Moisture gathers in the spongy soils throughout Latin America’s highlands. The grasslands (called páramo) and cloud forest regulate and filter water before it emerges as a river bringing communities their water for irrigation, cooking, washing and drinking. Deforestation for farming, timber and cattle ranching degrades soil and results in increased and unpredictable seasonal floods and droughts. Imagine the benefits to people and nature if upstream landowners collectively protected the water source that sustains millions.
this is a story of water and life in latin america
a tradition of reciprocity
Meet the farmers of Los Negros, Bolivia. Rampant deforestation led to a decrease in water levels by 50 percent in the last 25 years during the dry season. When offered cash payments to preserve habitat one farmer said, “If I receive cash, I know I will spend it right away. Instead, I want these payments to create something that lasts.” A local organization, Fundación Natura Bolivia, tested an innovative agreement system that honors the Andean culture of reciprocity. Rare partnered with them and now works with communities to get the agreements adopted throughout Latin America. This is how they work:
reciprocal water agreements
Rare and its partners throughout Latin America work with local communities to sign and implement innovative agreements for upstream habitat protection, critical to sustaining regional freshwater sources. Rare’s signature Pride campaigns build community support for the agreements.
sparked by pride
The process of convincing landowners to conserve their land can take more than five years, if at all. Through Rare’s signature Pride campaigns, Rare’s partners not only teach communities about the dependence between a healthy forest, páramo and water, they generate community pride in residents’ roles as guardians of one of life’s most valuable resources. With Pride campaigns building lasting community support, conservation agreements are now being signed within two years.
people and nature benefit
Bringing together Pride campaigns and reciprocal water agreements creates a culture that respects the role forests and grasslands play in protecting the livelihoods and water supply of the surrounding community. It’s a Rare approach, and it works.
Some of the world’s most endangered species live in the watersheds of the Andes. More than 20 percent of species identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction live in the Andean highlands, half of those without protected habitat. The reciprocal water agreements facilitated by Pride campaigns protect habitat, and create corridors, critical to multiple species’ chances of survival.