Case Studies:

Cuencas Andinas : Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Cuencas Andinas: Sustainable Land Use in Andean Watersheds.

See cases of Colombia ( Fuquene ), Ecuador ( Ambato ) and Peru ( Alto Mayo ) for details


Cuencas Andinas is a German Government (GTZ) funded project aiming to promote sustainable land use in fifteen watersheds in the Andean region of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, through the creation of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) schemes and other innovative management initiatives. The project will run for eight years and for the first stage (2003-2006) the objectives are to improve water management plans and implement PES schemes as a new institutional arrangement to manage the watersheds. The target groups are the technical and managing staff of the municipalities, local projects and NGOs, and the local communities.

Maturity of the initiative

Activities began in 2003. The projects where development of PES schemes is most far advanced are Fuquene (Colombia), Ambato (Ecuador) and Alto Mayo (Peru)


This is a cooperation agreement between the German Government (GTZ) and the International Potato Center (CIP). The implementing agencies are CONDESAN (Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion), REDCAPA (Latin American Network for Capacity building on Agricultural Economics and Policy) and GTZ.



The project involves an initial physical and institutional assessment of the watershed, economic valuation of externalities and strategies to engage users in their internalization; in addition the project also aims to support political dialogue, dissemination of knowledge (for example though a regular electronic newsletter that informs on progress at each site) and capacity building. Currently, only three of the sites are already implementing the payment scheme, while the others are still at the initial preparation stage.

One of the criteria to determine which watersheds to select was the presence of externalities and the possibility of creating strategic alliances with organizations working in the watersheds. These are:

  • Colombia : Laguna de Fuquene (GTZ), La Miel (CONDESAN) and Afluentes del Cauca (CONDESAN)
  • Ecuador : Ambato (GTZ) and Río ""El Ángel"" (CONDESAN)
  • Perú : Alto Mayo (GTZ), Piura (GTZ), Jequetepeque (CONDESAN) and Arequipa (GTZ)


The general guidelines for area selection mean that externalities must exist. Each case study has identified their potential downstream users although in some cases it is still unclear how they will work together. See individual cases for details.




CONDESAN, the German government of the GTZ, REDCAPA (Latin American Network for Capacity building on Agricultural Economics and Policy), CIP.

Market design


See individual case profiles.


See individual case profiles.

Payment mechanism

See individual case profiles.

Type of payment

See individual case profiles.

Funds involved

See individual case profiles.

Analysis of costs and benefits

See individual case profiles.

Legislation Issues

See individual case profiles.


See individual case profiles.

Main Constraints

See individual case profiles.

Main policy lessons

CONDESAN's initiatives are interesting because they are trying to overcome the "anti-market" concerns associated with the term “payments for watershed services” . The areas where they work are poor and water is scarce. An interesting point is also the process by which PES is developing, and how it is helping to move the debate among stakeholders from a narrow focus on water towards a more holistic response to the watershed problems.

Other information

Cuencas Andinas publishes a regular newsletter sharing information on the progress in each site. available at (in spanish)


Cuencas Andinas: ; Fernando Aspajo:
(other potential contacts)
Dr. Rubén Darío Estrada: Responsible for the CONDESAN project.
Dr. Héctor Cisneros: CONDESAN coordinator.
Dr. Alonso Moreno: Main consultant - GTZ.
Sr. Wessel Eykman: Director of REDCAPA.


On-line information from links below and personal communication with Marina Kosmus.


Cuencas Andinas website:

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