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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

COMPANDES project closes having delivered capacity for better benefit sharing in Andean basins



COMPANDES was a three year project on understanding mechanisms for benefit sharing to improve productivity and reduce conflicts for water in the Andes.  Our work has helped develop data and tools that have empowered communities in the Andes to better understand, negotiate and manage their water resources through benefit sharing mechanisms.

The project (a collaboration between King’s College London, WWF-Colombia, The Stockholm Environment Institute (US-Centre) the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and the National University of Colombia), was funded by the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food (phase II) in response to the Andes Basin Development Challenge: To increase water productivity and reduce water-related conflict through the establishment of equitable Benefit-sharing Mechanisms.

Benefit sharing mechanisms are negotiated agreements between stakeholders on how the benefits from water use in a basin will be managed and shared

Our focus was on on designing and implementing benefit sharing mechanisms.bienestar

The work was managed adaptively in response to stakeholder needs and was carried out at the entire northern Andes scale and in selected catchments in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The project involved the following key activities:

(a) To better define the concept for benefit sharing mechanisms (BSM) implemented in the Andes, review the kinds of mechanisms in existence in the region;

(b) To analyse which BSM are likely to work where across the Andes both from a biophysical and an institutional perspective

(c) To analyse processes for negotiation of BSM including the analysis of actors, gender considerations, a legal and political process for negotiation (the Citizen Action Discussion o Conversatorios de Acción Ciudadana – CAC), a coupled social and technical process to the development of hydro-literacy for capacity building in negotiation and considerations for the monitoring and evaluation of BSM, once operational.

(d) The implementation of specific case studies on the design and implementation of BSM throughout the Andes, in the Coello-Combeima (Colombia), Alto la Paz (Bolivia), Daule (Ecuador), Santa (Peru), and in hydropower projects.

(e) The development and application of a generic negotiation support system (NSS) incorporating a negotiation process, the development of hydro-literacy through the application of locally relevant data policy support and water management tools and a review and feedback process to facilitate consensus

(f) An analysis of the sustainability of BSM in the face of exogeneous and endogeneous threats to their operation and/or the receipt of expected benefits

(g) An analysis of the role of BSM in the sustainability of water-for-food in the Andes and elsewhere

Key COMPANDES Messages

  1. Benefit sharing mechanisms are dependent on the balance of power relationships between competing parties. Thus, an important step to reduce these asymmetries includes the deployment of a common platform for shared hydrological knowledge and the development and enforcement of clear regulatory frameworks based on locally relevant hydrological science and locally acceptable management practice.
  2. Local stakeholders who are trained and active in the understanding of water and social processes, in the use of tools to anticipate impacts of interventions and who are strongly linked with the needs of the less favoured population in basins are critical to reducing poverty and protecting the environment through their role in the development and implementation of benefit sharing mechanisms.
  3.  Benefit sharing mechanisms are a process that requires a close collaboration between partners often over a period of 3 to 5 years during their negotiation and implementation phase alone.  They must be implemented on the basis of hydrological understanding and evidence of the likely impact of the proposed interventions on hydrological response in the target catchment – and this requires detailed data and understanding. They then need to be supported by evidence that the management interventions made (and being paid for) are having positive outcomes for the beneficiaries concerned.  This is a significant challenge which is not to be taken for granted.  They are no silver bullet and in many cases are not the best tool.
  4.  Benefit sharing mechanisms are not a mechanical or single solution but a range of options for change that incorporate the key principles of equity, adaptive and knowledge-led management to achieve specific benefits for specific beneficiaries and negotiated solutions.
  5. Benefit sharing mechanisms must adapt to changing circumstances including those posed by climate variability and change and changing socio-economic conditions
Figure 1 The Conversatorio de Acción Ciudadana as supported by the COMPANDES  Negotiation Support System

Figure 1 The Conversatorio de Acción Ciudadana as supported by the COMPANDES Negotiation Support System


  • A consolidated negotiation support system (NSS) for use in a wide range of decision making problems (within and outside the Andes basins) and which includes a policy support system (PSS), AguAAndes/WaterWorld, which solves many of the fundamental constraints of access to information, reducing the barriers to carrying out sophisticated hydrological  analysis and scenario building.  The PSS is a tool but the negotiation support system (NSS) is a process, which incorporates an information and  negotiation cycle for the negotiation of BSM. Furthermore, the NSS brings together WEAP and WaterWorld in order to focus on water allocation as well as supply.  The NSS can be used at scales from national (for prioritisation,) to local for analysis of a specific BSM (see Daule water fund case and Bolivia case).
  • Local organizations and key partners trained in the use of hydrological data/ analytical tools and key regulatory and social resources and mechanisms for environmental management in their basins of interest. 59 institutions were involved,  31 national organizations, 15 international organizations and 3 private sector actors.  More than 226 people in total were trained.
  • These empowered people are now running local processes for water benefit sharing projects linked with independent local and regional initiatives (for example The Nature Conservancy’s water funds, and the Ministry of Environment (MMyA) in Bolivia through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience PPCR process), keeping the momentum and ensuring the sustainability of project and program investments.
  • A series of published papers in well-known international journals compiling information on the processes (methods), findings (results) and outputs (impact) o the project.
  • Specific agreements associated with BSM made and signed  between organised community groups and local, regional and national governmental institutions in the Coello Basin, Colombia, e.g. Instituto Alexander Von Humboldt and Parques Naturales Nacionales.
Figure 2 The COMPANDES  Negotiation Support System

Figure 2 The COMPANDES Negotiation Support System

The project closes having worked in many basins, with hundreds of stakeholders, trained 226 people in the use of negotiation support tools, supported legal agreements between communities,  produced 18 publications and supported 11 undergraduate, masters and PhD students.

Further details of our work can be found in the project final technical report, the final report and associated publications and the CPWF website.


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