A framework for water loss management in developing countries under fuzzy environment: Integration of Fuzzy AHP with Fuzzy TOPSIS

Shaher H. Zyoud*, Lorenz G. Kaufmann, Hafez Shaheen, Subhi Samhan, Daniela Fuchs-Hanusch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Facing water scarcity conditions water utilities cannot longer tolerate inefficiencies in their water systems. To guarantee sustainable water management one central task is reducing water losses from the supply systems. There are numerous challenges in managing water losses, manifested in a variety of options, their complexities, multiple evaluation criteria, inherent uncertainties and the conflicting objectives and interests of different stakeholders. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of multi criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approaches for decision support in this complex topic. The study covers identifying the key options among a set of options that have been proposed within a framework of strategies to reduce water losses in water distribution systems of developing countries. The proposed methodology was initiated by developing a hierarchical structure of the decision problem that consists of four levels: Overall objective, main criteria, evaluation criteria and options. Different stakeholders were engaged in the process of structuring and evaluating the decision problem. An integrated methodology that combines fuzzy set theory with Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) methods was then employed. This methodology has the potential to transform qualitative data into equivalent quantitative measures. Fuzzy AHP was used to create weights for main and evaluation criteria, while Fuzzy TOPSIS was used to aid the ranking of options in terms of their potential to meet the overall objective based on the evaluations and preferences of decision makers. The results showed that pressure management and control strategy was the most prevalent one, followed by employing advanced techniques and establishment of district metered areas. Their dominance was highly connected to the local and boundary conditions of the case study. The sensitivity analysis results showed that strongest and weakest options were less sensitive to changes in weights of evaluation criteria, which could be attributed to the strong consensus in strengthening the best option and neglecting the worst option. This study emphasized the successful application of MCDA in dealing with complicated issues in the context of water loss management. It is anticipated that, the integration of this developed framework in the planning policies of water utilities in developing countries can help in conducting better control over water losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-105
Number of pages20
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Decision support
  • Fuzzy set theory
  • Intermittent supply
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Water distribution systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence

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