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Use of decision support systems to improve dam planning and dam operation in Africa

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Land / Water / Resource Management
Type of Risk:
Biological & environmental
Logistical & infrastructural
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk assessment
Matthew McCartney, Jackie King

After a hiatus in dam investment, through the 1990s and the early part of this century, construction of large dams is increasing again. Many African governments are convinced that large dams can contribute to both attainment of the millennium development goals and broader economic development. As a result, numerous large dams are now being planned or are under construction.

Evaluating dam options and finding an appropriate balance between development needs and the need to safeguard the environment and existing livelihoods constitute a complex and difficult process. Modern decision support systems can usefully input to this process by guiding the analysis of complicated hydrological, environmental, social and economic factors associated with water allocation and assessing the impact of different, often conflicting, management options both in planning and operation of dams.

This publication highlights the constructive role that decision support systems can play in planning and operation of dams. It illustrates the importance of considering environmental and social issues in decision making so that positive benefits of large dams can be maximized and the negative impacts minimized.

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