Mankaqchikel Associated Municipalities and ACAX, with support from IUCN and AVINA, learn about San Marcos Natural Resources and Environment Coordination Body (CORNASAM) work

30 November 2011 | News story

The visit to the San Marcos area, in Guatemala, is part of the process to strengthen social organization, create local capacities, promote interinstitutional coordination, form a microwatershed committee and prepare a strategic plan for the Tzancán microwatershed in the subwatershed of the Xayá River, in Chimaltenango.

Guatemala, November 2011 (IUCN) – With the support of the Embassy of Holland and the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI II), members of the Mankaqchikel Associated Municipalities, Asociación ACAX, local community development committees in Tecpán, the mayor-elect of Zaragoza and municipal officials of Tecpán, Chimaltenango, visited the IUCN Tacaná II project area to learn about the methodological and conceptual process involved in achieving interinstitutional and multisectoral coordination through the Natural Resource and Environment Coordination Body of San Marcos (CORNASAM, for its name in Spanish). This entity has been instrumental in development of the microwatershed-based community water planning and management model designed to promote integrated water resource management emphasizing sustainable development and local water governance.

Moisés Villatoro told the visitors about CORNASAM’s background and explained its vision and work philosophy in promoting interinstitutional and multisectoral coordination in the Suchiate, Coatán, Naranjo and Cuilco river basins. He described the initial difficulties in forming CORNASAM, particularly integrating all of the institutions and organizations working in the zone, but indicated the advantages of such an entity for coordinating and integrating efforts under a vision of the whole and of articulated work, as well as the achievements obtained through joint and integrated actions with a territorial vision based on microwatersheds.

Mr. Rodas emphasized that CORNASAM was created in order to join efforts, integrate areas of action, prevent duplication of work, scale up results, achieve greater impacts and obtain more efficiency in use of the limited resources each of the separate institutions has available.

A highly important aspect is that participation of the organizations and institutions is voluntary, and that thanks to their joint advocacy, CODEDE allocated funds for environmental management in San Marcos. The entity’s success is based on complementarity in the areas of work of these 18 members of CORNASAM, and most especially on the holistic vision they have achieved. This has helped them seek more integrated solutions to environmental problems, and it has not been necessary for them to establish a legal identity in order to do this.

During the tour in the field and interviews with different communities and local political authorities, visitors could learn in detail about the process for training and environmental strengthening of the municipalities and associated municipalities and coordination with the system of development councils, as well as criteria for social organization and local participation through the establishment of microwatershed councils, the steps in preparing microwatershed management plans, and the promotion of strategic alliances with government and nongovernmental organizations for the restoration, protection, preservation, fostering and management of strategic ecosystems in prioritized microwatersheds.

Romeo Vásquez of ACAX said, “The visit was very useful and worthwhile for everyone, especially because we could witness for ourselves in the field the high degree of participation, empowerment and knowledge of their territories in the communities that have been being organized, trained, strengthened and accompanied throughout the process by the IUCN’s Tacaná II project. We could also see that the model developed is practical, useful, simple, and effective, so there’s no doubt that its adoption and adaptation to the socio-environmental conditions of the subwatershed of the Xayá River will be of great benefit.”

Mayor-elect of Zaragoza, Ariel Salazar, indicated that “the basis for the success of the model developed by the IUCN is that it is inclusive, very participatory and based on strategic alliances, which makes it possible to connect and join forces in a single direction and comprehensively. Also, it is very satisfying to see the degree of empowerment in the communities and women’s participation; as a result it is practical, useful, effective and simple to replicate.”

Speaking for ACAX, Damián Quino mentioned that: “it is interesting to see how the Microwatershed Councils have been established based on the operating and legal structure of the Community Development Councils, with a clear socio-environmental vision for the development of their microwatersheds, and how they recognize the importance of conserving the strategic water recharge zones in order to guarantee water supply in quantity, quality and periodicity for the different alternative uses in their communities—which will be highly important in the case of the subwatershed of the Xayá River, which supplies water for human consumption to many people.”

For more information contact:

Carlos R. Rosal Del Cid
Regional Officer
Water Management Unit
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative
Telephones: 00502-5966-6957 and 00502-5918-0317