Colombian bananas are retailed and consumed in Germany. In this case, the German retailer has the motivation to do something to improve the water situation in the Colombian region sourcing bananas, as well as to manage water risks. The targeted region is the Zona Bananera, more specifically the Frio and Sevilla rivers, near the Colombian Caribbean coast. We provided the technical expertise to put together data and information collected on the field in a way that it can guide action and bring about change at the river basin level.


Rio Frio, Zona Bananera, Colombia

Frio and Sevilla river basins are located between two ecosystems of worldwide importance: the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta  and the Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta. Sierra Nevada is a mountainous massive reaching 5700 m.a.s.l at only about 50 km from the Caribbean coast, whereas Cienaga Grande is a huge Ramsar wetland. Its ecosystem undergoes medium to severe levels of stress.

Rios Frio and Sevilla, running between the protected areas of Sierra Nevada and Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta.


Banana and palm production are the two main economic activities of the region, which is semi-arid and affected by strong drought and flood cycles, as well as by El Niño climatic event. With climate change, droughts and floods have intensified during the last few years, leading to important economic losses for the region.


Banana production in Zona Bananera. Note the aridity of the land.


We conducted a water risk and water footprint assessment in order to inform the water situation in Frio and Sevilla. We used results of the study to call for action and motivate river basin stakeholders to gather and start dialogue around water. We also developed potential opportunities or strategies to manage risks, which where then addressed during the stakeholders’ workshops lioresal .


We are very proud of this work; we linked the consumption and production ends of the supply chain in a clear way. Water risks in these river basins are also water risks for the import business in Germany. A platform of river basin stakeholders was created; they are having regular meetings to plan concrete action around water. It is still a challenge to clarify the financial sustainability of the platform, and its work plan. But still, dialogue has started, and action for protection of Frio and Sevilla rivers and their peoples has started as well.


This work was done in collaboration with WWF Germany and WWF Colombia. You can download the report here (in Spanish).