Officials, Technicians, Journalists and Members of the Private Sector in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala visit IUCN Projects in San Marcos

19 September 2012 | News story

Event organized as part of strategy to disseminate and replicate experiences in integrated microwatershed management and promote dialogue, in the frame of BRIDGE and the Good Water Governance for Climate Change Adaptation project.

Guatemala, August 2012 (IUCN) – In a two-day tour of the department of San Marcos in western Guatemala, participants learned about concepts and methodology IUCN is applying in the field to generate participatory planning and comprehensive community water management. This model has been developed through more than eight years of work in strategic alliances with other partners, such as the IUCN-CARE-CRS consortium and its Mi Cuenca project in this region.

Participating were officers and technicians from TNC-Mexico, the Cahoacán II project, the Coatán and Cahoacán river basin committees and a Mexican business chamber group (Cámara Patronal de Empresarios de México-COPARMEX), along with TELEVISA reporters, a representative of the Costa Rica-Panama Binational Sixaola River Basin Commission, and officials from the National Department of Agricultural Outreach, of the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food. Also attending were technicians from the Zaragoza municipal environmental management unit, who are building local capacity for the formation of the microwatershed committee of Pachoj, in the sub-watershed of the Pixcayá River, Chimaltenango.

Key aspects in this exchange of experiences were community organization and capacity-building, strategy to position the microwatershed concept at the community and local political level, lobbying and advocacy needed to establish a clear awareness in local political authorities and communities about the need for joint efforts and resources—not just for infrastructure and construction works, but also for environment and protection of natural resources and their goods and services. Strategy and efforts to achieve real integration and coordination between government agencies and nongovernmental organizations centers on the formation of a special coordination entity (Coordinadora de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente en San Marcos–CORNASAM) to visualize and tackle environmental and social problems in an integrated fashion using an inter-institutional and multisectoral approach. Information was also provided about the Ecosystem Goods and Services initiative implemented through the Participatory Water Management Fund in the municipality of San Pablo, San Marcos, with the political backing and financial support of the San Pablo Municipal Corporation.

Visitors also learned about the approach and concept behind the creation of microwatershed councils through the local development councils (Comités Comunitarios de Desarrollo Local-COCODES), as base organizations that recognize, prioritize, plan and administer projects for comprehensive and sustainable use of water and associated resources in the microwatersheds.

Mr. Juarez, engineer and current CORNSAM coordinator, spoke about the background, vision, and work philosophy of the coordination body, which promotes interinstitutional and multisectoral coordination in the Suchiate, Coatán, Naranjo and Cuilco river basins. He described the difficulties getting started, especially trying to incorporate all of the institutions and organizations that work in the zone, but as advantages he pointed to the possibility of integrating efforts under a shared vision, and what has been achieved by working together under a microwatershed-based vision.

After the tour, Manuel Morales of TNC said: “It seems to me that the methodological and conceptual process of achieving interinstitutional and multi-sector coordination through [the coordination bodies] has been essential to implement the model of participatory planning and comprehensive community water management based on microwatersheds. What is most admirable is that this coordination has not been achieved through legal mechanisms, just the sum of wills and agreements between institutions in order to be able to address and solve more complex environmental and social problems, and link and integrate efforts in a single direction and comprehensively by thinking about conserving and enhancing the green infrastructure, impacts that would not have been achieved by working alone.”

According to Manuel Galán, Operations Management of the Cahoacán river basin in Chiapas, Mexico, “The experience we’re learning about during this visit is very good, and there is no doubt that IUCN and its partners have made a great effort to obtain these results. I’m especially impressed by the high level of community participation and empowerment to manage natural resources in their microwatersheds, which will benefit both of our countries since we share the same rivers. That’s why I think we should join efforts and replicate this model in Mexico.”

At the end of the visit, most visitors agreed with the conclusion voiced by one participant: “Using a very simple and practical methodological process, local capacities have been created for comprehensive planning and microwatershed-based, community management of water resources and the involvement of the municipal governments, resulting in a work model that is simple, participatory, democratic, effective and very useful for the sustainable development of the communities and local water governance.”

For more information contact:

Carlos R. Rosal Del Cid
Regional Office
Livelihoods and Climate Change Unit
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Initiative
Tel: 00502-5966-6957 and 00502-5918-0317