WateR security And climate cHange adaptation in PerUvian glacier-fed river basins (RAHU)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering

Abstract

The anticipated impacts of climate-change induced glacier shrinkage on the water security of mountains and downstream lowlands is a major global concern. However, the connections between climate change, glacier shrinkage, water security and local adaptive capacity are multi-dimensional and non-linear. In many regions of the world including Peru, the physical and human processes that govern them are poorly understood. Therefore, understanding these process, their impacts and implementing adequate science-based adaptation strategies requires an interdisciplinary approach. This approach should combine advancing the state-of-the-art of glaciological and hydrological process understanding, with new insights in current and future levels of water security, human vulnerability, and adaptive capacity.

We propose to address this challenge by developing an integrated glacier - water security assessment model to transform our understanding of the impact of glacier shrinkage on water security and to inform policy practices in Peru. We identify the lack of glaciological, hydro-climatological, and water resources data as a major bottleneck to achieve this. Therefore, we propose participatory water resources monitoring as a radically new approach to transform our knowledge of physical processes, constraining water resources models, and supporting evidence-based policy-making.

We have assembled a world-leading consortium that combines high-level expertise in field monitoring and computer simulation of glaciers and water resources in Peru, with pioneers of participatory data collection for sustainable development and policy-support. This consortium is ideally placed to generate a breakthrough in data availability on the link between glacier reduction and current and future water security. This is needed to build the next generation of glaciological and hydrological models that can support the design and implementation of adequate climate adaptation strategies.

We will use the Vilcanota-Urubamba Basin in southern Peru as our case study. This basin hosts the largest tropical ice cap (Quelccaya) and it is characterised by a very complex water management context and high data scarcity. Our project will follow a "source to tap" paradigm, in which we will deliver the first fully integrated water resources vulnerability assessment framework for glacier-fed basins, comprising state-of-the-art glaciology, hydrology, water demand characterisation, and water security assessment. We will design targeted glacio-hydrological and water resources monitoring campaigns, to complemented existing monitoring efforts of our project partners and collaborators, and new remotely sensed data sets. This campaign will be implemented using the principles and tools of participatory monitoring and knowledge co-creation that our team has pioneered in the tropical Andes.

The datasets produced by this approach, combined with existing monitoring implemented by our team and collaborators, will allow us to build an integrated water supply-demand-vulnerability assessment model for glacierized basins, and to use this to evaluate adaptation strategies at the local scale.

For the latter, we have engaged with a set of policy stakeholders in Peru that play a key role in the implementation of recent transformative legislation on Peruvian water resources management, and in particular in the new law on the implementation of water funds to invest in catchment interventions (Law 30215).

Working directly with these stakeholders will ensure that our approach focuses on locally relevant adaptation strategies, including novel approaches such as the use of nature-based solutions and the restoration of ancestral water "seeding and harvesting practices", thus providing both the scientific basis and the operational tools that support the implementation of this legal framework.

Planned Impact

This proposal has a very specific impact-creation context. We target the implementation of 3 recent Peruvian laws, i.e. Law 29388 (2009) on the incorporation of IWRM strategies in water resources management, Law 30045 (2013) on the modernization of water and sanitation services, and Law 30215 (2014) on the implementation of benefit sharing mechanisms for ecosystem services.

These laws have had profound impact on the operational water management sector in Peru, and promote the establishment of water funds, which finance active catchment interventions to improve the availability and quality of water resources. In this proposal, we have teamed up with key national and local policymakers that are involved in this operationalization, to ensure an optimal relevance and knowledge-transfer. In particular we will work closely with the following project partners to deliver our impact strategy:

- The National Drinking Water and Sanitation Regulating Agency of Peru (SUNASS), which coordinates and supports the establishment of the water funds by the water supply companies;

- The Peruvian National Water Authority (ANA), which is the main executive government institute concerned with water resources;

- The Regional Council for Climate Change of the Regional Government of Cusco (CORECC-Cusco), which is responsible for the delivery of local climate change adaptation strategies in our study region.

In addition, a major element of our strategy to upscale these activities to a national and international level is our collaboration with the recently funded project on "Natural Infrastructure for Water Security in Peru (NIWS)", which is co-financed by USAID and the Canadian Government. The project will run from 2018 - 2022 and is led by the NGO Forest Trends. This strategic collaborations will be a powerful catalyst for impact creation, allowing us to reach out to a larger number of stakeholders, replicate training, and achieve a stronger legacy beyond the lifetime of the project than would otherwise be possible.

