Farmers’ Perceptions of and Adaptations to Water Scarcity in Colombian and Venezuelan Páramos in the Context of Climate Change

  • Citation: David Leroy. “Farmers’ Perceptions of and Adaptations to Water Scarcity in Colombian and Venezuelan Páramos in the Context of Climate Change.” Mountain Research and Development 39, no. 2 (May 1, 2019): R21–R34.
    • Topics:
    • Transnational Issues
    • Keywords:
    • South America
    • water user associations
    • adaptive capacity
    • irrigation agriculture
    • water shortage
    • ecosystem
    • environmental changes
    • high tropical Andes
    • local knowledge
    • local institutions

This study examined how members of 2 water user associations in high-elevation ecosystems in Colombia and Venezuela perceive water scarcity as well as the relationship between their perception of and adaptation to it. Among study participants, adaptation was guided not only by the perception of climate change (disturbance of the seasons, decrease in precipitation, and more extreme temperatures) but also by the perception of the socioeconomic causes of water scarcity (increase in cultivated area and population, aging irrigation infrastructure, system management problems). Farmers in the Venezuelan study site have adopted new and more efficient irrigation technologies, restored degraded infrastructure, and undertaken various actions to preserve and conserve wetlands. In the Colombian study site, farmers created a new irrigation system that draws water from a nearby lake, creating access to an abundant resource. The study shows how perceptions of water scarcity in a climate change context are critical determinants of farmers’ behavior, especially collective adaptation.

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