In this paper, a new methodology for the analysis and assessment of water supply regimes is presented. The problems of water supply management in developing countries are multidimensional and interdependent. Conventional methods, which only deal with separated and isolated issues, are not appropriate to deal with these problems. The method presented here, however, can comprehend the whole system. Therefore, using this method, conclusions for the management of adapted institutional and technological transformations can be drawn. In this study, relevant system variables of a problem context are identified, and their interdependencies are assessed and interpreted. This is done by using a method of qualitative interview analysis (grounded theory) and a cybernetic modelling approach (sensitivity analysis). In doing so, it is possible to identify outstanding variables which are essential to understand the system. These variables reveal the weakest links, driving forces, systemic stabilisers and the sustainability indicators of the system. The case study area is the Cuvelai-Etosha-Basin in central northern Namibia where a large-scale water supply system has been established. The water supply in the region is determined by the dependence on external water resources, high precipitation variability, absence of perennial rivers, saline groundwater, population growth and urbanisation.

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