2. The river of life, making friends with water and experiencing water

Our second submodule is from the environmental monitoring group and it shows how communities use participatory methods to engage in important debates with government – and how these methods empower people and provide them with decision-making tools.

In our ‘further readings section’, we also explore the applicability of the tool ‘Emoticons’ in social sciences, as a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology tool used in qualitative research. It aims at collecting additional data on intangibles such as people’s emotions and perceptions about a particular topic. It gives an example of the use of emoticons.

Learning Objectives

  • Consider the way in which citizens engage with water concerns in their communities, sharing experiences at the grass roots level
  • Consider the meaning of water – how water affects our lives and the relationships that people have with water
  • Describe how emoticons can be used as a PAR method to capture complex issues such as people’s emotions and perceptions about a particular topic.

Key Concepts

Citizen activism, grassroots, river of life, co-learning


Video presented by the Environmental monitoring group on Water and Climate change.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  • Why is climate change seen as a social justice concern?
  • We need a vision and practical steps. What is your vision?
  • Within the context of what you have seen in the video, give some ideas of what you think is a low carbon economy?
  • Think of ways that you could work with children and ‘make friends with water’?

Key Readings

Key readings

Further Readings

Further readings

  • Padilla-Zea, N., López-Arcos, J., Gonzales Sánchez, J., Gutiérrez Vela, F. & Abad-Arranz, A. (2013). A Method to Evaluate Emotions in Educational Video Games for Children. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 10 (8) 1066-1085.
  • Krohn, Franklin B. 2004. “A Generational Approach to Using Emoticons as Nonverbal Communication.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 34 (4). SAGE Publications Inc: 321–28.
  • Goldin, J., Botha, J., Koatla, T., Anderson, J., Owen, G. & Lebese, A. (2017).  Towards an ethnography of climate change variability: perceptions and coping mechanisms of women and men from Lambani Village, Limpopo Province. Journal of Human Geography. Volume 10. Number 2.
  • Owen, G. (2016). Opportunity for Implementing Reclaimed Water for Domestic Applications in South Africa: Institutional Engagement and Public Perceptions, PhD thesis, University of the Western Cape.

Other related International Waters Lessons and Submodules

Next submodule: Visual methods, digital story telling 

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