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Colombia: Surviving on the Rio Magdalena

Tanja Blut
February 5, 2019

Millions of people living along the Rio Magdalena are feeling the sting of climate change, as fish stocks — and the river itself — dries up. But they're taking action to preserve their unique landscape and way of life.

Boats, fishermen and water hogs on a river
Image: DW/Juan Zacarías

Colombia - the wetlands of Rio Magdalena under threat

Project goal: Helping wetland communities living along Colombia's most important river adapt to climate change

Project implementation: The project promotes adaptation to the effects of climate-change on wetlands around the Rio Magdalena, and is trying to integrate conservation measures into public policy

Project partner: The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, Fundación Alma and others

Project area: The Magdalena River basin, which covers 24 percent of Colombia's territory and affects around 32.5 million people

Project volume: €2,000,000 within the framework of IKI

Millions of Colombians live from the Rio Magdalena basin. The landscape is made up of meadows and forest in the dry season, but in the rainy season the river breaks its banks and creates a huge wetland rich with plants, fish and other wildlife.

In recent years, local fisherfolk have found the river is no longer as plentiful as it used to be. Their catches are smaller and many species have died out, they say.

These changes are down to many factors. Deforestation for cattle pasture and palm oil plantations has affected water supply, while the El Nino climate cycle is increasing in frequency and drying out the wetland.

One international project in the region is working with locals to change things for the better.

A film by Tanja Blut

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