Aguascalientes Water Fund
Due to decreasing aquifer water level (280 million m3 per year), Veolia Water Technologies (Veolia) partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and local municipality to propose the establishment of a water fund to finance changes to local water-catchment and uses.
As a result, Livelihoods Funds created a project to support vulnerable farmers in Aguascalientes to invest in drip irrigation equipment to enhance farm resilience.
Changing to a drip irrigation system showed a 50% - 70% decrease in water consumption by farmers. If the 5,000 local family farmers in the water catchment area adopted this system through the new fund, this results in approximately 65% reduction of the annual aquifer deficit.
- Veolia Water Technologies (Veolia)
- Danone Waters
- The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
- Livelihoods Funds for Family Farming (L3F)
- Local municipality and State Government
- FIRA (Mexican agency for Rural Development)
- SEDRAE (Agricultural Authority of the State of Aguascalientes)
- Aguascalientes is a semi-arid state experiencing a decreasing trend in the aquifer (mostly due to intensive agriculture and population growth), which poses a significant challenge for the future of the city.
- Reducing water levels has forced Veolia to source water from deeper underground each year. However this has adverse impacts on the water quality and the environment.
- L3F provides upfront financing to project implementers to enable the deployment large-scale sustainable agriculture projects using a landscape approach with rural farming communities.
- In Aguascalientes, the Livelihoods 3F linked farmers to public authorities to provide the required information and financing to access drip irrigation in order to reduce water consumption
- The project also included a 2.5 year training program to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits of the system.
- Unlike public schemes that are limited to 1-year duration, this fund provides a 6-year programme to build a long-term relationship with farmers and maximise impact.
Results and impact
- In 2017, Veolia in partnership with TNC conducted a technical and scientific study to develop a better understanding of the water situation in Aguascalientes and identify actions to be undertaken to address concerns.
- At the commencement of the project, about a third of Family farmers in Aguascalientes confirmed engagement in the project.
- Veolia and TNC are also collaborating with the City and the State to develop a single structure to address and manage concerns related to the aquifer level.
- Family Farmers involved in the project are provided with training, equipment and technical assistance: The project involves a 2.5 year training program that includes classroom and in-field training to enhance the fertility soil using conservation agriculture techniques and weekly on-farm
visit from a project coordinator during the first year. Farmers will also be trained on farm management such as accounting, investments to increase revenues on the long-term, etc. In addition the project also drives awareness among farmers on the importance of growing less water-intensive crops and practising crop diversification to improve the farm resilience.
Key lessons learnt
- Establishing a project involving public, private, NGO entities was challenging and securing blended finance through private-public funders for the farmers has been fundamental to success.