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Collective Action in Watershed Management: Experiences from the Andean Hillsides

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ravnborg, Helle Munk; Guerrero, María del Pilar
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/880
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
mountain regions
multiple use
collective action
common pool resources
Abstract: "Since early 1996, CIAT's hillsides project has been working in Los Zanjones and Guadualito, two small multi- ethnic watersheds in the Andean hillsides of southern Colombia, where little collective action has previously taken place. This work focuses on the social capital aspects of watershed management, i.e. on ways to foster collective or concerted efforts among watershed users in their day-to-day management of natural resources and thereby enable them to deal with problems that cannot be solved by individuals acting alone.... "Based on this work in Cabuyal watershed and in the micro-watersheds nested within the Cabuyal watershed, this paper deals with two major issues related to platforms for collective action in watershed management. The first issue is that of ensuring the representation of all stakeholders related to the watershed. The paper discusses the problems related to building platforms on already existing platforms and to indirect representation in contexts such as the Andean hillsides, characterized by poor means of communication, lack of trust, impaired democratic traditions and thus without a strong base-level or local platform. In this light, the paper turns to discuss the importance of and methods for comprehensive stakeholder identification and describes how this constitutes the first step towards creating local platforms for watershed management negotiations. Such local platforms might eventually form the basis for a larger scale platform with indirect representation of the various interest groups. "The second major issue is that of the importance of a third party to facilitate platform processes. As mentioned above, the research reported in this paper has the character of action research. In this way, the case described in the paper serves in itself as an illustration of the importance of a third party facilitator. "The paper is organized into sixsections. Following the introduction, section 2 summarizes the experiences from a larger watershed users' association which led to our work in the micro-watersheds. From section 3 and onwards, we thus turn to Guadualito, one of the micro-watersheds in the Andean hillsides. Section 3 describes the conditions under which local platforms for watershed management have to operate and how the process towards the creation of a local platform for the collective management of Guadualito was initiated. Section 4 discusses the importance of and methods for stakeholder identification. It argues that stakeholder identification in the context of multiple use CPRs has to take palce as a constructivist inquiry. In section 5, we summarize the constructions emerging from our interviews with watershed users in Guadualito with respect to their perspectives and concerns related to watershed management as well as the actions that are currently emerging as a result of stimulating the negotiation of these diverse perspectives and concerns. Finally, section 6 draws the conclusions with respect to representation and the importance of third party facilitation."

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