Guatemala NCAP Project: Integrating Climate Change into Water Management Polices
The impression of Guatemala as viewed from space is that it, along with its neighbors in Central America, is relatively green and verdant. This view does not conjure up the immediate image of water as a constraining factor in livelihood generating activities pursued by the population. This perspective, however, does not reveal the extent to which Guatemala is dependent on a natural resource based economy, and in particular the agricultural and forest management activities in which a significant proportion of the population is engaged.
The productivity of these activities and their potential to support, and even enhance, the livelihoods of a largely rural population are dependent on climate and the associated hydrological response. Although it is a relatively small country, with a surface area of 108,890km2, the geography of Guatemala creates strong spatial variations in climate across the national territory, to which local resource based economic activities are attuned. Production systems and livelihood generating activities can vary across very small distances, many of which are exposed to climate related risks. In addition, many of these risks, such as flooding, are exacerbated by heavy exploitation of the land base. Thus, Guatemala is an appropriate venue for studying the threat to sustainable water management posed by climate change and possible adaptation options.
Specifically, the goal of the NCAP activities was to investigate whether proposed adaptation strategies could be integrated into ongoing water management policy settings and decision making processes in Guatemala.
National Climate Change Programme (PNCC)
The PNCC is a program within the Environment Ministry of Guatemala, and was created in part to coincide with the preparation of the 1st National Communication under the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The PNCC is charged with assessing the risks of climate change in Guatemala and recommending steps the government can take to reduce the country’s vulnerability to these risks. Soon after its creation, the PNCC played a central role in preparing Guatemala’s 1st National Communication, which concluded that the country is vulnerable to both current climatic variability and anticipated climate change. The communication also identified what were perceived to be the most vulnerable sectors, which included: public health; forest resources; cereal production; and water resources.
Following the publication of the 1st National Communication, the PNCC made an early decision to focus much of its energy and resources on better understanding the link between climate change and water resources
As part of this effort, the PNCC participated in a previous project funded by the United Nations Development Program, Fomento de las Capacidades para la Adaptación al Cambio Climático en Centro América, México y Cuba (Building Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation in Central America, Mexico, and Cuba). Based on activity undertaken as part of that project, the PNCC produced a report entitled Síntesis de Vulnerabilidad Futura, Propuesta de Medidas de Adaptación y Estrategia de Adaptación al Cambio Climatico (Synthesis of Future Vulnerability, Proposal of Adaptation Measures, and Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation) which included a long list of potential water management adaptation strategies. These strategies were divided into five categories: flood prevention; flood management; flood rehabilitation; drought management; and drought rehabilitation. This list of possible adaptations served as a starting point for the activities pursued under the NCAP project.
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