Strengthening capacities and reducing risks to stimulate a process of long term adaptation
Published: 21 June 2019
Last edited: 21 May 2021
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The National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) has put in place a participatory, inclusive process of creating awareness about socio-enviornmental problems as well as strengthening capacities and reducing vulnerabilities (e.g. damaged property during floodings, water-born diseases, loss of ecosystem services) in three communities of the Carmen-Pajonal- Machona Lagoon System (SLCPM, using its Spanish acronym). Thereby, the institute has managed to establish the foundations for a local process of long-term adaptation. This process includes the development of a social enterprise offering rainwater capture and water purification; community-led reforestation activities; and the construction of infrastructure (“palafitos” - houses on stilts) designed to reduce risks to property in time of flooding.


North America
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Access and benefit sharing
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
Erratic rainfall
Extreme heat
Land and Forest degradation
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation
Social conflict and civil unrest
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030
Target 7: Increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030


Tabasco, Golfo de México, México


  • Hurricanes and storms not only spread pollution emanating from agro-industrial and petroleum industries, they cause salinization of soils and freshwater, and reduction in fish stocks;
  • Social fabric has been damaged due to political and / or religious differences;
  • There is no organization, private or public, that works continuously in supporting the communities;
  • The zone is remote and insecure.


200 people have received project per diems in return for work on adaptation activities; women´s groups have won recognition from their communities. Almost 800 people and a local school have benefited from rainwater capture and purification system.

How do the building blocks interact?

Building block one, incentivizing communities´participation, focused on attracting people´s attention and raising their awareness, which were both essential to engage them in the activities of building blocks two (mangrove reforestation), three (women as agents of change) and four (risk management). Building block three provided a space for women to share their particular needs and vulnerabilities. It also strengthened their self-image which, in turn, led to a stronger participation in the activities of the other building blocks. Building block five consists of various forms of institutional and organizational support all along the first four building blocks and their on the ground activities.


Local communities have benefited from mentoring for almost 3 years, provided by NGOs and the local government under the auspices of INECC. This has developed capacities in the following areas:

  • improved abilities to identify threats, the latter´s origins and solutions;
  • organizational capacity to support the reduction of risks, such as from diseases related to the consumption of contaminated water, as well as from flooding;
  • Technical capacities related to the establishment of various eco-technologies such as rainwater capture systems; plant nurseries; and mangrove reforestation.

Women´s groups have benefited particularly from having increased their self-confidence which has allowed them to create governance systems that have strengthened social cohesion in the area. The groups have also initiated changes that require a high level of organization such as the opening of new pathways for the commercialization of ecosystem services for social benefit.


The Carmen-Pajonal- Machona Lagoon System in Tabasco, Mexico, is a highly productive zone which has been adversely affected by infrastructure works that have led to salinization of water bodies and soil. It has also been affected by pollution derived from the petroleum industry, the sugar industry and by agriculture. When climate change-related threats such as hurricanes and tropical storms strike the region, ecosystems as well as communities face cascading risks: Flooding affects infrastructure and contributes to the sedimentation of water bodies. It also spreads any pollution that may be contained in the rivers, adversely affecting the health of humans, animals and plants. In the SLCPM, water is the key issue, be it lack of supply and quality for local communities or in terms of recurrent floods.


The project began with a participatory strategy aimed at reducing vulnerabilities and strengthening capacities of three communities. A key action was to involve the communities at an early stage in the problem definition and in the selection of both measures and key intervention sites. A first mechanism for initiating social organization was through community reforestation activities, which although of limited success, served to stimulate the involvement of people in the later activities of the project. For example through rainwater capture and a water purification plant in the community of Las Coloradas; the construction of “palafitos”  (raised, roofed platforms on stilts) in the community El Mingo as refuge platforms in the face of flooding as well as spaces for experimentation for eco-technologies. In both cases, it was women who were most involved in developing their capacities in terms of technology, organization and administration.  They were also the ones most likely to provide continuity for the project activities.


The rainwater capture and purification system benefited almost 800 people, providing free water of quality to pupils at a local primary school. This helped in turn to reduce the incidence of gastro-intestinal illnesses amongst the children. The construction of "palafitos" led by the women´s group “Las Brisas” recently capacitated in construction techniques, awoke the interest of other communities to establish their own "palafitos" as a means of reducing the risks to property in the face of flooding.


Additional support on the part of INECC also included the monitoring and evaluation of the implemented adaptation actions.

Contributed by

aram.rodriguez_37762's picture

Aram Rodriguez de los Santos National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)

Other contributors

Dra. Margarita Caso Chavez
Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático (INECC)
Lic. Aram Rodríguez de los Santos
Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático (INECC)