Management of Watersheds in the Chilean Valley of Itata

Impact: Voluntary Agreement for the Management of Watersheds

Partners: LAWET-net

Chile

Sebastián Rojas, National Coordinator of Instruments for the Chilean Agency for Sustainability and Climate Change, attended the  ‘Sustainable Water Governance training’. The skills gained in the course allowed Sebastián to coordinate the preparation and negotiation of the Voluntary Agreement for the Management of Watersheds in the Chilean Valley of Itata. The main problems and challenges of the Itata river basin were related to the scarcity of water for human consumption and productive activities, the contamination of the environment, the deficit of sewage connections, and the vulnerability of the area to floods and forest fires.

Sebastián utilized his knowledge and skills directly to: i) work on a systemic approach to address territorial problems and challenges; ii) develop a management plan limited to collective objectives and goals, using the basin as a management unit; iii) identify and map key actors and their interests; iv) organize workshops to transform socio-environmental conflicts and promote the active participation of the community; v) negotiate agreements assumed collectively between entities representing the public, private, community and academic sectors; and vi) use a bottom-up approach to develop the agreement involving all key actors.

The actors who supported initiative also expressed interest in developing an agreement in the basin, mainly in support of the participatory local monitoring work. Since the signing of the agreement by 15 entities in 2018, the implementation stage begun, where actions were followed up and monitored, important actions have been carried out, such as the constitution of a Communal Union of Rural Drinking Water Committees which allows the most isolated groups of the Itata basin to have greater representation and access technical support and training to, for example, monitor the quality and quantity of the water available. A Technical and Financing Subcommittee was also established for coordination with forestry companies and the generation of fire prevention plans as well as resource mobilization to support further actions in the basin.