Climate Change

Andes: Technical cooperation project (TCP/RLA/3112/3217) 2008-2010.

The aim of the project was to systematize efforts made by communities located in the tropical Andes to cope with climate change and disaster risk reduction. 

The project supported local, regional and national decision makers by analyzing the linkages between national and international strategies for climate change adaptation and the community based coping strategies already in place in selected communities throughout the tropical Andes in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

I.                        Background

The tropical Andes run from northern Colombia to southern Peru, and are of strategic importance for the environmental stability of South America. Watersheds in South America coincide at least partly with the tropical Andes and flow west to the Pacific Ocean, providing water for cities such as Lima, Quito and Guayaquil, but also east to the Atlantic Ocean, by way of the Amazon and La Plata River basins. The hydrological stability of most of the continent depends on services provided by micro-ecosystems found around and above 4000 Meters. Significant threats are already apparent including droughts, floods, growing pressure on water quality, loss of wetlands, and the impact of these losses on floodplains and estuaries. These threats must therefore be addressed with a regional approach and by strengthening institutions that facilitate water governance at local and government level.  

II.                        Disaster Risk Management: Conclusions  

  • Social capital to strengthen the pre-emergency phases. The consolidation of social capital should be addressed during phases of relative stability around production activities.
  • Traditional community based practices such as the construction of terraces, are well adapted to the conservation of soil organic content and water retention. The local knowledge of conservation practices and the resilience of some crops and livestock products should be valued and included in the development of modern institutions.
  • The creation of synergy between producer organizations and local government institutions is a fundamental element providing the link between local governments and civil society organizations.
  • Small Andean farmers face difficulties in accessing markets due to: (a) the competition faced by large-scale producers (both domestic and foreign) who are able to produce basic foodstuffs at lower costs, and (b) the increasing dissemination of supermarkets, which offer products at low prices. There are, however, some niche markets for products such as camels, quinoa, potatoes, native and local crafts in which small farmers still exhibit comparative advantages.
  • The generation of new revenue opportunities with competitive salaries is critical and could even encourage those who have emigrated to return.
  • Water management schemes are developed in particular local contexts and are subject to the conflicting interests of multiple stakeholders.
  • Basin Management institutions require the design of localized real solutions to specific existing problems of local communities face. Depending on local conditions, issues such as food security, job generation and income sources for the adoption of sustainable production practices, should receive priority over other potential conservation strategies.
  • Transparency and inclusion are the two most important prerequisites for building sustainable institutions for watershed management. Participatory management is a prerequisite for social sustainability.