Climate Change Adaptation and Integrated Water Resource Management in Managua, Nicaragua

Date
Nov 2015
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has recognized that its activities in the countries of the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region have significant potential to be impacted by the effects of climate change. This is particularly the case for projects in the water and sanitation (WSA) sector that are currently in planning and execution stages in the region. Most adaptation experiences in the WSA sector have been developed at a global scale, with limited experience existing at a local level (e.g., at the basin scale). This gap presents the challenge of developing on-the-ground knowledge that deepens the IDB's expertise on adaptation to climate change in the WSA sector and helps to define policies and better practices in adaptation at the regional and country levels. This is specifically applicable to countries in Central America. The objective of this Technical Cooperation project is to support the process of increasing climate change adaptation capacity in communities in Central America. By taking into consideration the range of possible risks and vulnerabilities, plans for future investments in water and sanitation infrastructure can integrate concepts that reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate risks, leading to more sustainable development outcomes. Forecasts of climate change for Central America suggest increased climate variability in the future, which is expected to translate into more severe droughts in the dry season, and increased frequency and intensity of rainfall events during the rainy season. The latter is a particular issue in Managua, Nicaragua, where recent events highlight the existence of significant stormwater drainage challenges, resulting in impacts to communities and the economy. This case study exemplifies a potential approach that may be used to understand the impacts that increased precipitation intensity would have in a relatively large populated area, and identify the corresponding infrastructure and policy-based adaptation measures that can be implemented in response. The outcome of this adaptation experience has yielded useful elements for the definition of an alternative strategy to conventional stormwater management, one that places the focus on reducing runoff rather than managing its conveyance. Lessons learned in Managua are likely to be applicable to other efforts in the region where addressing flood-prone areas in urban settings is a top priority. Going forward, the results of this Technical Cooperation project will be used to inform the design of local and targeted adaptation measures to address climate change impacts in the WSA sector.