Four Microwatershed Management Plans Delivered to Municipalities, Communities and Institutions, Baja Verapaz

20 September 2012 | News story

Four Microwatershed Management Plans Delivered to Municipalities, Communities and Institutions, Baja Verapaz

Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, July 2012 (IUCN) – At an event attended by the municipal council of Cubulco, the Cubulco municipal development council (Consejo Municipal de Desarrollo–COMUDE), community leaders and institutional representatives, four management plans were officially presented on microwatersheds of the Canchel, El Xum, Chibalam rivers (Cubulco municipality) and San Rafael river (Rabinal). Their participatory preparation included input from the community development councils (Consejos Comunitarios de Desarrollo–COCODE), auxiliary community mayoral offices, coffee grower associations, agricultural and health promoters and other organized community groups.

These microwatersheds are all in the Guatemalan department of Baja Verapaz and located within the “Dry Corridor,” a semi-arid strip of land with recurring periods of drought even in the rainy season, degraded soils and low yields, and where families usually plant on hillsides. Most of the region’s land has been deteriorated by localized degradation, water scarcity and erratic rains, causing many crops to suffer pests and plagues.

The Dry Corridor spans the departments of El Quiché, Baja Verapaz, Chiquimula, Zacapa, El Progreso, Jutiapa and Jalapa. Some 300,000 families, or 18.7% of the nation’s residents, live on its eastern side. Seventy percent of the population is rural, with an identical rate of poverty.

Preparation of the plans began with the identification and delimitation of the microwatersheds. After awareness-raising, organizational structures called microwatershed councils were formed to enable participation by all stakeholders, including COCODES, community mayors’ offices, associations, cooperatives, trade associations, water commissions and other organized groups. A traditional-style board of directors integrates representation of all the communities in the microwatershed.

With technical accompaniment by IUCN, several workshops were held with municipal authorities, institutional representatives and the respective microwatershed councils to identify problems and potentialities. Projects were defined and prioritized in the areas of essential services (e.g., drinking water, irrigation, new or improved roads), environment (soil conservation, reforestation, and agroforestry nurseries), income generation (coffee production, greenhouse-grown vegetables) and food security (domestic gardens, corn and bean production).

The management plans were prepared using the Sustainable Livelihoods approach, an analytical tool that facilitates understanding of these livelihoods, especially of the least privileged populations. The approach also uses different categories of community capital: human, social, political, cultural, natural, financial and constructed. The inclusion of these aspects allowed for comprehensive planning.

Alongside this process, three dimensional models (maquettes) were constructed of each microwatershed to raise awareness about what a microwatershed is, place it within the territory and illustrate connectivity in all of the different parts of the microwatershed.

Cubulco mayor Nehemías Jared Matheu García was pleased about the plans received and expressed his interest in seeking funds for their implementation from government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and international cooperation.

The management plans are instruments the microwatershed councils use to guide their actions and make decisions toward comprehensive development based on natural resource management and environmental conservation, for the wellbeing of the microwatershed’s entire population.

For more information contact:

Ottoniel Rivera Mazariegos
Technical Officer
IUCM Livelihoods and Climate Change Unit for San Marcos, Guatemala
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Initiative
Tel: 00502-5966-6957 and 00502-5918-0317