Patricio Roque was born in the north of Potosí, and arrived in the Municipality of El Torno in 1971 aged 19. Married to Vicenta Taraña, with 5 children, Patricio is now 66 years old. Patricio works as a famer and raises cattle in the community of Villa Paraiso. He remembers that in 1983, the Pirai River destroyed the bridge from the community of Taruma to El Torno, and the entire area was declared as a red zone. That event was a wakeup call, and made the community aware that if they continued deforesting the foothills of the mountains, rain floods and/or droughts would increasingly affect everyone. “After the 1983 flood”, says Patricio, “it was clear that the forests of the region needed to be conserved to avoid any other disaster”.

The forests of the region needed to be conserved to avoid any other disaster

Watershared and the Reciprocal Water Agreements (RWA) model arrived in the community of Villa Paraíso in 2010. Patricio is now one of the community’s leading guardians of the upstream forests, conserving around 70 ha of forest in the Quebrada Leon watershed. In exchange for watershed conservation, Patricio received supplies to repair the roof of his house. “It was a big help. The house is much better and looks brand new” explains Patricio.

The house is much better and looks brand new

With this RWA experience, many members of the community of Villa Paraiso now appreciate the importance of conservation. They also learned to avoid deforesting, noting that where there is now no vegetation, rainfall washes away soil and sediments, causing floods and landslides. Patricio clearly sees the value of forest conservation: the streams that rise on conservation land have clear water, unlike other neighboring creeks from deforested lands that have murky water. This is best proof possible for Patricio of the value of conserving the watershed upstream of his village. Luckily, in the Andean foothills of this part of Bolivia, more than 115,000 water users are helping farmers like Patricio protect 33,000 hectares of such water-producing forests.

The streams that rise on conservation land have clear water, unlike other neighboring creeks from deforested lands that have murky water