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Collaboratory update March 2022 | Colombia

The latest news and updates from our colleagues in Colombia

01 March 2022


Members of our Colombia Collaboratory are researching community-based tourism of water attractions in the municipality of Jamundí, in the Upper Cauca River Basin (UCRB). The three sub-basins that run through its territory are tributaries of the Cauca River - the Jamundí, Claro, and Timba Rivers: these areas have the highest concentration of water-based tourist attractions (ponds, waterfalls, wetlands, springs). Working with the Jamundí Secretariat of Tourism, the team is investigating methods that strengthen nature tourism in the region to generate economic income for local communities, whilst keeping sustainability at their core. Through participatory research and a dialogic teaching and learning process, the interdisciplinary team worked with communities to produce business models, including specific actions related to environmental carrying capacity, water biosecurity, and solid waste management to avoid the degradation of local ecosystems.

In the past few months the Colombia team has held two webinars. In the first, ‘Socio-ecological Transitions for Climate Resilience’, the team explored connections between climate change and the interactions between human behaviour and ecological systems. Discussions centred around socio-cultural and technological practices in the use, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems, water, soil, and biodiversity, and how to encourage a transition to these practices. The second webinar focused on strengthening transparent processes to confront and mitigate the effects of corruption, and contribute to equitable water security in Colombia. Speakers included Vivian Newman Pont, Executive Director of the Centre for Studies in Law, Justice, and Society - Dejusticia; Leonor Abadía Benítez, President of the Regional Commission for Moralisation of Valle del Cauca; and Andrés Felipe Ramirez, Municipal Mayor of Jamundí. (Watch the webinar recordings on the Colombia team Facebook page).

Mapping with community members in the field

As a continuation of the social cartography research method, Colombian colleagues held further workshops with the local Kishu community. Key actors of the community were trained in developing digital maps using Google Earth software, creating maps of their own territory and comparing their representation to official cartography data. In the next phase of this research, the team plans to georeference sites mapped with community members in the field using GPS software. The Colombia team’s recent fieldwork has also involved photo interpretation and drone calibration for water quality assessment. Data is being gathered from both under water (in the river) and outside of it, in order to obtain a calibration for different types of land cover.

Progress has been made on the Rapid Research Fund project exploring community management of water for human consumption. Meetings have been held with multiple stakeholders, including institutional actors, the Drinking Water Regulation Commission, and representatives of the National Committee for Community Water Management, who are using the research to advocate with the Vice Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Colombia.

Colleagues at Universidad del Valle are also researching the main factors that influence the implementation of payments for ecosystem services (PES). Conceptualised as market-based solutions aimed at the conservation of ecosystem services, PES have been promoted as an effective instrument to achieve ecosystem conservation. The team recently followed-up on the implementation of PES in Jamundí. The Jamundí PES project focuses on community-based conservation, integrating social with environmental objectives, where conservation goes hand-in-hand with community development. Although PES cannot solve poverty problems, it hopefully will help to address support for sustainable projects.

The team, led by Carolina Salcedo from Universidad del Valle, developed a ‘rural museum’, supported by the Mayor’s Office of Jamundí through the stimulus programme for art and cultural heritage 2021. The museum, 'Memories of a Riverside Territory' (‘Memorias de un Territorio Ribereño’ in Spanish), is an appropriation and resignification project of the Home for the Elderly of the Paso de la Bolsa village, that showcases the different traditional knowledge of all generations of people in this territory. Through dialogues around fishing, stories of the practice, agriculture, gastronomy, oral and cultural traditions, the voices of all people are included in the historical heritage of the territory. Workshops on the appropriation of the territory and resignification of historical memory and local knowledge were held. Through mingas (the indigenous and campesino tradition of cooperative and voluntary work for the common good), the walls of the house of the elderly were decorated, and handicrafts, artistic knowledge, and other elements that narrated the village history were collected.

Finally, the Universidad del Cauca team has been awarded a second research project by the Colombian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Titled “Bioeconomic strengthening for social and productive reactivation based on the offer of hydrological ecosystem services in the context of climate change and the challenges of Covid-19, in the municipalities of Puracé, Popayán, Cajibío and Silvia, department of Cauca”, the project commence in 2023.

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