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Workshop Report

COLOMBIA: Villagers in Cuernavaca Set Up a Plan for Integrated Peasant Water Management

Organizer: Julia Andrea Osorio Henao

In the small village La Holanda, in Cuernavaca, Colombia, farmers met to build a Pyramid around their local water problems. The workshop was organized at the initiative of Julia Andrea Osorio Henao as part of her doctoral research work on integrated peasant water management technologies.

Water use in the region of Cuernavaca is monopolized by companies that need this resource for the irrigation of sugarcane crops, water bottling and hydroelectric power generation. This results into water shortages for the local community which often cause health problems or lead to social conflicts.


As concluded by the group, the root causes of these problems are threefold: from the administrative side, there are dysfunctions in the monitoring of environmental impacts; the community lacks knowledge and cohesion to claim their water rights; and the private sector has no incentive to give up short-term thinking or adopt technologies for water cleaning and reuse.

The solutions envisioned ranged from running awareness projects to setting up village committees for environmental advocacy. But one thing is certain, the participating farmers and NGO representatives have made a Capstone agreement to take action: “We will develop our own program of Integrated Cuernavaca Peasant Water Management!!!”

As the organizer describes it, the Pyramid workshop “began a process of change in the paradigm of water management. The water was conceived as something external to the peasant who acted passively for access.” This is now shifting to a view where water access is conceived as a right and responsibility, hence the name “peasant water”.

A few other tangible outcomes:

  • “We identified the challenges in integrated water management to carry out the peasant life project, by the methodology SWOT;
  • We identified the critical points to start the way around the integrated and community-based water management of Cuernavaca;
  • It will involve the component PEASANT WATER in the formulation of 21 municipal development plans that are currently in the process of development (impact on public policy);
  • Strengthened the network of labor between the Universidad del Valle (public university), the NGO VallenPaz (a recognized NGO that has strong socio-economic impacts in areas with conflict), the municipal development council and rural community associations;
  • It is designing the program INTEGRATED PEASANT WATER MANAGEMENT for the continued momentum of food and the life quality in Cuernavaca – Padilla – Cauca, focusing on the local situation and the ideal life project of each participating farmer.”

Overall – a wonderful start, we hope, for changing the situation of the villagers of La Holanda!

Would you be interested in the details of this research, let us know and we will put you in contact with the author.

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