Water scarcity and intercultural engagement in times of climate change: A political ecology approach in the Bolivian Andes

Authors: Moory Romero*, SUNY ESF College of Environmental Science and Forestry, David Sonnenfeld, SUNY ESF College of Environmental Science and Forestry , Theresa Selfa, SUNY ESF College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America
Keywords: Water governance, political transformation, intercultural engagement, Political Ecology, Bolivia
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change and water scarcity became an urgent topic in La Paz, Bolivia in 2016 when 90 neighborhoods experienced the most severe water shortage in city's history. The shortage apparently resulted from a combination of drought, receding glaciers (climate change) and poor management by the public water authority-- the nexus of nature-society. The country went through a political transformation process, from the Republic of Bolivia to the Plurinational State of Bolivia, a process that initiated in 2009 when the new constitution was promulgated. The objective of this study is to investigate water governance in the context of the intercultural engagement processes during this sociopolitical anti-neoliberal period. My research framework and methodology are rooted in political and cultural ecology. Engagements among multilevel governmental actors and vulnerable indigenous populations of the Aymara nation play an important role in water governance in the Katari river basin of Titicaca Lake. The Aymara are one of 37 nations recognized by the new Bolivia constitution. Yapuchiris are Aymara people who can read climate change signals, or bioindicators, in non-human nature (plant and animal behavior), and they pass this information to those in their community who produce food. Yapuchiris are local agents of climate change adaption, reducing the risks of water scarcity. They have the potential to actively participate in the generation of scientific knowledge. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of climate change cultural adaptation in diverse multicultural contexts for decision makers and communities.

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