Magdalena River Basin (Colombia)

The Magdalena River Basin is Colombia’s principal watershed located in the central part of the country, going through the Andinas region. The total size of the basin area is around 273,459 km2 covering 24 % of the national territory (including 19 of 32 Colombian departments).

The catchment constitutes Colombia’s most important region due to its economic and environmental value. The watershed inhabits about 75% of Colombian population. It produces 86% of the country’s gross domestic product and 75 % of the nation’s agricultural production. Currently Magdalena River Basin provides 70% of Colombia’s hydropower, equivalent to 49 % of the country’s electricity supply (Nature Conservancy, 2017).

The watershed is extremely vulnerable to climatic events as evidenced by the floods caused by La Niña in 2010-2011 or droughts caused by intense El Niño–Southern Oscillation in 2014-2016. Extreme climate events are expected to be stronger in the future due to climate change. Accordingly, the water security was recently assigned a national priority by the government of Columbia. An integrated management of the Magdalena River Basin as country’s main waterway and economic center plays here a central role (USAID Colombia, 2017). 

Local stakeholders declare technical and institutional capacity building and cross-institutional cooperation as key actions required to cope with water security challenges. Capacity development needs to look at the monitoring equipment and the process of data collection in the field and data analyses. Central database facility for hydroclimatic data and communication platform on basin scale would be adequate instruments to promote integrated water management (results of a stakeholder workshop conducted on November 7th 2019 in Bogotá).

Figure 1: Magdalena River Basin, Neiva

 

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