- Research project
- – Western Pacific
A number of cities worldwide, such as Cape Town, have recently experienced severe water stress situations. Many commentators have urged these cities to learn from the early 2000s Australian Millennium Drought and the country’s drought response measures. Despite Australia’s overall success, not all decisions made under crisis have been hailed by scholars, practitioners and the community alike.
To inform the global debate on water stress under climate change, crisis management and decision making under uncertainty, this study used two specific water infrastructure projects in Australia—launched during the Millennium Drought and widely perceived as unsuccessful—as case studies to empirically investigate how decision making was undertaken in practice. These include the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, in South East Queensland, and the Desalination Plant in Victoria. Both projects were large-scale water infrastructure projects, which raised concerns in the community, strongly questioning their pertinence.
The research used the knowledge of water professionals via interviews, as well as a desktop study of policy and planning documents, to draw a situational analysis of both projects. This analysis highlighted flaws in the decision-making process. These include fragmented institutional settings, strong political influence on the projects, a predictive approach to dealing with uncertainty, and unpreparedness for crisis.
Caball R., Malekpour, S. “Decision making under crisis: Lessons from the Millennium Drought in Australia”, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, online 17 December 2018
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