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Integrated low-cost solutions to achieve the SDGs while reducing the impact caused by floods in rural communities of the Amazon basin



The Amazon Basin is one of the most affected and vulnerable regions to climate change effects. The incidence and intensity of extreme climatic events have significantly increased in the last years, particularly floods; which on top of anthropogenic landscapes degradation, had produced a chain of events that affect multiple dimensions of people´s livelihoods.

To mitigate flood effects in the region, we propose a transdisciplinary project that integrates low-cost solutions that can be implemented by national and local governments of the eight countries that comprise the Amazon Basin. The project has five components.

  • Prevention of mosquito and water-borne diseases outbreaks: Reduction of mosquitos’ nesting sites and early detection of diseases outbreaks to reduce morbidity through the rapid implementation of preventive and palliative measures. Improvements on health will contribute to the achievement of SDG 3.
  • Landscape restoration: Reforestation of degraded recharge zones and eroded river banks and slopes. Expected to reduce runoffs and improve water quality, contributing to the SDG 6. Restoration of degraded landscapes will contribute to SDGs 13 and 15.
  • Sustainable food and energy production: Implementation of agroforestry systems using native species for food and fuel production. It will contribute to the achievement of SDGs 13 and 15, while sustainable production of food and fuel are related to SDGs 2 and 7.
  • Vulnerability assessment: Use of risk assessment technologies for early warning dissemination, decision support to policy makers and proper lands use planning. Related to SDGs 11, 13 and 15.
  • Public awareness creation: Environmental education and capacity building on disaster prevention and response; to empower and integrate local communities and governments, so they can implement actions and technologies to mitigate flood effects and reduce landscapes degradation. Embraces all the above-mentioned SDGs and highlights the importance of SDG 17.


What actions do you propose?

Worldwide, the Amazon Basin is among the most vulnerable regions to climate change effects and one of the most affected ones as well. From the melting glaciers and eroded slopes of the Andean mountains, to the constantly deforested Amazon forest; the anthropogenic pressures over the basin’s landscapes and ecosystems are increasing in magnitude. An expected growing population and development of extractive industries along the basin, puts on risk key natural landscapes for the adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects.

Among the extreme climatic events that have increase in occurrence and magnitude are floods. Global weather phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña, produce floods and droughts in different regions of the basin. These cyclic events do not only cause huge economic losses, but also takes out hundreds of lives and increase rates of morbidity among the affected populations, often being the rural ones the most affected.

Among the most devastating effects of floods in the rural communities of the Amazon basin are increase of water and mosquito-borne diseases, loss of agricultural production, food shortages, destruction of human settlements and public infrastructure, power blackouts, pollution of drinking water sources, erosion of slopes and river banks, and human losses.

The proposed project aims to integrate a series of low-cost activities and technologies to reduce the impact of floods in rural communities of the Amazon basin. The activities are divided in five different components, though each of these are interrelated and complementary. The components are prevention of mosquito and water-borne diseases outbreaks, landscapes restoration, sustainable food and energy production, vulnerability assessment and public awareness creation. Below a detailed description of the activities.

  1. Prevention of mosquito and water-borne disease outbreaks: Mosquito bites are responsible for more than 1 million deaths per year. The humid and sub-humid regions of South America, largely located among the Amazon forest, provide the ideal condition for mosquitos’ species to proliferate. Population peaks are reached at rainy season, where the abundance of water provide an ideal environment for them to proliferate. Although not all species are harmful to the human, certain species are vectors of severe disease. Leishmaniasis, Zika, Dengue, Yellow Fever and Malaria make the list of the most problematic diseases in the region, all carried by mosquitoes.

National Governments have been implementing measures to control mosquitos’ population through fumigations, provision of mosquito nets and vaccination (yellow fever). The problem is that populations often recover due to their high reproduction rates and resistance to insecticides products. Thus, efforts have been directed to eliminate potential nesting sites near human settlements. Mosquitoes will look for shallow and steady sweet-water for hatching, being tires filled with water a perfect and very common spot to nest near human settlements. The lack of adequate landfills in rural areas difficult the task of deposing old tires, and recycling them are a very complex and costly task to do. Nevertheless, affordable methods such as the one presented by Tycicler, can be used as an alternative to manage this problem.

Though preventive measures can reduce the incidence of mosquito bites, is impossible to avoid them. When no treatment is provided, the above-mentioned diseases can be lethal or cause serious damage to the victim. The problem is that it´s very difficult for National Governments to act rapidly to outbreaks situations, and help often arrives when the outbreak is out of control. The same happen with water-borne diseases, which increased during flood events due to contamination of drinking water sources and food. Diseases that can be easily treated become lethal due to lack of treatment. We acknowledge the challenges to respond fast, therefore, we proposed to integrate the “Save the Baby: Global Data Commons” technology, by adapting it to mosquito and water-borne diseases in local populations. The collection of data from population will not only permit local governments to respond to outbreaks, but also to plan accordingly to prevent future outbreaks.

Both actions will contribute to the achievement of the SDG 3, by reducing the number of ill, preventing outbreaks and creating a database of disease that can be valuable for medical research.

  1. Landscapes restoration

Degradation of natural landscapes, mainly driven by deforestation, is linked to some devastating flood effects. Deforestation of steep slopes increase the risk of landslides during intense rain events. Likewise, removal of vegetation cover and soil on river banks increase the risk of rivers’ overflow. Drainage of wetlands remove the buffer capacity of these ecosystems, making surrounding areas more prone to floods.

Even more worrying is the effects on climate change that landscapes degradation has. Through deforestation, tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere, without considering all the losses on CO2 capture over time. Forest are also known to have a major impact on local weathers, acting as climate change buffers.    

Growing population in the Amazon basin has put pressure on natural landscapes. An increasing demand for food is expanding the agricultural frontier beyond the areas that are appropriate for food production. Every year, millions of hectares are deforested from the Amazonia, mainly driven by industrial agriculture and extensive cattle production.

International organizations have highlighted the importance of not only decrease the deforestation rates, but also restore already degraded ecosystems. Efforts such as the initiative 20X20 are already underway to mitigate the effects of climate change, but won’t be enough. Through this component, we propose…. To be completed (due lack of time January 7th 2018 21:00 GMT -4 couldn't be completed)

Who will take these actions and which types of actors are involved?

The actions should be implemented by national and local goverments, in partnerships with private companies and international organizations. 

Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?

The actions will be taken at rural communities vulnerable to flood events in the Amazon basin. It could be scale up to other vulnerable communities to floods around the world. 

In addition, specify the countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2


Country 3


Country 4


Country 5



What impact will these actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

More information could not be completed due to misunderstanding of the deadline (hour zone). 

What are the most innovative aspects and main strengths of this approach?


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

About the Authors


What enabling environment would be required in order to implement this proposal?