Panel Reports and Plenaries
Eleven topics were discussed in nine panels during
the workshop (irrigation is included in agriculture and the crosscutting
topics of “migration” and “gender” were discussed together). The
results of these panel discussions and other findings are presented
as conclusions and recommendations to the DWC project. The topics
- Potable water distribution and storage;
- Water, and agriculture and livestock production
- Water and local industry;
- Management of small watersheds;
- Water management and municipal governments;
- Water and health;
- Disaster prevention/mitigation/preparedness;
- Water and tourism; and
- Migration and gender
Potable water distribution and storage: Moderated
by Javier López Medina.
- The Northern sector is the driest
portion of the basin, and drought is felt first and most severe
in this zone.
- Since the Northern Sector is relatively
close to the capital and other population centers around Lake
Nicaragua, the central government is in charge of the administration
of all water supply systems.
- Given this, the siting of wells is decided
upon by ENACAL, the national water and sewer company, together
with members of the community.
- During periods of drought there is rationing
of the water supply.
- Given the dryness of the area and its population
density, forests are depleted. Reforestation of areas that
serve as water sources is slowly being done.
- Given the high population density, permanent
surveillance of water sources and monitoring of water quality
- Cleaning and maintenance of water sources are
- Cisterns are used in areas where the water distribution
system is inadequate.
- As opposed to the Northern sector, in the Southern
sector potable water systems are administered by several different
institutions (municipalities, water associations, etc.).
- Given community involvement in the administration
of water, there is a high degree of participation by civil
society in the care and use of water—especially during times
of drought or flooding.
- Relocate potable water systems for more efficiency
when plans and designs are made for urban renewal and expansion.
- In some municipalities, the water supply office
has a meteorologist on its staff.
- Use tank trucks during drought periods to distribute
- Wells need to be maintained.
- Because of their age, water distribution equipment
such as pipes, valves, and tanks require frequent maintenance
or they can be easily damaged.
- New wells can be drilled to gain additional
- Water sources (springs, creeks) require cleaning.
- Reforestation around, and vigilance/monitoring
of, water sources by the user community.
Agriculture (including irrigation) and livestock
production: Moderated by Alfonso Duarte Valverde.
- Agriculture extension services are increasingly
available in the SJRB.
- Organic agriculture is increasing in the SJRB.
- Household gardens and orchards are increasing
- Subsistence farming rapidly fails when confronted
with climate variability.Small farmers are susceptible to
- Diversification helps to lessen this susceptibility
to climate variability.
- Because of the longer dry period in the Northern
Sector, farmers use seeds adapted to shorter cropping cycles.
- Crops that are more profitable are being planted
over a wider area to reduce pressures made on the land by
- A combination of cultural beliefs and scientific
information is being used to forecast weather (i.e. forecasts
based on animal behavior and moon phases together with statistical
information from the meteorological institute).
- Small agro-forestry projects are being supported.
- Water is used and distributed according to local
customs and traditions.
- There is an increased awareness of the amount
of well water that can be used for irrigation, this is controlled
according to the crop being irrigated.
- During extended periods of drought, livestock
is relocated to wetter zones where there is grass and water.
- Emergency use of water from Lake Nicaragua during
times of drought is possible.
- Producers coordinate adjustments of planting
dates when necessary because of the occurrence of El Niño,
- The Ministry of Agriculture has proposed funds
to pay for irrigation infrastructure, water capture, drip
irrigation, and small-scale irrigation projects that are especially
useful during times of drought.
- Water sources require cleaning and maintenance.
- Carefully evaluate water resources to understand
how they are to be rationed for irrigation purposes.
- Alter planting dates, to take into account official
- Support small and medium producers for the sale
of their produce, especially during critical periods of drought
or extreme flooding.
- Distribute information regarding quality control
on produce, especially for crops affected by drought or flooding.
- Reforestation around water sources is necessary
where the land has been deforested
- Establish water commissions to manage water
use during drought periods.
- Develop small-scale irrigation projects that
can better utilize and conserve water.
Water and local industry (includes cheese
manufacture, slaughterhouses, artisans, sugar cane factories, fruit
- Sale of whey left over from the processing
of cheese and historically discarded, reduces contamination
of water sources.
- Larger industries have their own water wells.
- Industries should build and use oxidation lagoons.
- Industries should maintain facilities to collect
- Municipalities should coordinate studies to
locate water wells including those wanted by industry.
- Industry should support reforestation of areas
around water sources.
Management of small watersheds:
Moderated by Juan Jose Romero.
- Watershed management can help protect sources
of water in terms of quality, quantity, and continuity.
- Watersheds can include both subterranean and
- Watershed management should include training
local populations to monitor, manage, and protect the water
- Watershed management plans should include maps
and other information on all water sources as well as on anything
that may threaten their integrity.
- Watershed management plans must be made with
the participation of those who use the resources.
- Watershed management plans should be indigenous
and not imported.
- Project preparation includes citizen training
in water conservation.
- An inventory of water wells in an area permits
rapid actions before, during, and after an event related to
- Management plans can use digital cartography.
- Watershed management allows use of the best
tools to confront climate variability including maintenance
of vegetation, soil conservation, zoning, and water harvesting.
- Urban and rural planning, regional planning
and watershed management should compliment each other.
- Watershed management planning makes it possible
for the resolution of conflicts between the various uses of
the basins resources. These would include tourism, energy,
potable water, irrigation, industrial uses, etc.
- Develop watershed management plans.
- Form watershed administration committees and
- Apply knowledge (instead of perception) to
solve watershed management problems.
- Apply locally developed models to solve local
watershed management problems.
