Hybrid governance for drought risk management: the case of the 2014/2015 El Niño in Costa Rica

Raffaele Vignola*, Chris Kuzdas, Isabel Bolaños, Karina Poveda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In the athropocene era, droughts are complex disaster risks that are driven by the nature-society interactions requiring, especially at the local scales, of adaptive poli-centric approaches. In such contexts, actors from across scales and knowledge domains need interchanging information and coordinating actions through existing institutional spaces to i) navigate uncertainties regarding complex drought evolution and impacts pathways and ii) address pre-existing social tensions over water scarcity. Focussing on the dry tropics of
Costa Rica and on the 2014/2015 El Niño drought that affected all Central
American region, this article characterizes existing institutional spaces used by stakeholders to address water scarcity in three case studies while characterizing the evolution of this drought's governance from the analysis of official and media documents. We found that in some of the case studies actors from sectors previously involved in water conflicts are not represented in inter-organizational institutional spaces to address water scarcity and have not participated in the drought response process. We also found, in line with the drought governance
analysis from around the World, that drought governance activities in the
region should strengthen the participation of representatives of organizations that can play a knowledge-brokering role such as technical agencies, local universities or extensionists. Although these boundary players can contribute to increase shared understanding among different actors in water conflict-prone cases on drivers, responsibilities and uncertainties, they are currently under-represented in local institutional spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-374
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • drought risk management
  • El Niño
  • water conflicts
  • hybrid governance

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