Experiential learning through role-playing: Enhancing stakeholder collaboration in water safety plans

Giuliana Ferrero*, Françoise Bichai, Maria Rusca

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Improved water safety management, as addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals, can be aided by Water Safety Planning, a risk-assessment and risk-management approach introduced by theWorld Health Organization and implemented to date in 93 countries around the globe. Yet, this approach still encounters some challenges in practice, including that of securing collaboration among the broad range of stakeholders involved. This paper presents a role-playing game designed to foster stakeholder collaboration in Water Safety Plans (WSP). In this role-play, participants take on different stakeholders' roles during a collective (team-based) decision-making process to improve water supply safety in a fictive town. The game is the result of a transdisciplinary initiative aimed at integrating knowledge across technical and governance aspects of WSPs into an active learning experience for water sector actors from diverse backgrounds. It exposes participants to the four phases of Kolb's experiential learning cycle: concrete experience, reflective observation, conceptualization and active experimentation. This paper discusses potential impacts of the WSP role-play, including skills and knowledge development among participants, which can support cross-sectoral integration and dealing with complexity in decision-making. These are capacity assets strongly needed to address water safety management challenges in a sustainable way.

Original languageEnglish
Article number227
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


  • Active learning
  • Drinking water
  • Role-play
  • Stakeholder collaboration
  • Water Safety Plan
  • Water supply


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