WANI: Tacaná Watersheds - Guatemala & Mexico

Transboundary water governance and implementation of IWRM through local community action

WANI (Water And Nature Initiative) and partners set up a demonstration project in the Tacaná Watersheds, which combined pilot livelihoods projects and bottom-up integrated governance of water resources management. Raising awareness and disseminating information about water resources management were major goals for WANI. Numerous community pilot projects to improve livelihoods through water, soil and environmental conservation were carried out. These were also part of the mechanism to bring stakeholders together to organize themselves into Microwatershed councils. Additionally, when Tropical Storm Stan struck the area in 2005, activities to restore water supplies were carried out by WANI in this part of Guatemala.

Many lessons have been identified from WANI’s work in the Tacaná Watersheds. Among these is the understanding that developing local governance and organizational structures benefit and complement IWRM actions. Integrating local communities and their social structures into Microwatershed councils leads to greater cohesion and unity. Additionally, that strengthening community-based alliances and integrating them with municipal and national development institutions increases coordination between administrative levels. Finally, developing disaster risk management planning should be integral to the overall watershed management planning and not just as an emergency response (as demonstrated by Tropical Storm Stan).

The WANI Tacaná Watersheds demonstration project has built a platform for wider influencing of regional and national water management. The promotion of integrated water resources management and resilience at the local, national and regional level has continued with other projects, which mostly focus on governance through Microwatershed councils and building resilience through water management. The continued livelihoods work is also a strong component in these complementing projects. (IUCN 2012)