Governance and Management of the Upper Acre River in Pando, Bolivia

by Gabriela Stocks

Institution: University of Florida
Department: Anthropology
Year: 2007
Keywords: aquatic, bolivia, collective, cpr, governance, management, pando, riparian, water; Anthropology
Record ID: 1799006
Full text PDF: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021111


Tropical rivers in rural areas are likely to have good water quality, but current trends indicate that increasing development pressures could have a deleterious effect on these water systems. One potential strategy for counteracting these negative impacts is the devolution of watershed management into the hands of local users. However, it cannot simply be assumed that local communities naturally make effective resource managers. A careful examination of the presence or absence of social and institutional characteristics necessary for effective resource management must be carried out. The research presented in my thesis attempts to address this issue at a small scale by focusing on two neighboring Bolivian communities located on the Upper Acre River in the department of Pando. The objective of my research was to determine how these two culturally distinct communities utilize and manage river resources, including riparian areas, and to evaluate whether features favorable to collective action for the protection of these resources exist. Field work was conducted over a 12-week period. Principle methodologies employed included participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and participatory mapping. These methodologies were supplemented by the use of freelisting and Global Positioning System data. The results of my research indicate that neither community makes as extensive use of river resources as might be expected of Amazonian river-dwellers. Water quality in the Acre River was perceived to be poor by most households, and concern was expressed about the health impacts associated with coming into contact with river water. Households were generally conscientious about maintaining riparian buffers when creating agricultural fields near water bodies and expressed a clear understanding of the value of riparian areas. This individual consciousness had not coalesced into formal management rules in either community or between neighboring communities, however, and is unlikely to do so in the future without motivation by outside actors.