Friday, October 28, 2005

Watershed services project

The International Institute for Environment and Development's Developing markets for watershed protection services and improved livelihoods, is a three year project sponsored by DFID that aims to promote the maintenance of watershed services that support local livelihoods. Its purpose is to increase understanding of the potential role of market mechanisms in promoting the provision of watershed services for improving livelihoods in developing countries. One component of the project looks at large, semi-arid catchments in South Africa -- facilitation of incentives for improved land management and water quality between water users at Palaborhwa and small-scale farmers located upstream on the Olifants River, and, in the Sabi River, the project is assisting the emerging catchment management authority by examining the potential role of incentives and market-based instruments.

ODMP participants will find some of the emerging lessons familiar:
  • Changing land use that is explicitly pro-poor is a long-term process that exceeds the time frame of a conventional donor funded project
  • Hydrological relationships are still unclear and can be very complex
  • Many of the sites are characterised by complex agricultural systems in which interventions to address either water quality or quantity are not immediately obvious
  • Creating an enabling environment for payments for watershed services cuts across multiple, often sector specific legislation.

The online Flows Bulletin provides news about payments for watershed services.

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