Nexus Cumbaza

by David Sabogal  (ELP 2017) | Project Coordinator/Manager, Global Canopy Programme, Peru

In the upper fringes of the Cumbaza watershed in the Peruvian Amazon, Roberto summons the village council to discuss the latest news concerning land invasions encroaching on their communal forest territories, the last primary forests found in the watershed. A few miles away, Tanitani, accompanied by her eldest son, is walking towards her newly cleared plot to collect firewood and inspect her planted crops. While clearly worried about the repercussion this clearing is having among local authorities and nearby indigenous communities, Tanitani, a newly arrived Andean migrant, is hopeful that this new plot will provide a better harvest and generate the income she desperately needs. Further downstream, in the urban centre of Tarapoto - the third largest in the Peruvian Amazon, Carlos opens the tap at home to discover yet again that the water has been cut. While rains have recently fallen, water restrictions have been imposed by the public services company as a result of increased sedimentation levels linked to recent upstream deforestation. This is also affecting water intensive rice production found in the surrounding urban area.

The reality of Roberto, Tanitani and Carlos are examples of the complex and sometimes conflictive interactions and interdependencies found across rural and urban landscapes in Amazonian. Such realities also highlight the need for integrated approaches that can take into account and address multiples interests and needs found in increasingly dynamic forest regions while guaranteeing the preservation of key forest ecosystems services.

As the pressures on forest resources increase, important trade-offs and risk in achieving water, energy and food security will become increasingly apparent. By recycling rainfall, purifying and regulating water flows, tropical forests provide important ecosystem services that underpin water security, agricultural production and key energy sources. Climate change and climate extremes will multiply the risks and pressures on these resource and consequently on efforts to maintain water, energy and food security.

The water-energy-food (WEF) nexus has in recent years been promoted as a useful approach for recognizing the links between water, energy and food systems and their reliance on natural resources. Such a framework can be important for evaluating the interdependencies, trade-offs and risks in the use, availability and management of natural resource across sectors and actors under different land use and climate change pressures. Applying such an analysis can inform the elaboration and adoption of integrated resource management and climate-risk mitigation strategies, actions and measures to improve water, energy and food security.

In the Cumbaza watershed, this framework is being applied to generate a more comprehensive understanding of resource flows and interdependencies. This knowledge base will be paramount in designing and implementing more appropriate interventions and resource governance strategies that can attend to the needs of people like Roberto, Tanitati and Carlos.

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