Adaptation to Climate Impacts in Water Regulation and Supply for the Area of Chingaza – Sumapaz – Guerrero, Colombia
This project had the general objective “to strengthen the hydrological buffering and regulation capacity of the upper areas of the watersheds located in the Chingaza-Sumapaz-Guerrero Conservation Corridor, which supply drinking water to the metropolitan area of Bogota and the adjoining municipalities.”
This project in Colombia was undertaken in response to the fact that, in the future, several of the effects of a changing climate are expected to significantly affect the natural water regulation function of the target area, negatively impacting both the surrounding communities and the Bogota metropolitan region that benefits from the water supply coming from the region. Through the numerous studies and activities carried out, the project aimed to achieve more resilient and sustainable water supply and sanitation systems in the long term. It helped to improve the understanding of climate change impacts on water supply and the regulating capacities of wetland ecosystems for the subsequent implementation of measures, as well as to provide critical information to stakeholders that could be incorporated into other local sustainable resource management plans. Moreover, this solution also improved the overall capacities of local communities so they could anticipate and cope with the effects of climate change.
The different measures implemented were mostly designed jointly with stakeholders and were structured around two main technical components:
Component 1: Knowledge management
Component 2: Adoption of adaptation measures to address the impacts of climate variability and change on the water balance of the areas.
- Implementation sites:
- Single country
- Single location
- Mountain region:
- The Andes
- Site locations:
Chingaza-Sumapaz-Guerrero Conservation Corridor
- Solution scale:
- Sub-national / Regional
- Ecosystem type(s):
- Agricultural land
- High Alpine
- Lakes and rivers
- Solution type(s):
- Education and awareness
- Land use practice
- Basic Infrastructure
- Human Health & Wellbeing
- Plans & policy
- Climate impact(s) addressed:
- Altered growing seasons
- Heat stress
- Impact time-scales:
- Rapid Onset
- Slow Onset
- Social benefits (e.g. poverty reduction, inclusiveness and equity, health and well-being)
- Climate risk reduction (e.g. reduced risk from floods)
- Economic benefits (e.g. job creation, tourism)
- Environmental benefits (e.g. biodiversity preservation, water security, food security)
- Technical benefits (e.g. innovative use of geographic information systems)
- Implementation timeline:
- 2014 - 2021
- Sendai targets:
Main beneficiaries & outcomes
Civil society and local institutions and organizations significantly benefited from the project in terms of the knowledge and capacity building strategies under Component 1, which included the development of an Adaptive Territorial Ecological Structure, the generation of monitoring plans, hydrological assessments, among others. Likewise, the activities carried out as part of Component 2 helped the population living in the watershed by supporting many families in the incorporation of adaptation measures or climate resilient management practices in their production systems. Other indirect beneficiaries were the inhabitants of Bogota and neighbouring municipalities for whom water provision was enhanced and secured.
A deferential and gender-focused approach was integrated in the project’s design to guarantee the effective participation of both communities and women’s groups, as well as an equitable distribution of benefits, taking into account the diverse social gaps and needs. To this end, a vulnerability and resilience analysis were conducted beforehand.
Planning and implementation
The implementing agency of the project was the Inter-American Development Bank, while execution occurred under the responsibility of Conservation International (CI) on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) in Colombia and in close coordination with the Colombia’s National Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) which acted as head of the Technical Committee and technical-scientific coordinating body. Moreover, other institutional actors such as environmental authorities, regional autonomous corporations and research institutions, as well as community members and action councils also participated and were actively involved in the preparation and design of the project, as well as in the validation and implementation of specific relevant interventions through workshops and public consultations.
To ensure effective coordination and implementation of activities, and to facilitate communication among stakeholders, initial cooperation agreements were signed in the early stages of the project between the most relevant institutions and the Executing Agency. Besides, a project Steering Committee, a Technical Committee and a project Implementation Unit were also created. Various working sessions and meetings (including virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions) were organized among these groups through the project duration.
The project was financed by the Global Environmental Facility through the Special Climate Change Fund. The next table illustrates the total project financial costs and their distribution by component:
Local Counterpart Contribution
Project Coordination and Management
Source: IDB, 2014
The multi-stakeholder approach with a differential and gender focus that was employed in the design, implementation and monitoring of this solution proved to be an innovative strategy that was key to the success of the measures. By using a participatory strategy, the project helped to provide new low-impact alternatives to traditional activities that are in line with environmental, economic, social and political objectives with a long-term perspective and that drive transformational change in the region.
Furthermore, it is also pertinent to take into account the fact that the implementation of Climate Adaptation programs is still considered a relatively new concept in some of the communities involved.
To assess the achievements made through implementation, a Terminal Evaluation was performed at the closing of the project activities. The results of such evaluation, divided into Impact, Effectiveness, Efficiency and Sustainability as the five measurable dimensions, showed that, with the exception of Sustainability, which was rated as ” likely”, the project performed in a Highly Satisfactory manner. However, no field data collection was possible due to the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, triangulation with the various stakeholders was conducted and compliance reports were carried out.
Although an impact evaluation was initially contemplated, it was not conducted since it was finally concluded that it did not make sense given the amount of the grant, the size of the project and, above all, the baseline data.
Long term project sustainability and maintenance
The sustainability of the project, which was rated as “probable” during its final evaluation, is expected to be achieved through the implementation of five different projects that were contemplated in the project design and that will ensure the continuation of the activities carried out. This is partially supported by a proposed long-term follow-up and by the transformational change identified in the beneficiaries, institutions and organizations involved.
