Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca Region - phase II

Project completed

The Program facilitates the empowerment of the Watershed Councils of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers in the Gulf of Fonseca Region in terms of their leadership and sustainable and participatory management of the water governance system. This contributes to collaborative processes and investments in the frame of the formulation and implementation of watershed plans, indirectly benefiting 500,000 inhabitants.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Water sector policy
01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024
CHF  5’520’000
Background The Gulf of Fonseca Region hosts five hydrographic watersheds, among them those of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers, the latter three accounting for a population of around 584,689 inhabitants, spread over 25 municipalities with a Human Development Index among the lowest in the country. The majority of the inhabitants in the upper zone of the watersheds earns its livelihood through the production of basic grains and fruits for subsistence and - on a smaller scale - extensive, low-tech livestock farming. Artisanal mining activity exists in the Sampile watershed and agro-exporting companies (shrimp, melon, watermelon, okra, sugar cane) are present in the lower watersheds of Nacaome and Choluteca. The allocation of water resources continues to be problematic, owing to the irregular spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall and lack of strategic catchment works, as well as inadequate production practices and conservation of watersheds. In this context, the watershed organizations, made up of public, private and societal actors, participate in the gradual system of water governance through dialogue and collaboration, applying an approach based on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) that is based on the General Water Law (GWL) and with the support of national and local public institutions. This effort is considered to be a critical contribution to the regional stability, as it can contribute to the prevention of regional and global conflict.
Objectives Contribute to the gradual development of a territorial water governance system being assumed by three Watershed Councils (Consejo de Cuenca - CC) in the Gulf of Fonseca region, ensuring water management in an integral, sustainable and equitable manner.
Target groups

- 3 Watershed Councils, 11 Sub-watershed Councils and 56 Micro-watershed Councils of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers, together conforming the water governance system in the R13GF;

- Territorial (public-private) and public institutional actors participating in the watershed entities;

- Authorities and technicians from 25 municipalities,

- Technical staff of five municipal special-purpose associations

- Water user population participating in watershed organizations, benefitting from water investments and being part in processes for conservation as well as adoption of better production practices.

Medium-term outcomes

Effect 1: The three councils of the prioritized watersheds (Choluteca, Sampile and Nacaome) in collaboration with equivalent structures in adjacent watersheds, lead the water governance in Region 13 Gulf of Fonseca and manage instruments for integrated watershed management, within the national legal and policy frameworks.


Effect 2:  The 25 local governments, participating with support from their municipal special-purpose associations within the framework of the Watershed Councils, articulate through public-private partnerships strategic water investments aimed at applying best practices of conservation and the responsible use of water resources, with mechanisms for sustainability and self-management.      


Expected results:  

- Conditions have been consolidated for upscaling through territorial water planning among the different key actors that represent the population in the three watersheds.

- Water plans for the three prioritized watersheds are managed under the leadership of the Watershed Councils with a participatory and sustainability approach. The long and worldwide recognized Swiss experience in water resource management will be useful, in particular for participatory approaches. It will contribute to the promotion of the rule of law. 

- Strengthened capacities of the watershed organizations at different levels for effective coordination and management of the territorial water governance system with national public institutions, municipalities, private sector and cooperation agencies. This and the hydric investments will contribute to the creation of decent local jobs and to the reduction of forced and irregular migration (complying with the new IC Strategy 21-24).  

- Tools and systems have been developed for the maintenance and follow-up of water investments aimed at water security[1], based on the water analysis of the watersheds and technical pre-investment processes.

- Steps towards the empowerment of women in order to heighten the impact of IWRM on their roles in different uses of water have been accomplished and gender indicators in water plans and investment projects been established.

- The three Watershed Councils are advocating for the approval of instruments aimed at the operation of the Water Authority and the signing of the regional water pact and fund in the Region.

- Strategic alliances with other cooperation partners, especially with the World Bank, have been established/consolidated for the follow-up and continuity of the water governance system within the framework of its Water Security Project for the R13GF at the close of Program.


[1] Water security is defined as the reliable provision of quantitatively and qualitatively acceptable water for human consumption, the production of goods and services, and ecosystems, along with an acceptable level of water-related risks. Grey - Sadoff 2007 in TEC n°14 (GWP 2010).  

Results from previous phases:  

- Regulations for setting up water governance structures and mechanisms based on the legal-institutional framework, have been updated and validated.

- Public institutions responsible for conducting the national water policies are strengthened and have the organizational instruments for the formation and operation of the Water Authority, as established in the GWL.

- The Watershed Councils (adhoc), Sub-watersheds and Micro-watersheds have been established as spaces for dialogue and decision making (public and private sectors, community and societal organizations) for the Integrated Water Resource Management/Integrated Watershed Management (IWRM/IWM); advancements towards its formalization by the responsible entity.

- Five (5) Municipal Associations with strengthened capacities actively support the formation of the micro-watershed councils and provide technical advice to their local governments in the approval of water policies and regulations. 

- An integrated vision for the water resources development, that allows for the definition and execution of strategic investments with program partners, both from the public and private sectors, has been developed.

- Promotion of leadership and effective participation of 25 Local Governments in water investments and in the development of local policies within the framework of IWRM/IWM, in combination with the participation of private sector entities in decision making, co-financing and development of water investments.

- The provision of studies and the capitalization of of learning linked to the management of water investments stands out for its contribution to decision making and conflict resolution.

- Two Anti-Drought Committees (Choluteca and Valle) have been organized with leadership and significant contributions from the private sector (unexpected result). 

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North

Coordination with other projects and actors

- Our Goascoran Watershed Programme (PGCC-ncG)

- Human Rights and Social Audit Strengthening Programme (FDHAS)

- Citizen Security Programme

- DEIT-South Programme

-Water Security Project in the Dry Corridor, Word Bank

- Donor coordination table of the R13GF  

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’520’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    5’100’000 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF   12’750’000
Project phases

Phase 2 01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.01.2016 - 17.04.2021   (Completed)