Guatemala: Partnership for IWRM in the Naranjo river basin (#327)

The lack of laws and regulations, as well as good administration and management, contribute to poor water governance. In the Naranjo river basin, action was taken to implement IWRM after initiatives stemming from individuals with personal conviction of its importance. This has led to the creation of some formal legislation and the process of implementing IWRM. This consequently illustrates the potential important role of individuals in driving policy change. 

This case describes the formulation and participative implementation of municipal water policies as a result of individual and collective conviction of the importance of integrated water resources management (IWRM) to attain social and environmental sustainability. Water policy must be jointly addressed by authorities and citizens, parallel efforts have been made in order to establish the guidelines for promoting its implementation. At the citizen level, partnership originated between 2001 and 2002, with the creation of two associations, followed by the creation of another nine between 2003 - 2005.

This added up to a total of eleven associations in eight municipalities. At the municipal level, the Association of Municipalities of the highlands of the Naranjo River was created in 2003.

Action taken

Since there is no Water Law in place in Guatemala, the members of CADISNA (Communities Associated for the Water, Environment, Integral Development and Infrastructure) through participation with the Water Municipal Tables, have been influential in the formulation of Municipal Water Policies. 

As a result, now local laws exist in some of the municipalities, which place value on the exchange of knowledge and consensus-building in dialogues focusing on rights and duties. Therefore, the Municipal Water Policy is a consensual document dealing with management of water resources, and this document is recognized by the municipal authorities, which reinforce its implementation.

As result of this process, both citizens and authorities have become actively involved in the design of the policies, as well as in the allocation of resources for their implementation. In order to carry out this process, they are mentored by specialized institutions.

Some aspects of this implementation that are brought forth and put into practice by the San Pedro Sacatepéquez and San Marcos Municipal Water Policies are: 

- participative formulation of the plan for solid waste management,
- modernization of the water departments and 
- legalization of the municipal water recharge zone at the first San Pedro Sacatepéquez municipality.

The guidelines established in the water policies, makes feasible for the municipal governments to contribute to tripartite investments for the construction of environmental infrastructure (i.e. gravity potable water systems, rainwater collection for domestic and productive use and treatment plants for liquid waste).

Importance of case to IWRM

The establishment of Municipal Water Policies contributes to the IWRM by creating a mainframe that allows organizations to take on joint tasks for the sustainable management of water resources.

Photo credit: the World Bank