The Regional Water Fund of Southern Ecuador (FORAGUA) represents a model of how municipalities of varying size and capacity can act together to form a single integrated water fund as a mechanism to manage water resources.
Water funds are mechanisms to finance the management of water catchment areas in order to ensure water quality as well as the retention capacity of mountain ecosystems. In doing so, they also conserve biodiversity and other environmental values of these mountain forests, linking water users to the ecosystems that provide the water they depend upon. This system implements a conservation program planned and funded with resources provided by citizens living within the watersheds, and in doing so, builds local capacity and sustainability.
The municipalities that participate in FORAGUA levy fees on water users, which are first aggregated within the FORAGUA trust fund and then used to finance the management and conservation of the municipalities´ watershed forests. Ninety percent of these funds are allocated to the municipalities´ own watersheds; the remaining ten percent is used to fund the operating budget of its Technical Secretariat, which provides oversight and technical assistance to the municipalities. Since FORAGUA was created in 2009, these water fees have generated an average of $388,651 annually to be invested in watershed management and conservation programs.
Water quality results include reduced fecal coliform levels at a local scale, corresponding with a decrease in water treatment costs. Conservation results include 174,028 acres declared as municipal reserves and 37,681 acres purchased to protect and restore the ecosystems that supply water for more than 430,000 people while conserving watershed forests of high biodiversity.
In forming FORAGUA, the participating municipalities have established a common fund, sharing the costs of its operation and management. This enables smaller municipalities to be included in the fund, municipalities that may have important conservation areas but lack the population to generate substantial financial resources that otherwise would be required to implement a water fund mechanism.
|Release Date||July 2015|