We plan the following specific activities to achieve this impact:

- Making availability of data sets, products and code

We will work directly with the glacier and hydrological monitoring teams of our project partners SUNASS, SENAMHI and ANA to ensure that the developed algorithms are compatible with their operational systems and can be readily integrated. Buytaert has a track record of doing so with SENAMHI, for instance for the development of the national PISCO precipitation data set. In addition, we will make all data and code available in the public domain.

- Training activities

Making available the data and computer code will be accompanied by relevant training events, in these institutes. Again, several investigators including Buytaert and Drenkhan have a proven track record of delivering professional hydrological training in Spanish. These events will be supported by technical specifications and briefs to inform technical audiences in Peru. A previous example of such brief is the iMHEA monitoring protocol developed by Imperial and CONDESAN.

- Participation in policy events and policy support

The strategic link with the USAID-funded NIWS project will allow us to provide direct scientific input in operational policy. To facilitate this, we will attend relevant events, provide scientific support to policy documents, tools, and legislative frameworks developed by NIWS. In addition, we plan 2 policy events at the end of the project, of which 1 in Lima and 1 in Cusco.

- Replication beyond Peru

Our consortium has strong links to international policy through long-standing collaborations with UNESCO IHP, the Andean Community of Nations, and several regional actors. We will leverage this network to create international impact, e.g., through UNESCO-facilitated policy briefs and workshops.
 
Description Current key findings of the project include:
- Our hydrological risk assessment confirms that the upper Vilcanota-Urubamba basin where considerable meltwater contribution to river streamflow overlaps with low population density, high hazard potential, very high human vulnerabilities combined with very low human exposure lead to relatively low overall risk potential. Contrastingly, in the middle basin considerable meltwater contribution and water withdrawals with highly exposed people and high vulnerabilities in densely populated areas prevail with high overall risk potential; this analysis shows the importance of taking into account the interplay of climate-related hazards and human vulnerabilities and exposure to understand spatiotemporal occurrence and differences of risk potentials within an integrated assessment
- Our analysis of combined remote sensing data and in-situ measurements confirm high seasonal variability of high-Andean wetlands (bofedales) with distinct wetting and drying regimes indicating a strong relationship between wetland area extent and water table levels
- Identification of hydrological benefits for implementing nature-based solutions (NbS) to counteract increasing water scarcity is hampered by limited evidence on the specific underlying hydrological processes. The recently developed conceptual model of the hydrological impacts of NbS allows us to analyse key drivers and processes to leverage decision-making on best practices for implementing different NbS intervention types locally
- There is large potential and interest among key stakeholders including local researchers, practitioners and decision makers to extend hydrometeorological monitoring networks using low-cost technology (e.g. arduino) in the Vilcanota-Urubamba basin, and there is high demand for more capacity programs covering the construction, installation and use of low-cost sensors and associated data analysis
- Following research needs to continue data collections strategies (including citizen science approaches, low-cost sensor networks, community workshops) to address improved estimates of water demand, river flow and subsurface flowpath interactions, to project future hotspots of water risks to water scarcity and inform transformational adaptation strategies;
- An important question thereby is whether future magnitude of water risks will be driven predominantly by climate change impacts driving meltwater reductions or by socioeconomic effects on exposure and vulnerabilities in downstream areas or both.
Exploitation Route Datasets, models, and model outputs will be available in the public domain for future research activities.
Sectors Environment

