Skip to main content

2016-02-19 | project

How resilient are social ecological systems in the face of climate change? Evidence from rural drinking water in Central America


The project will provide a multi-country comparative analysis of Community-based Water Organiszation (CWOs) and their determinants of adaptive capacity and performance based on rich empirical data (i.e. 3 developing countries, 160 CWO and 7,000 households).

Most of the literature of community based management of natural resources and adaptive capacity is based on single case-studies or small sample sizes, limiting the capacity to generalize conclusions or policy recommendations. Second, it incorporates biophysical variables into the analysis. This allows to analyze the interactions between institutional variables and the climatic and environmental conditions to explain performance and adaptive capacity. Much of the literature on community-based management and adaptive capacity has emphasized on the importance of institutional variables but it tends to minimize interactions with environmental conditions. Further, considering biophysical variables will help to understand better if the materialization of certain governance structures for local water management are more likely to appear under certain climatic and environmental conditions.

We will contribute to enhance the existing literature on the performance of community-based water organizations by proving an empirically rich paper that uses data from 160 communities (including 7000 household surveys) from 3 different countries in Central America. In addition, the other means of dissemination of our results will put a clear emphasis on reaching policy makers at different levels of decision: governmental and municipal authorities, community leaders and households. Our aim is to communicate our results in a clear and accessible way in order to maximize the likelihood their use as inputs for improving the design of feasible strategies to overcome adaptation barriers. This will be an important contribution towards securing the human wellbeing in a context where climate change  threatens