Sustainable management of the Coco River Basin

A project training local stakeholders on how best to cultivate and manage the Coco River Basin between Honduras and Nicaragua has improved the sustainability of water resources shared by around 170,000 people.

 "The project is an example of how we should deal with the issue of water resources in the region."

– Paul Oquist
Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Nicaragua

​Funded by the European Commission and implemented by UNOPS in collaboration with UNDP and UNEP, the project also fostered transboundary cooperation between the two countries.

The Coco River is a key natural resource in one of the poorest areas of Central America, forming a natural border between Honduras and Nicaragua. Managing the Coco River's water in a sustainable manner is essential for the people and ecosystems dependent on the land drained by the river. It also helps reduce deforestation around the basin and mitigate the effects of climate change.


The project developed local watershed management committees that improved political harmonization between Honduras and Nicaragua and helped develop a regional regulatory framework on water resource management.

It also strengthened the capacities of local communities and authorities in water resource management, by creating a diploma course for technical staff from government and civil society, and training local teachers — who have since relayed the information to around 30,000 primary and secondary school students.

The project helped raise awareness for thousands more through broadcast, print and online outreach campaigns organized by local young people.

Afterwards, the EU Head of Operations in Nicaragua, Marc Litvine congratulated UNOPS "for managing our project with mastery".

The initiative was a finalist for the UNOPS 2011 Project of the Year award for showing excellence in project management in a large number of ways, including for successfully:

- involving all stakeholders in a participatory manner and developing their capacity

- capturing and sharing best practices and lessons learned

- disseminating information on the project widely, through a range of channels

- improving collaboration between partners

- promoting UNOPS core values by encouraging national ownership and emphasizing accountability and transparency