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Adapting Community-Based Water Supply in Central America to a Changing Climate

In Central America, nearly 24,000 community-based organizations supply drinking water to rural and peri-urban residents. By delivering potable water, these organizations improve the health and welfare of millions, and play a key role in local economic development. Climate change in the region is resulting in higher temperatures and longer periods of drought. Cities are growing rapidly, increasing the demand for water. These changes decrease the ability of community-level water supply organizations to meet demand because stable water sources are threatened. This research project will study the effects of climate change on water availability in Central America. Researchers will investigate how community-based water organizations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica are adapting to the changes. They will also: -assess how water suppliers can adapt their practices to safeguard water -inform climate change adaptation policies for community-based water supply organizations -map the impact of climate change to define key areas of study at the regional level -identify and evaluate the factors that help these organizations adapt to extreme precipitation and droughts -assess the incentives and restrictions that influence decisions to invest in climate change adaptation actions -develop design guidelines and criteria to help prioritize climate change adaptation investments -build local capacities through training courses -disseminate results at the local, national, and international levels. This research will help support community-based drinking water organizations, which are generally small, nimble, and able to respond to priority needs more effectively than larger utilities in Central America. Case analysis from Costa Rica will be used to assess useful adaptation options. Using this analysis as a base, the team will conduct a survey of households and water providers from all three countries and focus on assessing the costs and benefits of different adaptation measures. The results are expected to help improve decision-making and better guide private and public adaptation investments to secure water supply for rural and peri-urban residents.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
36 months
IDRC Officer
Walter Ubal
Total Funding
CA$ 1,477,900.00
Costa Rica
Climate Change
Institution Country
Costa Rica
Project Leader
Dr. Francisco Alpizar
Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza/Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center



Future climate change scenarios in Central America at high spatial resolution