Cities and watersheds program
This program seeks to promote the protection and recovery of watersheds that supply water to major cities in Mexico. It promotes the informed participation of all sectors of society, the adoption of a basin approach and the development of co-responsibility between cities and river basins.
Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I.A.P., Fundación Femsa, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma–Heineken de México, US Forest Service,
The Cities and Watersheds Program began in 2001 with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and three projects were established in the north (Saltillo, Coahuila), center (Mexico City valley) and south (Oaxaca, Oaxaca) of Mexico. In view of the success of the projects, in 2005, the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation agreed to fund a second phase of the program and, in 2008, FMCN added the fourth project in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The projects have had a tangible impact on the governance of water resources in the areas where they work. As a result, FMCN is seeking financing to extend the program and include six additional sites.
The central theme of the Cities and Watersheds Program is a relationship between urban areas and the watersheds that supply them with water. As Mexico becomes an increasingly water stressed nation, access to sources of clean and reliable water is critical. The Program is based on the premise that integrated watershed management is the most equitable, sustainable and cost effective manner of ensuring this supply.
Although municipal governments are responsible for providing domestic water services, there are political, technical and temporal obstacles which make it difficult for municipal governments to implement integrated watershed management practices: recharge areas may lie beyond municipal boundaries, municipal authorities may lack the necessary technical expertise and the three-year electoral cycle makes integrated watershed planning difficult. Civil society organizations can play an important role in creating links between cities and the recharge areas that supply them with water. They have the spatial flexibility to work across municipalities and the temporal flexibility to plan and carry out projects beyond the current three-year electoral cycles.
The projects in the Cities and Watersheds program provide examples of civil society organizations that are working to foster the integrated and sustainable management of water recharge areas. The projects work in different parts of the country on five strategic objectives which are:
- to create awareness of the links between cities and their respective recharge areas;
- to establish fora where citizens and decision makers can collaborate to create and implement policies that favor integrated watershed management;
- to establish financial mechanisms to fund integrated watershed management activities and compensate watershed service providers;
- to carry out on-the-ground activities that improve the recharge capacity of the watersheds and the quality of life of the communities living in the recharge areas;
- to exchange experiences and expertise via a Learning Community.
The primary achievements of the program to date are the creation of a voluntary donation scheme via the water bill in Saltillo; the construction of a water commission in the Mexico City valley; the establishment of a revolving fund for water-efficient greenhouses in the outskirts of Oaxaca; and the halting of development projects in recharge areas.
Independent Evaluation of the Watersheds and Cities Project III-2 (2014-2017)
The purpose of this evaluation was to: i) assess the project implementation process, the progress towards achieving the objectives, and the challenges in its implementation; ii) estimate the sustainability of the activities, approaches and structures initiated or supported by the project; iii) obtain lessons learned to date; and iv) use the information obtained as guidance on how best to implement future activities.
Based on the evaluation’s findings and recommendations, FMCN aims to improve the development and implementation of the next phases of the project. The conclusions of the evaluation may also be useful for the Gonzalo Rio Arronte Foundation, I.A.P. in future similar interventions under the context of watershed management and sustainable water management.
Read the evaluation (only available in Spanish): Independent Evaluation of the Watersheds and Cities Project III-2 (2014-2017)
Last updated: December 2018