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Home > Basin > Mekong > Companion modeling for resilient water management (PN25)

Full Project Title: Companion modeling for resilient water management: Stakeholders’ perceptions of water dynamics and collective learning at the catchment scale (PN25)


Water management problems in the Mekong River Basin and the Himalayan highlands are complex given the rapidly changing, constrained and uncertain realities along with competition over water among different stakeholders using their own interests, strategies, water-use practices, and perceptions.

Collective decision-making processes through mediation and negotiation needs to reconcile ecological and social dynamics, improve communication, collective learning, coordination mechanisms, and stakeholders’ capacity for adaptive management and collective action.

PN25 examined the following key questions: how to model different stakeholders’ perceptions of a common water management problem? How to integrate indigenous & science-based knowledge to create a common representation of the system to be managed collectively? How to use models in multi-stakeholder decision-making processes to improve their capacity for adaptive management of water at the catchment scale?

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • A common Companion modeling (ComMod) collaborative modeling and simulation approach was adopted and a methodological framework developed among partners and applied at nine different sites in three countries (Vietnam, Thailand and Bhutan) distributed in the main and contrasted agro-ecological zones and socio-cultural contexts of the basin to examine diverse water management problems leading to a variety of key outcomes.
  • The main effects of ComMod activities are improved communication, knowledge acquisition and exchange, changes in own and others perceptions, behavior, decision-making and practices, engagement and community mobilization, and creative design of local institutions (rules and regulations, or representative organizations depending on the sites).
  • The comparison of the ComMod processes in three different countries showed that this collaborative modeling approach leads to stronger impacts when a supporting community-based resource management policy is already in place. The findings revealed that the management of social inequity, power relations and linkages with institutions at higher levels of organization are crucial, especially for up-scaling participatory modeling and simulation processes.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • PN25 led to improved communication and trust among multiple stakeholders through collective learning facilitated by interactive simulations as well as raised the capacity of local stakeholders and strengthened or created local institutions to tackle common resource management issues in diverse contexts.
  • The implementation of the companion modeling approach in PN25 contributed to the mediation of water use conflicts through the design and use of families of models with stakeholders.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN25 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

  1. Barnaud C., A. van Paassen, G. Trébuil, T. Promburom, and F. Bousquet. 2010. Dealing with power games in a companion modelling process: Lessons from community water management in thailand highlands. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 16(1): 55 – 74.
  2. Barnaud C., F. Bousquet, and G. Trébuil. 2007. Multi-agent simulations to explore rules for rural credit in a highland farming community of Northern Thailand. Ecological Economics 66(4): 615-627.
  3. Barnaud C., G. Trébuil, P. Dumrongrojwatthana, and J. Marie. 2008. Area study prior to companion modelling to integrate multiple interests in upper watershed management of northern Thailand. Southeast Asian Studies 45(4). 559-585.
  4. Barnaud C., G. Trébuil, P. Promburom, and F. Bousquet. 2008. La modélisation d’accompagnement pour une gestion concertée des ressources renouvelables en Thaïlande (Companion modelling for concerted management of renewable resources in Thailand). Economie Rurale (303-305): 39-59.
  5. Bousquet F., J. C. Castella, G. Trébuil, C. Barnaud, S. Boissau, and S.P. Kam. 2007. The use of multi-agent systems in a companion modeling approach for agroecosystem management in Southeast Asia. Outlook on Agriculture 36(1): 57-62.
  6. Dumrongrojwatthana, P., Le Page, C., Gajaseni, N., and Trébuil, G., forthcoming. Coconstructing an agent-based model to mediate land use conflict between herders and foresters in northern Thailand. Journal of Land Use Science.
  7. Dung L. C., C. T. Hoanh, C. Le Page, F. Bousquet, and N. Gajaseni. 2009. Facilitating dialogue between aquaculture and agriculture: lessons from role-playing games with farmers in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Water Policy 11(S1): 80–93.
  8. Gurung, T.R., F. Bousquet, and G. Trébuil. 2006. Companion modeling, conflict resolution, and institution building: Sharing irrigation water in the Lingmuteychu watershed, Bhutan. Ecology and Society 11(2): 36.
  9. Naivinit, W., C. Le Page, G. Trébuil., and N. Gajaseni. 2010. Participatory agent-based modeling and simulation of rice production and labor migrations in Northeast Thailand. Environmental Modelling and Software 25(11): 1345-1358.
  10. Robinson D.T., D.G. Brown, D.C. Parker, et al. 2007. Comparison of empirical methods for building agent-based models in land use science. Journal of Land Use Science 2(1): 31-55. m=titlelink.
  11. Ruankaew N., C. Le Page, P. Dumrongrojwatthana, C. Barnaud, N. Gajaseni, A. van Paassen, and G. Trébuil. 2010. Companion modeling for integrated renewable resource management: A new collaborative approach to create common values for sustainable development. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 17(1): 15-23.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.