An Overview Of Our Solution
- Population Impacted
- Continent: North America
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose
Local threats to resources
Level of sensitivity
Level of adaptive capacity
- Diversified or alternative livelihoods: FONCET aims to diversify coffee production by implementing different projects such as apiculture, palm production, craftwork, and products derived from coffee such as liquor, candies, and jelly. - Improved food security: Farmers are switching from their traditional milpas (corn and beans) practices into shade grown coffee, and also just planting corn and buying beans. FONCET works with farmers to improve milpa productions while improving coffee production as well. Milpa crops represent a more vulnerable practice due to landslides and climate change, so different conservation practices are implemented to reduce this vulnerability so that farmers can grow milpas and coffee at the same time without increasing their landslide vulnerability. Farmers are also using improved seeds which germinate in a shorter period allowing the producer to plant bean seeds before harvesting the corn. - Improved hazard risk management. La Suiza watershed has a landslides risk and vulnerability assessment carried out in coordination with Colorado State University and Colegio de la Frontera Sur students. This assessment has become a guide to prioritize conservation and development projects in the area by taking into consideration the more vulnerable areas and communities within the watershed. An important portion of this study includes a set or recommendations to improve prevention and reaction practices to reduce landslide vulnerability and risk in the area. - Improved use of water resources or other natural ecosystem services: The watershed approach used by FONCET helps consider water as an important cohesive factor within communities. One of the five communities has a water purification plant that supplies drinkable water for the whole watershed. FONCET along with other organizations donated this plant in exchange of community-based actions based on a watershed-based agreement committed to improve ecological and social conditions in the area. Water treatment is the next step in this process, where coffee producers will start implementing water-treatment processes for their coffee. Also a water monitoring has been implemented in several point of the river that flows along the watershed.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit
- Number of farmers using conservation agriculture approach - Number of restored hectares - Monetary resources for PES - Number of water monitoring studies
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit
- Cost of restoration activities (2 millions) ** All costs are in pesos - Cost of conservation agriculture implementation (1 million) - Payment of environmental services for two years(300 thousand)
- Employments generated - Additional income generated - Increased purchasing power
Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit
- Amount destined to restoration activities - Amount destined to conservation agriculture - Amount for PES
What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?
Three years ago, when FONCET started to work in La Suiza watershed the first challenge was to convince people to participate in the projects. Also, coffee is a very demanding activity and it was hard to make people assist to courses and workshops, especially if they were not held in their communities. Now people participate actively, but with new members we face those challenges from the beginning. To deal with these problems, we started working with just few volunteer farmers and the results convinced others to join. FONCET also believe that in order to people to participate is necessary to provide them with knowledge and actions that help them in their daily lives, and show them that climate change is a reality we are all facing and actions are required to cope with its effects. Other key aspect is to work with several organizations, each one expert in their field. Unfortunately, paternalism is a very rooted habit in the communities and especially for older people is difficult to change this attitude, where they expect just to receive money without working or without monitoring the activities. This is a problem that could affect not just this project but many in the country that want to contribute to change this mentality.
