“La Estrella Fluvial” in dispute: Contamination, conflict and community water management in the Macizo Colombiano

Freitag (22. September 2023), 09:00–10:30
SH 3.104
Ann-Kathrin Volmer (Universität Bielefeld; Universität Münster)
This paper offers a comparison between three different cases of community water management inside the Macizo Colombiano ecoregion in Colombia. The methodologic and empiric findings show which difficulties the local communities face within global chance and which coping strategies they develope.
Socio-ecological Conflicts, community water management, Colombia, Political Ecology,


Water is the guiding topic of socio-ecological conflicts in the Andean part of south-west Colombia. Since its unique biophysical conditions allow for a high water storage capacity, the Macizo Colombiano has been declared an ecoregion. The idea of the ecoregion contains political programs which on one hand shall improve the ecosystem services of the region and on the other hand strengthen its sustainable development. The latter also includes extractivist ideas of the use and exploitation of gold and other mineral resources while tolerating the socio-ecological consequences.

In this context, communities are struggling to access clean drinking water due to man-made local and global climate changes and water pollution. They are organizing themselves to improve water access and quality of the households. In this work, I present and compare three case studies of community-based water management. They happen in different places and contexts within the Macizo Colombiano Ecoregion. I will show the details of the local organizations and decision-making regarding the aqueducts and the narratives behind it.

Conceptually, the analysis of the socio-ecological conflicts is located within political ecology. As a result, on the one hand, I offer methodological ideas offering a scheme to compare these cases, sensible to the local differences, but able to capture important points of comparison. On the other hand, I show empirical evidence about the necessities and difficulties of local community water management in south-western Colombia as a coping strategy to climate change and other external influences in the context of the Macizo Colombiano ecoregion.