What is Watercope?




Watercope is a Sino-Mongolian-German project consortium bringing together researchers, herder-farmer organizations and policy makers & planners at different levels. Our common goal is to develop, compare and test-implement technologies to better cope with climate change effects on scarce agro-ecological resources in the vulnerable steppe and semi-desert ecosystems of the Altay Mountains and the Dzungarian Desert Basin (Altay-Dzungaria). This transborder water tower region faces severe conflicts resulting from increasing competition for scarce water resources and pastures shared by Mongolia and China. The region is confronted with rapid population growth, transformation of pastoral land use systems, policy changes such as the transition from central planning to market economies, changes in precipitation patterns and the availability of snow-melt water. The latter is evidenced by rapid salinization of agricultural land. In combination, these challenges threaten traditional livelihood strategies of the local ethnic minority populations, which depend on the use of animal and plant products supplied by the rangelands and floodplains along two major rivers in Altay-Dzungaria. Watercope will foster national environmental research capacities to be able to better inform national policy development on how to improve water management and land use.