Case study: working with the Vulnerability Sourcebook in Chullcu Mayu, Bolivia

The bilateral German-Bolivian Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (PROAGRO) is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and co-financed by Swedish international development cooperation (Sida).

Farmers in Bolivia sowing seeds and watering fields

The programme promotes the implementation of agricultural adaptation measures, including crop diversification and improved irrigation management models for more efficient water use in agriculture. These adaptation measures aim to strengthen smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change, particularly in dry areas of Bolivia, and to enhance productivity and generate better incomes.

Within the context of this programme, in 2013, GIZ conducted a vulnerability assessment using the approach from its new ‘Vulnerability Sourcebook’ in the Andean community of Chullcu Mayu.

Agricultural production in this region is confronted with water scarcity due to erratic rainfall and low efficiency in traditional irrigation systems. Climate projections indicate that water scarcity will probably increase due to climate change. Therefore, the main potential climate change impact is the reduction of the cropping area under optimal irrigation.

Based on quantitative and qualitative data, the vulnerability assessment analysed to which extent climate vulnerability of smallholder farmers was reduced by improving the community’s irrigation system. The assessment focused on the present vulnerability to climate change, considering average climate conditions before (1960-1990) and during (1991-2011) the implementation of the programme. Additional analyses were undertaken to gauge the impact of climate variability on the traditional irrigation system, considering extreme events of lowest and highest precipitation in the past. Moreover, an assessment was made as to how future climate conditions, i.e. trends for 2030 according to a regional climate model, could impact the irrigation System.

The results show that PROAGRO has significantly reduced the vulnerability of smallholder farmers in the community. The programme lowered the climate sensitivity in the system through adjustments in crop types and sowing dates, and enhanced water efficiency in the parcels through new irrigation technologies. Localised irrigation systems increase the area that can be irrigated from the same water source, which has enlarged the land surface under optimal irrigation. Furthermore the programme helped to improve the adaptive capacity of the community by strengthening water user associations, the effective use of resources, as well as access to markets and knowledge.

The assessment has led to a better understanding of the community’s vulnerability, the identification of entry points for additional adaptation measures and the definition of indicators for monitoring and tracking adaptation based on climate impact chains. The impact chains exemplify cause-effect relations in the agricultural system, and they help to raise stakeholders’ awareness of how vulnerable the system is and of the need to adapt.

By Claudia Cordero.


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