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used
FONCET has worked with communities, governmental institutions and local NGO?s to develop comprehensive analysis and solutions to these problems. This work has been based on a watershed management perspective where different communities work together within the same territory (La Suiza watershed). This approach has allowed FONCET to develop comprehensive and regional studies and projects in the area. These efforts include local assessments comprising a landslides risk and vulnerability analysis, a local demographic-environmental-social-economic diagnostic for the different communities, as well as social and technical monitoring tools to measure and report results. The watershed management approach has been a key factor on FONCET?s work. This perspective has allowed different communities to analyze their territory as a whole and not as separate portions of the system. This way of working allows all communities to participate in the decision-making processes and the operation of the projects. Decisions are made from a watershed perspective including all communities and all interests. Its goal is to foster the creation of a community led watershed management committee, allowing members to proactively plan projects that will help them mitigate damage from future storms and assist them in following a sustainable path toward future development. FONCET has created long term relationships with different organizations within the territory. Some of the most important are the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciï¿½n Forestal, Agrï¿½cola y Pecuaria (INIFAP), which is a research and operative based governmental institution devoted to find on the ground solutions for forestry and agriculture concerns throughout the Mexican territory. They have also created partnerships with AMBIO, one of the pioneers in Chiapas for Payment for Ecosystem Services and the measurement of CO2 capture in different ecosystems. They are also partners with universities such as Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) and Colorado State University (CSU) by providing a great academic platform for thesis and research projects within the area. FONCET has also partnered with different national and international funding organizations to ensure the financial sustainability of their programs, such as The Nature Conservancy, USAID, US Fish and Wildlife Service, among others. FONCET has been working in La Suiza watershed since 2009. However FONCET was created in 2002 as a cohesive organism to administrate different projects and funds within the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve. FONCET envisions developing an efficient and integrated watershed management committee that uses systems thinking to plan and make decisions based on the common good of all communities and ecosystems in the micro-watershed. If successful, the project may become a model for a region that has been devastated by hazards. This vision is supported by a set of programs including reforestation practices, and payments for ecosystem services directly related with agricultural practices as well. This mechanism ensures that farmers invest their time and effort in improving their own crops by improving at the same time the ecosystems on which their livelihoods depend. Water is recognized as a vital link within communities, creating a sense of responsibility between these communities in the search for a more productive, safe and healthy region.
Climate hazard of concern
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?
Coffee producers in La Suiza watershed are fully aware of the ecological and economical advantages of shade-grown coffee. This kind of production contributes to diminishing significantly landslides risk in steep areas, since vegetation cover helps creating and manintaing soil stability. At a social level the implementation of inter-communities agreements to work from a watershed perspective has contributed to create social and long-term mechanisms to cope with weather variations. This social capital is a powerful tool to adapt and reduce vulnerability.
How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?
People in the communities are moving their crops located nearby water sources to other areas so their water supply is protected from pollutants. In one community, the ejidal assembly which is the maximum authority in the ejido, decided to indemnify a woman that was cultivating near the community water source, giving her a piece of land in another area, so their water source is free of human activities. FONCET is also working with the people showing them the risks of planting coffee or milpa in the steepest areas, thus protecting the forests in those areas.
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?
All actions in La Suiza watershed are intended to reduce climate hazards and to protect communities from their effects. Several actions have been implemented such living barriers, rock filtration dams, geotextile dams, restoration with native plants, conservation agriculture, forest conservation through payments for environmental services, and gabion walls among others, all with the intention of conserving the soil reducing the risk of landslides and making the communities less vulnerable during tropical storms and hurricanes. Knowledge and capacity building is also a key factor in the FONCET?S initiative in La Suiza watershed, because people are now aware of climate change and its effects in their everyday activities, and participate actively in the adaptation projects.
How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?
As mentioned above, capacity building, watershed approach, and the active participation of people in the activities of FONCET?s projects reduce the extent on which communities are affected by climate conditions. For example, they are establishing their crops in the less steep areas, protecting their water sources, implementing good agricultural practices, conserving their forests, and diversifying their income through other activities.
How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?
The active and enthusiastic participation of the inhabitants of La Suiza watershed in capacity building workshops, soil conservation activities, conservation agriculture, MIAF systems (maize and fruit trees planted together), ecological restoration, community surveillance of forests designated for the provision of environmental services, water monitoring, the creation of the community led watershed management committee, environmental education actions, and other actions have increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes.
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
Of course this project/solution can be replicated; indeed it has been replicated in two other watersheds in Chiapas. The success depends on three main factors: it is crucial to have a demographic-environmental-social-economic diagnostic of the community, a landslides risk and vulnerability analysis, and trained people. This solution is innovative because it involves people from the beginning; it is based in their needs, and all the solutions and activities are implemented through consensus and agreements with them. Besides no one is forced to participate, all work is voluntary and people join the project when they see the results.