Science seeks to decrease the effects of drought in Guanacaste
Marianela Argüello L.
A bleak picture, with scenarios of dry pastures, undernourished cattle and creeks and wells that have disappeared. This is the painful image that can be seen before the onset of the rainy season in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the region where the FuturAgua project works to strengthen technical scientific information that allows the inhabitants of the province to make better decisions regarding processes for adaptation to climate change.
The development of FuturAgua comes at the right time, since presently Guanacaste faces its second consecutive year of drought, which generates important challenges for water management, the development of productive activities such as agriculture and tourism, as well as for the Guanacastecans’ daily activities.
“Right now Guanacaste faces the consequences of droughts during the past few years; many of our communities do not have sufficient water to conduct their daily activities, wells are dry and springs have disappeared. We are suffering from the lack of water,” were the words of Xinia Campos, representative of the Nicoyagua Foundation and one of the local partners who supports the implementation of FuturAgua.
Specifically, the work of FuturAgua has focused on the development of research on hydrological and climatic condition in the region, as well as on socioeconomic studies, in which innovative methods are being generated that will serve as a guide to orient water management throughout the world. Likewise, the project aims to promote local impacts through the identification of key strategies for inter-institutional coordination and gaps in public water management policies and the need to strengthen local capacities for adaptation.
|Pável Bautista, researcher in the Latin American Chair for Environmental Decisions (CLADA), of the Climate Change and Watersheds Program (CCWP) at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), informed that the preliminary results of the project indicate that rains in Guanacaste follow a bi-modal pattern, which is being used to characterize inter-annual climate variability and create climate change scenarios that are better adapted for the region. Bautista added that the projections of these scenarios will be combined with data regarding availability and demand of water from the Potrero-Caimital watershed, in order to come up with projections of the impact of climate change on water resources.
Information at your fingertips
You can find the following information in the FuturAgua project’s Web site (http://futuragua.ca/ubc/inicio/):
“This information will be analyzed and shared with relevant actors in the area to facilitate their interpretation, promote the generation of policies that are better adapted and evaluate a priori the challenges that climate change is imposing on Guanacastecans’ productive activities and life in general,” added the researcher from CLADA.
On the other hand, socioeconomic studies have determined the influence of local perceptions on water management, as well as the identification of relevant actors from each productive and social sector in water resource management. A second phase of this research will determine the gaps in water governance and limitations in resource flows, including financial and information resources, which hinder conflict resolution.
In order to inform and achieve appropriation by local actors, the project organizes meetings or workshops on “Sharing knowledge to strengthen adaptation to drought in Guanacaste.”
These efforts will end with the integrated analysis of the results of the project to generate teaching tools that facilitate the dissemination and understanding of these results, such as interactive games, videos and simulation models.
FuturAgua is implemented by a consortium composed by the CLADA at CATIE, the International Center for Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). It is also supported by an advisory group of key local partners comprised by the Tempisque Conservation Area (TCA), the Nicoyagua Foundation, the Municipality of Nicoya, the National University of Costa Rica (UNA), the Chamber of Cattlemen, the Costa Rican Institution of Aqueducts and Sewers of Nicoya (AyA) and the Community Water Associations.
Researcher and associate coordinator
Marianela Argüello L.
Climate Change and Watersheds Program
Conserving the environment could improve human health
Karla Salazar Leiva
Frequently we have heard talk about the importance of conserving the environment and the services that it offers us. Nevertheless, there are very few scientific data that prove why ecosystem conservation benefits us. In the face of this void, Subhrendu Pattanayak, professor of world health, environment and public policy at Duke University, in Durham, North Caroline, United States, undertook the task of conducting a study in this regard in the Brazilian Amazon.
During the first semester of 2015, Pattanayak visited CATIE’s Research in Development, Economics and Environment Program (IDEA), and as part of his sabbatical, shared his principal research findings.
The most important conclusion from the study is that the measures or policies adopted to protect ecosystems and environment can offer benefits for public health. For example, it was proven that the strictly protected Amazon areas can function as a barrier for the transmission of diseases such as malaria.
Pattanayak and his research group focused on studying three diseases: malaria, acute respiratory infections (ARI) and diarrhea, including variables such as climate, demographics, public health services and changes in land use.
During the research, it was determined that the incidence of malaria, ARI and diarrhea were significantly lower close to strictly protected areas, which conserve their biodiversity and restrict the entry of humans. Meanwhile, the incidence of malaria was greater in protected areas considered to be of sustainable use, where people can enter and obtain forest products.
The research was carried out in the Amazon since, according to Pattanayak, science must be conducted in important places for humanity who have scant scientific data. “Science must be made in places where there has been little research in order to build local capacity that helps respond to existing problems. Every year, nearly five million people die in the world from the three diseases that we analyzed,” added Pattanayak.
As a reflection after his research, Pattanayak also called to the scientific community to conduct more research on human health. “The world is not divided in disciplines, nor in crop scientists or economists; we all get sick and we are affected by the environment. This is why it is important to set aside these divisions and work in the same direction to seek human welfare. That is the true challenge. Human health depends on the planet’s health,” he said.
Professor Pattanayak has dedicated his research to issues related to health economics and the evaluation of forest ecosystem services, focusing principally on socially marginal populations and on the examination of policies that are motivated by inequality. Likewise, he is a member of the South Asian Network on Development and Environmental Economics.
Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Incidence
Research in Development, Economics and Environment Program