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Community governance to conserve moor water as an adaptation measure in Ecuador

Discover how climate change and gender criteria are being integrated into Water Protection Areas (APH in Spanish) in Ecuador with the help of the Resilient Andes project guide. The guide aims to strengthen community governance and increase the climate resilience of family farming.
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Learn about community governance as an adaptation measure to conserve moor water in Ecuador (in Spanish). Credit: Helvetas Peru

This text is based on the Climate Story titled ‘Community governance to conserve water in the páramo: Quinllunga de San Simón Water Protection Area, Bolívar’ which was originally published on the Andes Resilientes website. Please access the original text for more detail.

Introduction: Water Protection Areas

Ecuador has about twenty Water Protection Areas (APH in Spanish). These areas are a direct result of the Ecological Transition policies that the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition (MAATE in Spanish) established at the national level to protect water sources for human consumption and food sovereignty, which are threatened by the effects of climate change and pollution.

“In Ecuador, the main source of water supply is the moor (paramo) ecosystem. One of the consequences of climate change could be the possible increase of temperature in this very sensitive ecosystem, which could alter its capacity to regulate water. The APHs are tools that seek to guarantee the supply of water for human consumption and irrigation for the purposes of food sovereignty”

Oscar Rojas, Vice Minister of Water of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador.

APHs need planning and implementation tools based on community management and participation of different sectors, that adjust to the needs of each local context. As part of the actions to strengthen subnational government policies, the regional project Andes Resilientes facilitated by the Helvetas-Fundación Avina consortium, and financed by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development- COSUDE, has cooperated with the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador in the design of a guide to formulate Technical Management Plans for APH that integrate climate change and gender criteria.

Based on the Technical Management Plans’ guide, a pilot was carried out with the participation of local actors from two APHs, one in Santa Elena in Cotopaxi province and the other in San Simón de Quinllunga in Bolívar province. As a result, Technical Management Plans for each APH were prepared, which include a series of specific projects and activities. Two activities in the APH of San Simón de Quinllunga in Bolívar were prioritized:

  • The Water School: consists of training for local stakeholders, Water Board members, farmers, authorities, and community leaders on issues of management and conservation of water sources.
  • The San Simón Parish Technical Water Table: a community governance mechanism that is based on the generation of social relationships between different groups in order to manage the execution of the Technical Management Plan and strengthen the APH Quinllunga.

Climate Stories

Ely Alexandra Cuvi Agualongo is part of the community of Gradas, in San Simón and is the secretary of the community’s Water Board. She says: “Climate change has affected the sowing and harvesting of products and therefore affects agriculture in the area and in the province. For example, on November 2nd we planted corn, but last year it could no longer be planted on that date because it no longer rained.”

Fifteen women between the ages of 15 and 40 participated in the Water School. “We have learned how the protection of the moor (paramo) is carried out. In the training, we saw that it is important to sow and harvest water. In a few years we are going to have problems with accessing water due to climate change, which will be highly impactful”, says Cuvi Agualongo. Learn more by watching Alexandra’s testimony (in Spanish):

For more information on the climate story “Community governance to conserve moor (paramo) water as an adaptation measure in Ecuador” access the Andes Resilientes project website.

Andes Resilientes promotes inclusive adaptation, which makes visible and meets the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable rural populations in the Andes in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, through sensitive public policies that give them access to information services, capacity building, technical assistance and financing, among others, to adapt their production practices and make them climate resilient. To achieve this, it works with the ministries of environment, agriculture and social inclusion, subnational and local governments, promoting the articulation of their actions and the improvement of their services to support the resilience and adaptation of said populations.

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