Experiences in integrated management of natural resources in the sub-watershed of the Chimbo River, Ecuador
Barrera, Victor H.
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As is typical of many rural areas in developing countries, the Andean region of Ecuador is characterized by extreme poverty, owing to low agricultural productivity, limited human skills in business management and implementation of production technologies as well as lack of access to product, input, and capital markets. Compounding the situation, high poverty indices occur together with the degradation of natural resources, infant malnutrition, social inequity, and a downward development spiral. Communities in these areas produce various food crops, however, these production activities degrade soil and water resources and contribute to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. This article summarizes and describes a process of adaptive watershed management which contributes to sustainable development in the Chimbo River sub-watershed. The process begins with technical studies of the state of soil resources, water, and biodiversity in the sub-watershed with the intent of designing a plan to modify production systems by incorporating more environmentally friendly practices. Challenges for watershed management are described. The conceptual framework, empirical strategy, and final results are presented which show how implementation of better practices for natural resource management and food production contribute to reducing environmental vulnerability and improvement in the welfare of local farm families in the watershed.
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