Due to its mountainous landscape, the Honduran territory has a large water supply system, comprised by 25 basins, 133 sub-basins, and a total of 6,845 micro-basins (Hydrographic Regions in Honduras); which drain into two different slopes, the Pacific and the Atlantic watersheds. For the most part, the Pacific watershed in Honduras is located in the southern area, which is known as Development Region 13 (R13) or “Gulf of Fonseca” (Figure 1), and it contains six basins that are of great importance for the country: Goascorán, Nacaome, Choluteca, Sampile and Negro, and Pacific Keys Islands.
A significant portion of the Gulf of Fonseca lies within the Dry Corridor of the Honduran territory. This area has suffered the longest dry spells of the country, which have affected significantly both their production systems (melon, okra, sugarcane, and shrimp farms, among others) and the access of inhabitants to water. These systems will always be sensitive to water availability, thus it is very important to manage water resources appropriately, mainly to ensure water supply in drought periods or heat waves.
This region shows information gaps regarding water resources, a condition that could be generalized nearly across the country.
Previously, local entities, water boards, municipalities, irrigation associations, and national authorities made decisions based on qualitative data. This highlighted the need to set up a water governance and planning based on reliable quantitative data for scientifically informed and documented decisions on water resources.
Recently, the Honduras Water Platform was implemented in this region, through the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). With this new implementation, 893 micro-basins were covered, in addition to the 1,344 already in the platform.
Now, there is information for 2,237 micro-basins, with all the platform’s potential available, specifically for the Water Planning Support System (SAPH, in Spanish). This platform combines the information available on climate, soil, hydrometry, and land use/cover with scientific methods to estimate a monthly water balance, thus determining the water availability at the micro-basin level.
Thanks to the platform and through local technicians, producers will be able to know – rapidly and free of charge – the location of water sources, characterize water demands and water quality in the micro-basin closest to them, understand how would water availability be affected according to the climate change projections or by changes in land cover. This will allow to make appropriate decisions for production systems to be able to increase their yields, always with an environmentally friendly approach.
With the purpose of having a formal closure and disseminate the new implementation of the platform in R13 to different stakeholders, on 25 February, an event was held, entitled “Dissemination of the New Implementation of the Honduras Water Platform in Development Region 13 (R13) – Gulf of Fonseca.” All the information available for water planning, not only in western Honduras, but also in the south, was presented during the event, and a web site was created with relevant information.
The dissemination was carried out virtually, with the participation of 87 people (Figure 2) from 58 institutions, including associations, programs and projects, governmental entities, and representatives from cooperation agencies, among others.
During the event, some demonstrations of the different modules in the platform were held: Hydrographic Regions, Water Balance, Water Demands, Water Quality, Scenarios, through which participants were able to see the multiple options, qualities, and capacities the platform offers to manage water resources in their areas of interest.
Experiences and Benefits
Through the platform, the Ecological Association of San Marcos Ocotepeque will be able to broaden their vision for local stakeholders specifically on water issues, providing guidance for decision making and have a clear estimate of the positive or negative impact of actions in micro-basins; it will also allow them to learn what micro-basins or official watershed areas will be intervened or conserved, which would help in the identification of areas that provide water resources to a community or population.
For Global Communities, particularly in the Dry Corridor Alliance Program (ACS-USAID), the platform is a very useful tool in the characterization of micro-basins. In the case of the Micro-basin Management and Conservation Component (CMCM, in Spanish), the platform will be useful to become acquainted with the official hydrographic regions across the Honduran territory, as it will be possible to standardize the information for every water planning level (micro-basin, sub-basins, and basins).
In addition, it will save time and resources, because, without the platform, the delineation of micro-basins would have required more support from GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and continuous field visits for verification and rectification of the boundaries.
To close the event, a dialogue was held with different stakeholders, where they mentioned the importance of the platform for water planning in their area and scope of work.
“This is the only platform in the country providing us with data on water balance, which is very relevant for decision-making in water planning and thus micro-basin, sub-basin, and basin management.”
“The Honduras Water Platform and all its tools is very useful for decision-makers at the national and local level, as it enables the implementation of national and local policies.”
“Programs and projects associated to water issues being implemented in the Gulf of Fonseca use the platform to develop micro-basin management plans, as well as to integrate sub-basin and basin councils.”
Users are able to use the platform for free and review the information available. To access the water demand, water quality, and scenarios modules, it requires a simple registration with basic personal information. Once registered, the information related to those modules may be accessed, and it is also possible to upload information collected in the field.
It is of utmost importance to feed the platforms, complementing water balance with water demand and water quality data, which is highly relevant for a proper water planning.
*This work contributes to the CGIAR Research Program: Water, Land and Ecosystems.