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Information for 17128IIED

Paying for watershed services: an effective tool in the developing world

Payments for watershed services (PWS) are an increasingly popular
conservation and water management tool in developing countries. Some schemes are thriving, and are pro-poor. Others are stalling or have only mixed success. Most rely on public or donor finance; and other sources of funding are unlikely to play a significant role any time soon. In part, financing payments for environmental services schemes remains a challenge because the actual evidence for their effectiveness is still scanty — it is hard to prove that they actually work to benefit both livelihoods and environments. Getting more direct and concrete data on costs and benefits will be crucial to securing the long-term future of PWS schemes.

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The services that watersheds provide - such as quantity and quality of water - are decreasing, yet demand for these services is increasing. Can market mechanisms help to increase these services by offering incentives for improved land use in catchment areas? Can mechanisms also bring benefits to poor people living in those catchments such that their livelihoods are enhanced? This project addresses some of these critical questions.

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Developing markets for watershed services