The Coco River is a key natural resource in one of the poorest parts of Latin America, forming a natural border between Honduras and Nicaragua as it flows into the Caribbean.
|A visit by UNOPS technical staff and the local environment secretariat for the reconnaissance of the basin /Photo by Pedro Baca|
Managing water resources successfully and sustainably across these national boundaries is essential for the humans, animals and plants dependent on the land drained by the river.
A European Commission-funded project is teaching key local stakeholders how to best cultivate and manage this ‘watershed’ area, known as the Coco River Basin.
It will also review the laws governing natural resources in Nicaragua and Honduras in order to develop cross-border environmental arrangements.
UNOPS is working with the Association of Municipalities of Nueva Segovia in Nicaragua and the Commonwealth of Northern Paraiso in Honduras, as well as national authorities to develop watershed management capacity in the region.
Building capacity and protecting water resources
Building this capacity requires a strong combination of local participation and regional coordination. The project is developing nine watershed management plans, which will cover an area of approximately 5,200 sq km, where the water resources serve around 170,000 people.
Sixteen environmental units are being set up to organize training schemes, run watershed management committees, and enable communication between municipal authorities, civil society and state institutions. The units also coordinate studies to identify water resource problems and solutions, which always include both local and regional stakeholders.
|A watershed management training session |
As well as working closely with local authorities, the project has created a diploma course on watershed management - which has already trained 40 technical staff from relevant institutions and civil society organizations. Throughout the region, local mayors and their staff are also being schooled in natural resource management and environmental sustainability.
In Honduras, teachers are receiving training aimed at promoting environmental activities with students. The project is also working on enhancing environmental education for university students, journalists and environmentalists. When complete the project will leave a platform in place for improved management of natural resources in general, with a particular emphasis on water resources, as well as recommendations for further involvement of the local population in sustainable resource management.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with Regional Unit for Technical Assistance (RUTA) which is providing technical expertise for the assessment and management of watershed planning and implementation.
UNOPS is implementing the project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme which is executing a Global Environmental Facility-funded project in the region and with the United Nations Environmental Programme which is providing expertise on specific environmental issues. The project is funded by the European Commission and has been underway since April 2009.
Achieving UNOPS contribution goals
During 2010-2013, four high-level contribution goals are defining the work of UNOPS. This project is working towards the fourth contribution goal: Environmental sustainability and adaptation to climate change.