The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 12, Number 2, 2013

ISSN 1602-2297


Villagers’ Perceptions of Water Crises and
the Influencing Factors of Local Perceptions:
A Case Study in the Shiyangriver Basin, Northwest China


Haiyan Yu
Affiliation: School of Geography and the Environment, South park road, OX1 3QY, Oxford University, Oxfordshire, UK, E-mail: haiyan.yu@ouce.ox.ac.uk

Anna Lora-Wainwright
Affiliation: School of Geography and the Environment, South park road, OX1 3QY, Oxford University, Oxfordshire, UK

Mike Edmunds
Affiliation: School of Geography and the Environment, South park road, OX1 3QY, Oxford University, Oxfordshire, UK

Dave Thomas
Affiliation: School of Geography and the Environment, South park road, OX1 3QY, Oxford University, Oxfordshire, UK


Abstract: The integration of people’s perceptions concerning water into policy and planning is essential for successful water resources management, however little is known about this topic. To redress this problem, interviews were undertaken with a total of 119 villagers in two different villages in the upper and lower reaches of the Shiyang River Basin, northwest China employing qualitative and quantitative research methods. This paper demonstrates a deeper and clearer understanding of local people’s perceptions of water crises and their causes in arid and semi-arid regions. Results demonstrate that: (1) while most villagers are aware of local water crises, they are uncertain of the causes; (2) perceptions of local water crises are considerably heterogeneous both between the two villages and among different villagers (3) villagers’ perceptions of different aspects of water crises including water access, control and affordability are affected by diverse factors in very different ways. Personal experiences together with physical, social-political and economic factors (locationR2=0.591, P=0.000; land area R2=-0.327, P=0.01; income levels R2=-0.26, P=0.01) have a more significant influence on villagers’ water perceptions than ordinary demographic attributes. (4) Most of all, water crises are locally and socially constructed rather than physically determined. The conclusions are invaluable for water researchers and decision makers to better understand and solve water crises in more localized and effective ways.. .

Keywords: Villagers’ water perceptions; personal experiences; socio-political factors; water crises; transdisciplinary water research; Shiyang River Basin; Northwest China

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