Land managers receive development boost for wise stewardship

Authors Directorate, E.S.P.A.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


The ‘water factories’ in Bolivia’s upper watersheds have been degraded by unsustainable land use. In Bolivia, many communities have no economic alternative other than to deforest their land for agriculture and livestock grazing, even though removing forest cover jeopardises the water sources on which they and downstream users depend. Farmers allow their cattle to roam freely through the forest, contaminating water supplies and posing a serious health risk to water users.

Watershared schemes facilitate an exchange whereby downstream water users provide incentives to upstream land managers to conserve and plant trees, and to manage their cattle carefully, with greater respect for the watercourses. In return, the upstream residents receive materials and equipment to bolster sustainable livelihoods, such as beehives, fruit trees, irrigation systems and water troughs for cattle.

The project demonstrated that the implementation of these ‘Watershared’ agreements is replicable and scalable across Bolivia, and raised interest from the private sector. The solutions presented by ‘Watershared’ agreements resonate with communities across Latin America and worldwide, despite the different socioeconomic contexts and locations.