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Is External Assistance Needed for Adaptation? An Assessment of Government Intervention in Local Water Management in the Colombian Andes

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Murtinho, Felipe; Eakin, H.; Lopez-Carr, D.
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/6558
Sector: Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Subject(s): environmental change
local participatory management
sustainability
crowding
Abstract: "This article explores the impacts of different financial strategies on Water User Associations' ability to adapt to water source degradation. The article addresses the debate regarding whether and in what form communities need external support for adaptation to environmental change. In the Andean region of South America, understanding how communities fund their projects is particularly important for water management as many rural communities must decide by themselves if and how they will protect their watersheds and distribute their water. In many cases, communities depend on government financial support to implement their adaptation strategies, requiring them to participate in clientelist political systems that can crowd-out their efforts to adapt. In the Fúquene watershed in the Andes of Colombia, there is evidence that communities have invested time and financial resources to implement adaptation strategies. Local governments in the region have also invested in these strategies by supporting communities' projects requests and through a top-down investment approach. In this article, we use quantitative and qualitative methods to assess how different financial strategies influence communities' initiative to adapt. Findings suggest that despite communities’ efforts to use their own internal resources, in the long term, external support is needed to finance their adaptation strategies. However, a key aspect for the sustainability of communities' initiatives to adapt is the nature of the external financial intervention. Results show that government unsolicited help increases the likelihood of crowding out their efforts to adapt. In the other hand, in cases where communities request government help to fund their own project initiatives, external intervention crowds in communities' efforts to adapt."

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