- A principal problem in the drier parts
of the SJRB is that a lack of catchment tanks causes a large loss
Financial resources for maintenance
of water distribution systems are scarce and the problem is
caused in large part by the non-payment of water bills.
There is fear that water rights will
be privatized. The problem arises because some landowners have
springs that they share with neighbors. With new privatization
laws, these springs must be registered or they pass into the
Some citizens say that there is inadequate
management of the water resource and that the water committee
and the municipality do not take its supply and distribution
seriously enough, thus forcing them to get water from sources
that are historically unsanitary or to go elsewhere for their
Recently established communities have
been sited on land higher in elevation than the potable water
storage tanks and the pumping system is inadequate to get water
Current demand for water was not anticipated
when older water systems were built.
Non-governmental organizations say
that an impartial analysis is necessary to say what the impact
of deforestation, reforestation and hydroelectric projects is.
There is a negative perception of
government organizations by many NGOs that are active in the
NGOs accuse government agencies of
blocking civil society participation watershed management.
- Housing and other buildings, and transportation
infrastructure have been built in flood plains, thus making them
more susceptible to damage by floods, and worsening flood because
they divert water from its normal course.
Information of a local nature concerning
specific areas and activities threatened by drought, flooding,
and hurricanes, is not sufficient to reduce that threat.
Not all municipalities and communities
have active, in-place emergency plans.
Despite campaigns to keep rivers,
streams and other water sources free of trash, garbage, dead
animals and other contaminants such as pesticides and industrial
chemicals, water quality in many parts of the SJRB remains poor.
Sources of these contaminants are
official and unofficial dumps, and poor storage and application
practices for pesticides and fertilizers.
- Not all livestock owners have the capacity
to move their animals to better pastures during times of drought.
Recommendations to PROCUENCA-SAN JUAN
Directly or indirectly, many of the problems
cited above are already on the agenda of PROCUENCA-SAN JUAN. For
instance, integrated, participatory planning for the sustainable
use and conservation of resources in the SJRB is one of the best,
if not the only, way to confront many of the issues just mentioned.
That process should be continued at the sub-basin level as well.
Certainly, such planning is a beginning in any effort to solve
the problems of the rural poor. And, since indications are that
migration is as much of a way to cope with the problems of poverty
and inequity as it is to cope with climate variability, integrated
participatory development planning is also of use here.
Activities to deal with many of the specific
problems can be made through a continuation of the model of workshops
and demonstration projects that is so important to the work of
PROCUENCA-SAN JUAN. Creating and supporting partnerships with
government agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses
and associations of producers are other means by which the above-mentioned
problem can be treated. For example, work with the National Emergency
Commission of Costa Rica and the National Emergency System for
Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Relief in Nicaragua in their
efforts to establish, organize and support functioning local and
communal emergency committees also requires work with nearly all
other institutions in the community. Work of this nature can catalyze
cross-border cooperation at the local, regional (provincial-departmental),
and national levels.
PROCUENCA-SAN JUAN is also investigating the
role of gender in the sustainability of development in the SJRB;
that work is important when the topic is how to respond better
to emergencies initiated by extreme climate variability. Women
and men are affected differently by disasters and disaster mitigation
needs to be sensitive to these differences. Similarly, because
of culture history, habits, and daily concerns, as well as genetic
make-up men and women respond differently to emergencies. Much
can be learned of a positive nature by analyzing those responses
and PROCUENCA-SAN JUAN should guide that effort.
Recommendations to the Governments of Costa
Rica and Nicaragua
The implementing agencies of the two governments
have progressed substantially in their responses to the emergencies
created by extreme climate variability. To a very large degree,
much of this progress is directly dependent on the manner and
degree to which the various agenciesóeach with different and often
conflicting and/or competing mandatesócooperate and coordinate
with one another during times of crisis. The clarity and comprehensiveness
of overarching government policy is key to the success of cooperative
efforts among government agencies as they seek to fulfill their
For many reasons, including population growth,
the fact that the SJRB is a transboundary basin, and the evolving
needs both within the basin and elsewhere in the two nations,
existing policy will need to be adjusted and new policy initiatives
will need to be put forth. For example, the economic, social,
cultural and security needs of the populations of the SJRB were
previously supported almost entirely by the natural goods and
services of the basin. Quality water was freely and abundantly
available as were land and construction material. Nature supplied
a disposal service for all kinds of refuse and contaminants. How
and how rapidly these natural services are replaced with human
managed services will depend upon governance processes based on
wise policy. In the matter of coping with climate variability,
policy initiatives will be required in at least the following
- Proper management of solid waste and other
sanitary needs within the SJRB.
- Technical support to information and education
campaigns regarding best practices for coping with climate variability
and its influence on water quantity and quality.
- Promotion of hygienic measures as the situation
- Mobilization of national and external resources
to facilitate development of the drinking water and sanitation
sector possibly through privatization of important components
of the process.
- National reform and modernization of the
drinking water and sanitation sector including mobilization
of national and international resources.
- Development and promotion of low-cost technologies,
particularly for the more vulnerable populations of rural and
marginal urban areas.
- Establishment of quality control criteria
and standards for drinking water supply, and monitoring by relevant
- Codification and zoning authority for the
supply and treatment of water that is not endangered by flooding
- Development of human resources for the health
- Incentives to increase community participation
in water and sanitation, especially in rural and marginal urban