Through the Water Rights Project, implemented by Agua Sustentable (2005 - 2007), a set of studies and assessments were elaborated on water rights and possible environmental impacts caused by diversions and mining pollution. These studies showed that the main impacts were present in domestic and agricultural water in Desaguadero area; however, the impact is greater in the wetlands of Mauri area, where agriculture is the main activity (Agua Sustentable 2013).
In this regard, in 2009 the Borderline basins study-project started to promote a consultation process about water social management in the basin, involving Bolivia and Peru. Result of this initiative, the Board of Desaguadero and Mauri Basins Water Users was formed.
Agua Sustentable proposes to conduct a research to identify the best adaptation measures to climate change in Mauri - Desaguadero basin, based on a socio-economic analysis and development of a strategy to have more efficient public investment plans in municipalities, departments and at national level, strengthening the management structure of public institutions, promoting the participatory development of adaptation strategies with local actors, men, women and youth, with joint actions and interagency partnerships.
The climate change adaptation plan is one of the main results of this project; such document enhances planning to address weather variability and extreme climate change.
Planning shall include policy guidelines and adaptation measures to reduce vulnerability of surrounding communities.
The mapping of rights is being done to get to know about water management local traditions; thus, determine local actions for climate change adaptation and proposals elaboration.
Considering the local analysis, the study will promote the appropriate planning and management of public investment for adaptation actions.
Historical and future weather information will be compared to the basin’s hydrological process; thus, appreciate weather variability and climate change influence; also to see how traditions, rights, water management actions and communities’ production activities are affected.
Local players’ applied, collaborative and participative work is essential; valuable traditional and ancestral knowledge is fed into our study and used together with the new manners of water management (knowledge management and recovery).
It is important to have the participation of men and women as well as the presence of youngsters.
The project’s methodological approach is based on a sequential and simultaneous flow of actions, integrated into three areas: 1) Research, 2) Discussion public-social spaces and advocacy and 3) Planning and investments for adaptation.
Expected results are: “communities from the area have strategic guidelines for climate change and weather variability adaptation, where municipal governments include such guidelines into their planning and La Paz and Oruro departmental governments consider community proposals into their strategic planning”.
Under the project, different strategic alliances are being created with La Paz and Oruro Departmental Governments; also, inter-institutional networks are being promoted with State bodies, such as, the Meteorological and Hydrology National Service (SENAMHI), Basin´s National Program and Civil Society (Board of Desaguadero and Mauri Basins Water Users – DICUADEMA). At bi-national level, links are being created with Lake Titicaca Hydro System Bi-national Authority (ALT).
As for Universities, we have the participation of the Hydraulics and Hydrology Institute (IHH - UMSA), National Herbarium of Bolivia, Institute for Agricultural Research and Natural Resources (IIAREN - UMSA), Bolivian Catholic University (UCB), Technical University of Oruro (UTO), Peru´s Plateau National University (UNA) and Rheinische Friedrich - Wilhelms Universitat Bonn Germany and Research Institute for development - France (IRD).
Principal findings: project year 1 (2012 - 2013)
o Hydrological Information: Information at hand about Mauri - Desaguadero basin (1990 – 2012) together with a historical database about basin levels and water flow in eight Bolivian stations and four Peruvian stations (1965 – 2012).
o Mapping of rights: Updating of mapping data considering water demand and rights (2006 – 2010); this will allow projecting trends related to environmental, social, economic and/or climate changes; also, mapping of domestic water use rights and wetlands access rights.
o Wetlands Component: Characterization and classification of wetlands based on plant species composition and temporal and seasonal evolution comparison: 1986-1990, 2007 and current.
o Generation of maps for vulnerability assessment: Considering exposure, sensitivity and adaptability capacity, different maps were elaborated to determine the degree of vulnerability.
o Ancestral knowledge and technologies: Local techniques were collected to provide an answer and replicate them within the Mauri and Desaguadero basin context: taqanas or agricultural terraces, quillas, sokakollu, tarasukas, q’ochas, q’otas, q’otañas, canapas, drainage systems and others.
o Awareness Raising: A group of communities and municipalities are informed about the community adaptation action plan, while others had access to such information through rural fairs.
o Local Strengthening: Leaders were identified to have climate change adaptation promoters; likewise, the Basin Board, Institutions and Users Associations are strengthened.
o Identification and prioritization of mid-size projects: This is done as part of the plan, for example, in Rivera community – PapelPampa Municipality – an assessment of the irrigation system is being carried out as well as the design of a resources leverage system to stabilize the catchment of Desaguadero River waters.