290 km to the south of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the Sararenda mountains provide water to almost 30,000 residents of the town of Camiri. The conservation and protection of these forests and watersheds is a priority action to maintain water supplies to the town.
In order to ensure the protection the Sararenda mountain watersheds and ensuring water quality and quantity for Camiri, the Autonomous Municipal Government of Camiri and the Water Cooperative COOPAGAL, have signed an agreement with Natura to develop the “WaterShared” or Reciprocal Water Agreements model in the municipality.
Camiri’s Mayor, Franz Valdéz, and Natura’s Science Director, Huascar Azurduy signed the agreement on October 19th, along with the president, Vice-president and Secretary of the Camiri Town Council. During the act, the Mayor highlighted: “We as ‘Camireños’—more than just authorities—are interested in taking care of our natural resources, such as our rivers, out mountains and our watersheds: this project is very important for watershed conservation”.
Reciprocal Water Agreements (RWA) model (“watershared”) has proven to be a successful conservation scheme to protect watersheds through forest conservation. The success of the RWA is based on its simplicity, where downstream local people contribute money to a local fund, and this money is later translated into productive initiatives that are provided to upstream landowners. This productive initiatives benefit these families by improving their quality of life and their family economy in exchange for them committing to conserve their forests. To date, the RWA have benefited around 3,200 families who are conserving around 178,000 ha of forest in 35 Bolivian municipalities.