MONTAÑA Elma Carmen
congresos y reuniones científicas
"Water, Global Environmental Change and Poverty in Andean Drylands"
Seminario; "Poverty, Water and Local Development" cross-continental and interdisciplinary seminar; 2011
Institución organizadora:
CLACSO-CROP Programme, Makerere University, The Nile Basin Programme (NBRP) and The Nordic Africa Institute (NAI)
A long standing research line on water and territory construction in drylands in the central western part of Argentina was the basis for a thematic shift towards rural community vulnerability to climate/hydrological trends and extreme events in the context of global environmental change. In recent years, this line of work was facilitated by international collaborative projects, including a recent CLACSO-CROP senior research grant on climate change and poverty. This made it possible to undertake a comparative research of three Andean basins: the Mendoza River basin in central-western Argentina; the Pucara (Tiraque-Punata) River basin in Cochabamba, Bolivia; and the Elqui River basin in the Coquimbo region, Chile. For this research, differential vulnerabilities to meteorological / hydrological events and their impact on poverty were assessed using qualitative methods. Also, institutional arrangements and policies were explored looking for opportunities to synergize poverty reduction and resilience to climate change. Climate and water scenarios in the three basins were used as starting points for identifying present and future vulnerabilities and their impact on the livelihoods of the poor in these rural communities. Climate change vulnerability and poverty production processes seemed to be articulated in different mechanisms involving factors such as nature of the productive system, farmer's typology and location in the basin, among others. Vulnerability and poverty turned out to be associated not only with specific climate and water exposures but also with previous and current social and economic exposures resulting from market-oriented economic policies and from the drivers of the global economy in general. Working with communities in three different countries also made it possible to compare vulnerability and poverty equations in the context of different development models and institutional frameworks. Though from an orthodox standpoint the Pucara peasants are the poorest, Bolivia had less formal institutions addressing water and poverty problems. But despite the great hardship the people endure, this community showed a richer repertoire of adaptive strategies and feelings of wellbeing probably linked to the fact that it has retained more control over its productive activities, family, social ties and lifestyle in general. Though with different social and economic policies, Argentina and Chile have established more formal institutions that address poverty from a traditional perspective and have a set of systematic institutional arrangements in place that facilitate synergies between climate change adaptation and efforts to combat poverty. However, these two countries witnessed a steady impoverishment of small farmers that forced them to sell their lands and migrate to cities where they joined the growing number of urban poor. Once the linkage between global environmental change, water and poverty was identified, anticipatory learning mechanisms were used to explore possible future policies and predict their effects on climate change adaptation and poverty alleviation. In this analysis, policies addressing specific aspects of water vulnerability show their limitations as they could only improve the natural part of the drivers of poverty. If they are too focused, the adaptive strategies that reduce the vulnerabilities of some producers may also increase the vulnerabilities of other producers. In communities where the powers of social actors are strongly imbalanced and where the rural poor are not agricultural producers but people who work for a salary in agribusiness firms, policies for managing water risks are likely to benefit only the land owners without reaching the poor. On the other hand, policies addressing more diversified drivers of vulnerability (livelihood diversification efforts, literacy promotion, women’s rights initiatives, health programs, etc.) seem to be more suitable for drawing synergic effects from poverty alleviation and climate change adaptation.