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INDICATORS OF SOCIAL-ECONOMIC-ENVIROMENTAL EFFICIENCY OF WATER USE IN LATIN AMERICA DRY LANDS

Congress: 2008
Author(s):
Alex P. Carneiro, Anna Subirana, Apolinar Figuieras, Heraldo Silva and Jordi Morató Cátedra UNESCO de Sostenibilidad Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña EUETIT, Colom 1, 08222 Barcelona, Spain Web page: http://www.catunesco.upc.es Telf./Fax: 34 93

Keyword(s): Indicators, Dry Lands, Water, Sustainable Use
AbstractThe dry lands occupy more then 37% of the world surface and host 2.3 billion people. In Latin America, it occupies 5.7 million km² (more then ¼ of its total surface). Those arid and semi-arid areas are characterized by long dry periods followed by intense rains in short time periods. Both processes, droughts and heavy rains, frequently cause significant economic, social and environmental damage (i.e soil erosion and desertification). Moreover, the social development model applied throughout several decades in those areas is contributing for the establishment of serious social-economic- environmental degradation processes. For instance, the patterns and conventional models of water use are usually inadequate for the reality of dry lands. In those ecosystems, the use of conventional water handling technologies represents a significant “lost” of this resource, mainly due to the evaporation and ground infiltration. Therefore, the efficiency of those conventional technologies are clearly questionable, on this case. Non-conventional technologies of water handling are also applied to dry lands. These alternatives may present positive and/or negative aspects for each application. That reinforces the need to select different criteria for the suitable water use technologies in each case . Therefore, the adoption of efficiency indicators are strongly recommended in order to evaluate and select the most adequate technology for each application. These indicators are a powerful policy decision tools. For its formulation, it should be considered, not only the technological issues, but also the environmental, social and economic issues. The usage of those indicators will undoubtedly contribute to better allocate the limited natural, financial and human resources of the dry lands of Latin America. This paper presents a state of the art review for this subject. Moreover, the analyses for the main issues related to the determination of social, economic and environmental components for an efficiency indicators of water use technologies are presented, knowing that the efficiency indicators are specially adapted to the real conditions in Latin American dry lands.
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