly and easily.

Our methodological proposal contains several key points. We begin with a discussion of terminology and concepts. Taking the current state of the art as our starting point, as a fundamental first step in our methodology we define the concepts of dynamic renewable fresh-water supply and demand. We then present a glossary of the terms and concepts used in this thesis.

Following the characterisation of dynamic supply and demand, we analyse the "business-as-usual" scenario. We point out the seriousness of the situation in the nine Gulf of Guinea countries. The fundamental reason for this situation is the non-existence or non-implementation of policies aimed at extracting, distributing and supplying fresh water, due to a lack of economic resources or political will. The second step in our methodology is to corroborate the usual description of the situation in these countries, particularly in terms of the economic scarcity that characterises them. To properly complete this stage of the methodology, it has been necessary to find a solution to the inadequacy of the data available in most developing countries.

Our proposal works with reality, which involves detecting disadvantages and limitations when applying the methodology in the countries of this particular region. One such limitation, clearly, is the lack of the necessary data for constructing the scenarios, determining the standards and creating the new index; as these circumstances have arisen, we have implemented methodological solutions that have enabled us to estimate new data on the basis of correlations and/or extrapolations of existing data.

The next key point is also one of the main contributions of this methodological proposal. We set the goal of achieving certain standards of fresh-water demand based on acceptable levels of welfare and quality of life. Then, by constructing and analysing the corresponding future scenarios, we re-examine the real possibilities and weaknesses of each country as relates to the scarcity of fresh water.

The last key point of our proposal is the generation of an index that enables us to evaluate, quickly and synthetically, the situation of a particular country or region on the basis of its capacity to satisfy fresh-water demand in a way that meets a clearly and specifically defined standard. This index enables the early detection of possible problems that go beyond physical or economic scarcity. Like the representation and analysis of the results of the various future scenarios, this early-warning system will enable decisions to be made in accordance with the established goals.

The support tool used to generate the representations of the scenarios must have good graphic-design resolution, be able to make the calculations necessary for analysing the scenarios, and store the information in a practical way that allows changes to be entered easily.

This methodology is meant to be used by politicians, engineers, scholars and researchers as a useful and objective support tool for decision-making and/or visualising levels of fresh-water scarcity as part of larger efforts to achieve the goal of sustainable human development. 

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