Case Studies:

Colombia- Campoalegre

Compoalegre Users Association - land acquisition


The aim of this initiative was to acquire f private land in the upper catchments for reforestation and protection, drawing on pooled contributions from water users organized into a Water Users Association. The project which ended in 2001 did succeed in buying and reforesting the land, but with donor funds rather than with contributions from water users. . As the effect of the land purchase is to remove the distinction between the supplier and buyer of environmental services and hence the externality, this initiative does not meet the key criteria for PES It is therefore not included in the analysis of market-based initiatives. However, it is still an interesting local project for watershed protection.

Maturity of the initiative

Proposal analysed in Silver Bullet, implemented and ended in 2001.


The main driver of this initiative was increasing water scarcity, due to growing demand (between 1988 and 1996, “demand for water for both domestic and productive use more than doubled from 120 to 336 users) ,unauthorised connections and limited regulations for water use. Tree cutting and loss of vegetation cover is believed to threaten the environment of the entire watershed. (Gomez and Rojas, no date). The availability of donor funding was a key factor.



One private landowner (seller) in the La Quebrada El Choco river basin.


Farmers and drinking water users from the village of Campoalegre (1500 inhabitants) and other seven local villages.


Water users association (intermediary).



Market design


Water flow regulation (aimed at the maintenance or increase of water quantity).


Acquisition of upstream land for reforestation and protection.

Payment mechanism

Intermediary-based transaction (users association). Initially the goal was for the association to collect funds to be invested in purchasing private land. However, in the end, this was done through donor funding. We have not been able to learn why was this not done through contributions, nor if there is an intention to continue trying to get users to finance the measures being led by the water users associations.

Type of payment

One-off land purchase.

Funds involved

Donor funds through the Community Management Plan funded by the IRC (International Water and Sanitation Centre- The Netherlands).

Analysis of costs and benefits


No information.


Construction of a treatment plant; land purchased for reforestation and protection; by-laws to make sustainable use of water in the watershed; creation of a tree nursery and a tree-planting campaign.


Improved social capital: "Following problem-cause analysis, experimental solutions were designed and implemented in all villages over a two-year period. The approach focused on respecting the renewal capacity of water resources, maintaining watershed ownership and management close to users and consensus-built solutions to manage water resources and the watershed." (Gomez and Rojas)

Legislation Issues

No information available.


No information available.

Main Constraints

No information available.

Main policy lessons

Other information


Johnny Rojas of CINARA: ;


Abbot et al (eds.) 1999 Community water management - PLA Notes participatory learning and action. London, IIED.

Gomez, C. and Rojas A. (no date) Colombia: Participatory Management of Watershed at La Quebrada El Chocho. Examples of practical implementation of Integrated Watershed Resource Management, case study no.76. Global Water Partnership Tool Box for Integrated Water Resources Management. Electronic citation last accessed June 2006


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