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Home > Basin > Andes > Katalysis: Enabling endogenous potential in semi-arid Andean ecosystems (SG505)

Full Project Title: Katalysis: Enabling endogenous potential for improved management and conservation of water resources in semi-arid Andean ecosystems (SG505)


Katalysis is based on the premise that for rural people both access to water and their individual and collective capacities to manage it were essential to mobilizing biological resources and achieving food security and maintain livelihoods.

The objective was to enable endogenous potentials around water management by: developing farmer-led experimentation as a modality of technology development for improved water management; promote social learning and organization around water management concerns as a means to institutional and political advocacy for improved rural livelihoods; systematize and document experiences and lessons learned as means to influencing how farmer movements, local governments, and other development agencies address water management concerns in rural Bolivia and Ecuador.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • Applying the principles of people-centred development, we engaged the network of farmer experimenters in Ambuqui in a discovery learning process followed by systematic experimentation.
  • After the first year, the emergent “Katalysis” approach based on guided experience, learning, and concerted action that included the creation of a local savings and credit scheme to help finance investments.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • Through creative utilization of new water resources combined with biological potential, project participants were able to achieve new levels of production and wealth. In the process of increasing production by factors of 2 to 5, families supplanted a previous sense of helplessness with new hope and prosperity.
  • Popularisation of water harvesting and endogenous designs into the common discourses of rural development.
  • While beyond the capabilities of a 18 month project, based on the merits of the approach and a growing concern over climate change we feel that Katalysis could continue to grow and diversify to a point where it begins to influence how people think, organize, and do with regard to rural development in the semi-arid Andean highlands.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project SG505 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

Journal papers

  1. Guzmán, J. (in process). Integrated planning of water and soil management in agroecological farmers of Ambuqui thorugh the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). B.Sc.-level thesis. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador-Ibarra.
  2. Espinosa, L. (in process). Water harvesting as an agroecological and economical alternative of supplying the water deficit during the dry season. B.Sc.-level thesis. Universidad Central de Ecuador.
  3. MACRENA. 2007. Information bulletin (in Spanish). No.10 (The networkwide  newspaper was dedicated to the diffusion of results of the Katalisis project). Also circulated via CONDESAN’s InfoAndina (
  4. Sherwood, S., P. Oyarzun, R. Borja, P. Prado. Submitted in November 2007. Rainwater harvesting systems as a means to enabling smallholder farmers to cope with climate variability. Mountain Forum Newsletter. Special edition on climate change.

Technical materials and guides

  1. Oyarzun, P.J. 2007. Ten training modules in water harvesting and on-farm water management (in Spanish). World Neighbors Andes Area Program. Quito, Ecuador (available in pdf).
  2. Oyarzun et. al, (to appear in 2008). Water harvesting and retention of humidity in soil (in Spanish). 2007. AGRODOK, No. 16. Wageningen University and Research Centre and World Neighbors.
  3. Learning tools for promoting awareness on water harvesting (in Spanish). To be published in 2008) Heifer, MACRENA, and World Neighbors (available at:
  4. Narvaez, O. 2007. Enabling smallholder farmers to overcome climate variation. Presentation made to the Community of Practice (in Spanish). Seven member projects of the Andean Collaborative Crop Research Program, McKnight Foundation. Cuzco, Peru (available as a Powerpoint presentation).
  5. Oyarzun, P.J. and S. Sherwood. 2006. Rainwater harvesting and the need for new development paradigms in water resource management (in Spanish). 2nd International Symposium on the Environment. Universidad de Puerto Viejo, Manabi (available as a Powerpoint presentation).
  6. Prado, P. 2007. Katalisis: catalyzing endogenous innovation in water harvesting (in Spanish). Presentation made at the National Congress on Agrarian Development. La Molina Agriculture University, Lima, Peru. October (available as a Powerpoint presentation).
  7. Sherwood, S. 2006. Nucanchik kawsaytay rikushishun: encounters of the souls. Presented at the Global World Neighbors Conference, Oklahoma City, OK and to California Polytechnical Institute, San Luis Obisbo, CA. November (available as a Powerpoint presentation).
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.