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.

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

 Key COMPANDES Outputs

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  1. A series of published papers in well-known international journals compiling information on the processes (methods), findings (results) and outputs (impact) o the project.

  2. 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

The project closes having worked in many basins, with hundreds of stakeholders, having 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, at the project website:, the final report and associated publications and the CPWF website.




Postdoctoral Research Associate – Water Security & Transboundary Environmental Policy


The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy ( seeks to fill the position of Postdoctoral Research Associate in water security—with emphasis on transboundary aspects and one or more of the following: sustainable water governance, use and dissemination of climate information, adaptation to global environmental change, groundwater policy, the water-energy nexus, water-demand management, development of alternative sources of water, and science-policy coproduction.  This is expected to be a two-year position (August 2014 – July 2016), with an initial appointment of one year that is renewable for a second year based on performance.

The position is a component of an international water security network with active research and stakeholder engagement in the arid Americas; in addition, the parent project works in Europe, Africa, and Asia.  The Udall Center has over two-and-a-half decades of work on challenges resulting from transboundary and transjurisdictional conditions, an important focus of this position.  For the past decade, we have received continuous, substantial support (over $4 million) from a number of sponsors, especially the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), and most recently from a private British foundation.  The successful candidate will contribute to ongoing collaboration of AQUASEC, the Center of Excellence for Water Security (, which has been designated as the first such thematic center of excellence by IAI.  Current partnerships involve researchers and stakeholder partners in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the Southwest U.S.

The University of Arizona is recognized globally for encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary research and outreach.  It is home to one of the largest and broadest concentrations of earth and environmental research and education in the U.S., with world-class programs in fields including environmental law, climate science, hydrology, ecosystem science and management, arid lands, and environmental engineering.  It is also an internationally-recognized center of research on adaptation to climate variability and change.


The Postdoctoral Research Associate will conduct original research, support network activities, aid the lead investigators in supervising graduate students, travel to Latin America, support workshop implementation, prepare and submit project reports, aid in Web site development and maintenance, and contribute to the preparation of proposals for additional funding.


We seek an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD (earned by the time the appointment starts) in geography, public policy, environmental economics, applied climate science or hydrology, or a related social-science or environmental-science field.  The successful candidate will have conducted original research and published in the peer-reviewed literature.


The region of particular focus is the arid Americas; thus, preference will be given to candidates who demonstrate proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese in addition to English.

SALARY RANGE: $40,000 to $45,000 per year (12 months)



The position will remain open until filled, but review of applications (and requests for letters of reference) will begin March 1, 2014, with interviews (conducted via phone or Skype) anticipated before May.

To apply, please submit an official University of Arizona job-specific application (citing job #54525), as well as curriculum vitae, list of publications, statement of research interests, and contact information for three references to:

The University of Arizona

Human Resources

888 N. Euclid #114

P.O. Box 210158

Tucson AZ 85721-0158

The job posting and instructions for submitting application materials online can be found at (search for Job #54525, or go to:

For more information on this position please contact Christopher Scott (

 As an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, the University of Arizona recognizes the power of a diverse community and encourages applications from individuals with varied experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds M/W/D/V.