At the same time, the project also included the integration of a Monitoring System carried out jointly with some of the local beneficiaries and comprising four main components: hydrometeorological, ecohydrological, socioeconomic and community. The latter focused particularly on the estimation of the medium-term effects of the water regulation adaptation measures implemented, as well as on the well-being of the communities.
Capacities for design and implementation
As it is evidenced by the integration of a Knowledge Management Component as a central aspect of this solution, from the beginning of the project design and implementation processes, knowledge capabilities were considered of fundamental importance for the successful implementation of this solution.
For more effective hydrological and environmental management, special attention was given to the creation and transfer of knowledge related to the impacts of climate change on hydrological regulation and on the effects this has on local communities and other stakeholders. Efforts included the generation and use of high-resolution climate scenarios, assessments of the vulnerability of high Andean ecosystems in terms of their capacity to supply and regulate water, and the use of monitoring systems to track the impact of adaptation measures. All the results of this component were shared with the rest of the project partners. In addition, training workshops were held to improve stakeholders’ knowledge of climate change.
The National Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia (IDEAM) acted as the scientific and technical agency for the project and provided the necessary support during the development of Component 1.
The available technologies were particularly useful for the generation of climate scenarios and other relevant data under Component 1. However, under Component 2, the project also incorporated the promotion of technology transfer and uptake for climate adaptation in some of the participating households. One example was the incorporation of fog water harvesting technologies, which is a very simple but sustainable technology.
Political / Legal
The development of this project based its objectives on the State laws and was aligned with the public policies and national plans that were in force at the time of its design. For example, it followed the objectives and strategies of the National Policy for Integrated Management of Water Resources (MADS 2010, MADS 2012), and used the National Policy for Integrated Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Management as a basis for designing the activities to be carried out.
Additionally, the solutions were also aligned with other conventions and regulations at the national level including the Fifth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2014), the biodiversity conservation policies being formulated for the Bogotá and Chingaza-Sumapaz-Guerrero Corridor area, and the National Development Plan 2010-2014. It also provided useful experience for the development of the National Adaptation Plan.
Finally, the political support for this project was present in the different processes, most notably by the participation of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) as the executing agency.
The institutional stakeholders of this project included:
- Environmental authorities: Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) and the Special Administrative Unit of the National Natural Parks System.
- Regional Autonomous Corporations: Regional Autonomous Corporation of Guavio (CORPOGUAVIO) and the Bogota District Secretariat of the Environment (SDA)
- Research institutions: Colombia’s National Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) and the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute.
- Government of the Department of Cundinamarca
- Bogota water and sewerage utility (EAAB)
The coordination and collaboration between partner institutions was secured by the creation of a Steering Committee formed by high level representatives from MADS, EAAB, IDEAM, CORPOGUAVIO and the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (CAR). Roles and responsibilities of members was agreed and established in a Project Operational Manual.
Community members and relevant social groups played a very important role in the implementation of activities under Component 2, assisting in the design and implementation of the solutions. According to the final evaluation of the project, the participation of local and women’s organizations in the execution of these activities was a turning point in the project that not only promoted ownership of the solutions, but also produced a transformative change within the beneficiaries and local communities themselves. Likewise, their participation also facilitated the continuation of activities in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these important actors included base communities, community action councils, teams in charge of land use planning instruments, and the watershed and ecosystem management committees.
Outlook & Scalability
Barriers and adverse effects
One of the main challenges that the project faced was the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the final stages of implementation, and the effects it had on stakeholder engagement due to the associated restrictions in mobility. Additionally, regarding physical activities, the restrictions affected as well the execution of restoration activities and other capacity building activities, causing some delays during the second semester of 2020. However, all remaining activities under Component 2 resumed in the second semester and were successfully completed.
Through the duration of the project, the Executing Agency was in charge reporting any problems or delays in the execution to MADS and the Inter-American Development Bank so that appropriate response measures could be timely taken and that support could be provided.
Transformation and future outlook
During the final evaluation of the project, it was considered that the measures undertaken supported a transformational change in the beneficiaries, institutions and partners involved in relation to their knowledge of climate change and its different impacts on water users at lower latitudes. By increasing this type of knowledge and providing alternatives to certain traditional activities, it is estimated that the potential damages to high-mountain ecosystems of the region have been importantly reduced, and that their resilience has increased.
In addition, this project also helped restoring mountain areas that are critical for the hydrological regulation in high altitude regions, and helped incrementing the number of territorial entities and environmental authorities that invest in adaptation to climate change in High Mountain ecosystems.
Potential for upscaling and replication
In order to support the possible up-scaling or replication of this solution to other parts of Colombia or other countries, the project included the developed of an intervention methodology. Likewise, the diffusion of lessons learned through the project’s detailed final and terminal evaluation reports can also serve as a guide for the same purposes.
This survey was prepared based on the information available in the Project’s Terminal Evaluation, which was prepared in 2020 and is available through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) website ( https://www.thegef.org/project/adaptation-climate-impacts-water-regulation-and-supply-area-chingaza-sumapaz-guerrero) . The description of the solution reflects the views of the authors and not those of the Government of Colombia, Inter-American Development Bank, Conservation International, or any other project partner. Julia J. Aguilera Rodriguez completed the survey information, while Simon Allen reviewed the solution description.