Program for Watershed Protection

What is Rare's Program for Watershed Protection?

In 2009, 11 organizations from four countries—Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia—partnered with Rare to help save some of the world's most endangered species while protecting community livelihoods.

For two years, 11 Rare Conservation Fellows built community support for cloud forest and alpine grassland protection, critical to sustaining regional fresh water sources. The fellows employed Rare’s signature marketing campaigns with targeted media such as billboards, radio spots and puppet shows to change behaviors. These Pride campaigns engaged community members—from school children to cattle ranchers—to take pride in natural resources. Simultaneously, the program created innovative reciprocal agreements between upstream and downstream villages to maintain water production and quality for a quarter million people.

Rare is now repeating what worked in 13 new sites including expansion into Mexico.  With partners ranging from a water utility in Colombia to Conservation International in Peru, Rare will continue to chart a new course for water and life in Latin American highlands.



What are Reciprocal Water Agreements?

Andean  culture honors a tradition of reciprocity. These agreements are based on the principle that users and beneficiaries of a natural resource should compensate those who safeguard the resource.


In 2 years the 11 fellows inspired community pride in conservation while protecting livelihoods, which led to lasting change.















What's Next?

Rare received 110 expressions of interest for the next watershed protection campaigns. Applicants ranged from water utilities to local nonprofits, many from municipalities near the previous campaigns. Success breeds demand.

The new campaigns will influence 1.5m people to change behaviors and become resource managers as well as users. By protecting the infinite value of intact cloud forests and páramo, communities safeguard water supplies.

3/4 countries in Rare's first watershed protection program will proliferate the approach. Engaging local communities through targeted marketing and reciprocal water agreements will increasingly become an accepted and effective biodiversity management tool at the national policy level.



Water for Life Brochure
Download English version (PDF)
Download Spanish version (PDF)
Download English version (PDF)
Download Spanish version (PDF)


Read more about Rare's Program for Watershed Protection

Bear Meets Rare Frog: César Laura partners with Rare for the second time

Transformations: Impact on personal, professional and planetary levels

When the streets got their names: Watershed protection kicks off in Ecuador


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This project is supported by: 

This project is supported by GEF, Harold M & Adeline S. Morisson Family Foundation, Fundacion Pedro Y Elena Hernandez, A.C. and Disney Club PenguinFundacion Pedro Y Elena Hernandez, A.C. Disney Club Penguin Global Environment Facility




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