Water management and municipal governments;
- Municipalities are generally the highest and
closest governmental authority at the local level to manage
and coordinate responses to climate variability.
- Civil participation is now perceived as an important
component of governance at the municipal level.
Water and health:
- Control deforestation through municipal ordinances.
- In conjunction with other water related institutions,
promote introduction of agricultural practices so as to improve
planting and harvest.
- Promote citizen participation as a key factor
in disaster prevention.
- Use water treatment plants.
- Encourage drilling of additional water wells
(for example, in new developments), and ensure that they are
maintained once they are drilled.
- Develop and implement reforestation plans.
- Form water management committees.
- Coordinate municipalities and other institutions
such as the Red Cross, fire fighters, and health workers during
- Organize emergency commissions at the municipal
- Support district and regional level emergency
- Reforest areas that are important for the protection
of water resources.
- Purchase land necessary to guarantee protection
and distribution of water sources.
Disaster prevention/mitigation/preparedness: Moderated by Javier
- Health commissions and disaster units should
be located in all municipalities and have emergency response
programs for prolonged drought, floods and hurricanes.
- Organizations related in any way to the problems
created by climate variability should coordinate their responses.
- Public health and environmental sanitation should
be monitored during periods of climate related emergencies.
- Inventory emergency shelters and supplies in
each community of the SJRB.
- Support permanent training for health staff
and volunteers in emergency response and prevention.
- Use epidemiological monitoring teams.
- Develop fumigation programs to combat disease
- Develop water quality sampling programs for
both urban and rural areas.
- Develop and execute campaigns to spread information
on appropriate responses to emergencies.
- Increase emergency planning at local and community
- Develop plans to coordinate use of water sources
in times of emergency.
- Develop programs to treat post emergency stress.
- National, departmental/provincial, and local
emergency committees and commissions have a presence in the
- The experiences of the 1997-98 El Niño and Hurricane
Mitch (1998) have created incentives to improve emergency
preparedness and organization of response institutions.
- Local Emergency Committees are now often well
equipped (e.g.: radios, vehicles, medical personnel) and integrated
with other emergency response teams.
- Emergency preparation includes warehouses that
contain the necessary supplies including water.
Water and tourism: Moderated by Juan Jose Castro.
- Develop plans to support affected communities
during and after disasters.
- Develop policies for relocation of refugees
to prevent their resettlement in vulnerable areas.
- Include disaster reduction in formal education
programs that cover meteorology.
- Develop a radio network to monitor emergencies
in zones influenced by extreme climatic events.
- Build and maintain warehouses for the storage
of items required in emergencies (e.g.: mattresses, generators,
chainsaws, water containers, etc.).
- Organize local emergency committees that are
proactive and gender balanced.
- Gather relevant information concerning communities
(e.g.: aged, sick, incapacitated; emergency shelters, emergency
sources of water, etc.)
- The relationships between tourism and climate
variability have not been studied in the basin.
- Environmental NGOs, however, have promoted environmental
impact studies of tourism infrastructure and forced increased
vigilance with respect to flooding.
- Adjustments made to climate variability have modified
the traditions that tourists look for when they visit the SJRB
(i.e. replacement of traditional crops with those that are less
susceptable to climate variability).
- Health conditions are important to the tourist;
these conditions are affected by climate variability.
- Environmental management units should consider
climate variability, which affects tourism activities.
- Environmental impact studies, as a part of tourism
project formulation, should include disaster mitigation and
- Educate ecotourism development councils regarding
drought (reduced water use) and flooding (location of tourism
infrastructure) so that potable water sources are protected.
- Train business representatives and tourism personnel
in appropriate emergency preparation and survival procedures
that relate to hurricanes and flooding.
- Develop small-scale family-run tourism related
infrastructure that considers the problems related to climate
variability (i.e. escape routes, water quality monitoring
and protection during flooding and drought, control of trash
and garbage, etc.)
- Support Chambers of Tourism regarding training
and coordinated response to floods and hurricanes.
Migration and Gender: Moderated by Juan
- Migration (Abelardo Morales)
- The SJRB is a zone of both immigration and emigration
as well as a zone where migrants are in transit.
- Migrants in the SJRB can be “internal” or come
from either of the two countries on their way to the other.
- Migration is a result of several phenomena including
social, economic and cultural conditions as well as those
that are climate or disaster related.
- Migration is a long-term problem that will continue
to impact the basin.
- Small farmers are more susceptible to crop loss
and more flexible in their capacity to move. Because of this,
they are likely candidates to migrate in response to problems
created by climate variability.
- Previous migration experience is important and
can generate both positive and negative effects for both the
migrant and the resources of the basin.
- The origin and experience of the migrant influences
her/his thinking towards resource use and conservation.
- Solutions to migration problems should involve
- Gender (Ana Isabel Garcia)
- Little is known about the relationship between
gender and climate variability.
- The objective is to discover how men and women
can work together when confronted with extreme events of climate
variability, as opposed to only studying the role of women
with regards to water management.
- It involves how men and women see themselves
together and how they see each other in their society.
- The roles, attitudes and work of men and women
are different and have cultural roots that show up in how
each reacts to emergencies dictated by climate.
- Although some of their capacities and vulnerabilities
may be the same, men and women also have capacities and vulnerabilities
that are different. This may include how each reacts to the
problems of climate variability.
- Initiatives should be taken to improve the capacity
of each to confront climate variability.
- Where in society men and women stand in terms
of decision-making varies, how decisions are made under different
conditions can also vary.
- Participation of women in decision-making is
important; however, they are at a disadvantage in many communities
where they are not considered full members and, therefore,
where they lack information as well as the support of the
male members of those communities.