 
Description Collaboration on joint publication of the UNESCO-RAHU policy event "Strategies to increase water availability and efficiency improvements in Latin America and the Caribbean". RAHU provided scientific advice for the publication of the policy event proceedings which will be published by UNESCO-IHP in April 2021 (series identificator: SC-2020/PHI-LAC/43).
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Community, stakeholder and research training workshops for water resource monitoring and management
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Incorporation into water monitoring network 'iMHEA' 
Organisation CONDESAN
Country Peru 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Support of the Andean monitoring network iMHEA as part of the Executive Board and as organizing committee of online events and dissemination of the network's data and information. Establishment of a new monitoring site in the Upper Vilcanota basin (Cusco, Southern Peru) which comprises glacier, wetland and river hydrology sensor measurements and is currently been included as official site into iMHEA.
Collaborator Contribution Technical and informatics support for the establishment of the new monitoring site in the Upper Vilcanota basin and long-term inclusion into the iMHEA network.
Impact Data baseline of 5 arduino wetland subsurface flow sensors, 5 arduinos/Solinst river flow sensors and 7 precipitation gauges installed between 2019 and 2022 which will later be shared via the iMHEA data repository. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary including fields of glaciology, ecology, hydrology and social sciences.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Incorporation into water research network "Transect of the Americas" 
Organisation Washington State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Establishment and coordination of a subgroup within the network jointly working on human vulnerabilities and water-related risks in the Andes. This group currently works on a methodology to gather indicators of vulnerabilities and risk used across the different Andean countries to be used for a joint publication on vulnerabilities and risks to water scarcity. Data sharing.
Collaborator Contribution Inclusion of our study area (Vilcanota-Urubamba basin in Peru) into the network: https://transect-of-the-americas.wsu.edu/vilcanota-urubamba-basin-peru/ Facilitation of contacts across the network and data sharing. Invitation for internal webinars and to the yearly network Assemblies.
Impact For now it is mainly the Inclusion of our project site (Vilcanota-Urubamba basin in Peru) into the network. We are working on a joint publication on vulnerabilities and risks to water scarcity across the Andean region. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary bringing together, among others, fields of hydrology, social sciences and biology/conservation.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Community and stakeholder workshops for sustainable water resource management (Tiquipaya - Cochabamba, Bolivia) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As part of a short-term collaboration with UNESCO IHP which a small additional budget (12,700 USD), RAHU set up a 6-months project that included the acquisition and installation of five river water level sensors at the iMHEA site Tiquipaya-Cochabamba, Bolivia, and several training and stakeholder workshops and public events in the region between June and December 2021.

A total of three local in-person workshops were held on 28 October and 2 December 2021 in Tiquipaya to train local stakeholder in the installation, use and maintenance of river water level sensors, and to understand local hydrometeorological processes, and quantifying the impact of catchment management practices for sustainable water and land management.

The attendants were from public schools (8 teachers and 121 students) and local communities (26 farmers) in Tiquipaya.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL http://imhea.org/monitoreo/sitios-de-monitoreo-imhea/tiquipaya/
 
Description Presentation at Mountain Festival "Anon Akanwe" (30/07/2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Fabian Drenkhan presented at this event (organized by the Museum of Natural History Peru) new insights on glacier shrinkage and impacts on water resources in Peru and the tropical Andes with examples from the Project's study region. This presentation was particularly challenging as it was dedicated to school children and general public which means to adapt language, pace and technical terms to a broader, easy understandable and interesting language.
Many children used the Q&A time afterwards to ask particularly for solutions on how to save rapidly shrinking glaciers and improve the situation of water scarcity threats. Actually, this event has substantially increased awareness among these children and their participating parents.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.facebook.com/MHN.URP/photos/a.215006685221123/3113499422038487/
 
Description Presentation at National Engineering College Peru (20/08/2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Via an external invitiation from the Nationl Engineering College of Peru, we offered with our project group a series of three subsequent presentations on our project activities in general, hydrological monitoring in the Andes and adaptation strategies to water scarcity in our study region (Vilcanota-Urubamba basin). The audience was quite broad (academics, practitioners, policymakers, students...) and there was much interest on the impacts of climate change on water resources and solutions to water scarcity in the Peruvian Andes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=629772294635965&ref=watch_permalink
 
Description Public event on low-cost monitoring of water resources in mountain ecosystems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A public online event titled "Hydrological monitoring with low-cost components in mountain ecosystems" was organized and conducted on 25 November 2021 to disseminate knowledge and facilitate knowledge exchange on hydrological monitoring in the Andes with focus on low-cost solutions. Therefore, different speakers from academia and technical research institutions from Peru were invited to present case studies on these methods. Strong cases were made on evaluating changes in water supply, water risks and opportunities to engage with research and monitoring initiatives such as iMHEA.

A total of 86 people attended the workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.facebook.com/CITAUTEC/videos/462909655169999
 
Description Workshops on low-cost monitoring of water resources in mountain ecosystems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two online workshops titled "Hydrological monitoring with low-cost components in mountain ecosystems" were organized and conducted on 26 November and 16 December 2021 to facilitate knowledge and create a space for knowledge exchange and stakeholder interaction on hydrological monitoring in the Andes with focus on low-cost solutions. Therefore, different speakers from academia and technical research institutions from Peru were invited to present case studies on these methods. Strong cases were made on evaluating changes in water supply, water risks and opportunities to engage with research and monitoring initiatives such as iMHEA.

A total of 58 pre-selected professionals attended the workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.facebook.com/CITAUTEC/photos/a.385179611841990/1539325929760680/