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Examining the importance of watershed resources in the Colombian Andes

Nancy Johnson


Watersheds, especially in the developing world, are increasingly being managed for both environmental conservation and poverty alleviation. How complementary are these objectives? This study analyses the importance of watershed resources in the livelihoods of the poor in two watersheds in the Colombian Andes using the Stages of Progress participatory poverty assessment methodology. The results reveal significant decreases in poverty in both watersheds over the past 25 years, largely achieved by the diversification of livelihoods outside of agriculture. Water is an important resource for household welfare, but the results suggest that opportunities for reducingpoverty by increasing the quantity or quality of water available to the poor may be limited. However, while improved watershed management may have limited direct benefits in terms of poverty alleviation, there are important indirect linkages between watershed management and poverty, mainly through labor and service markets. The results also suggest that at the level of the watershed the interests of the rich and the poor are not always in conflict over water. The paper compares the Stages of Progress method and results to objective poverty measures. The implications of the empirical and methodological results for policymakers, planners, practitioners and researchers are discussed.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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