Management to Maintain the Basis for Sustainable
Water Supplies for People and Ecological Services (El Salvador)
Mundial para la Naturaleza-UICN Mesoamérica
of Funds and Technical Assistance:
Mundial para la NaturalezaUICN Mesoamérica
Ministerio del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de El Salvador
Moravia, Costa Rica, 100 metros sur Iglesia Católica.
Teléfono (506) 241-01-01
Fax (506) 240 99 34
APARTADO: 0146-2150 Moravia, Costa Rica.
A highly sensitive area
With a rainfall regime of 1000 mm annually, the low lying areas
in the western part of El Salvador (Province of Ahuachapan and
Sonsonate) can be considered as one of the driest areas of the
country. The hydrographical region Cara Sucia San
Pedro with a total surface area of ca. 600 km2 is often
recognized as one of the most sensitive areas in the country.
Consisting of several sub-catchments (Rio El Sacramento, San Fransisco,
La Palma, Cara Sucia, Agua Chappio, Guayapa, El Naranjo, El Rosario,
Copinulo, San Pedro) the hydrographical unit discharges only 5
m3/s on average. As such the area has the most restricted water
resources of El Salvador. The area is characterised by volcanic
soils, sediment deposits at lower elavations and a steep topography
rising from sea level to 1800 meter over less than 25 km.
The province covers three main life zones: Humid
Tropical Forests, Dry Tropical Forests, and Mangroves all containing
a rich biological diversity. The rich biological diversity found
in the national park of El Impossible is some of the
best conserved of Central America. Outside this protected area
the steep slopes are partially covered by caffee con sombre
agroforestry systems. In the coastal zone extensive mangroves
exist which consist of primary forests and forests rehabilitated
after hurricane damage in the 1980s. The conservation of tropical
mountain cloud forest at the higher elavation of the Cordillera
de Apaneca (1816 m.a.s.l.), the mangroves near Barra de Santiago
and the agroforestry systems form key-elements of natural resource
management in the hydrological unit. Although the area lies in
the zone that was heavily impacted by Mitch, relatively little
negetive effects were recorded. This indicates that the natural
resources management is very effective and could function as a
model for other areas.
integrated catchment management…
Some concerns have recently been raised about the unsustainability
of agricultural and fishing practices in the area. Shrimp fishing
is currently practised year round without a seasonal fishing stop.
Agricultural practices in the area between the national park El
Impossible and the proposed Ramsar-site Cara de Sucio
- Barra de Santiago are increasingly causing soil erosion
and a further loss of biological diversity. Furthermore, urban
developments around San Jose El Naranjo, Jujutla and Guaymango
as well as in numerous small villages are affecting the freshwater
resources in the area through discharge of untreated waste waters.
To counter these threats improved management
of the hydrological unit is needed. This could entail the establishment
of well targeted biological corridors within and between the various
lifezones especially focused on maintaining freshwater biodiversity.
At more local levels, it could require specific actions such as
reduction of untreated effluents, rehabilitation of eroded areas,
establishment of river riparian management zones and implementation
of a fishing closed season. The development of these activities
should however be based on the development of a hydrological unit
mangement plan that draws from the lessons learned in the entire
unit and aims at co-ordinating the activities of the various actors
within the various catchments.
Currently no co-ordination within the entire
hydrological unit of Cara Sucia San Pedro exists.
The lack of co-ordincation forms one of the institutional obstacles
to improved management of the hydrological unit and conservation
of its rich biodiversity. Various organisations have expressed
their interest in becoming involved in the project including the
Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), Foundacion
de los amigos del arbol (AMAR), Salvanatura
(add other names
of organisations working in the area to be contacted soon).
The protection and sustainable management of the natural resources
within the Cara Sucia San Pedro hydrological
- Develop local capacity for improved water management including
training and awareness raising;
- Develop a co-ordination of organisations and institutions
involved in natural resource use in the Cara Sucia
San Pedro hydrological unit to improve its water resources
- Develop and start implementing a management plan for the Cara
Sucia San Pedro hydrological unit;
- Define and carry out key-interventions within the hydrological
unit to enhance ecosystem services improve water quality and
protect biological diversity.
- A campaign to raise the awareness of local stakeholders for
improved water management;
- A series of training sessions on integrated water resources
management in the hydrological unit;
- A co-ordination structure for the integrated management of
the water resources in the Cara Sucia San Pedro
- An integrated water resources management plan based on an
ecosystem approach for the Cara Sucia San Pedro
- A series of site specific interventions to protect and improve
water availability, water quality and biological diversity.
the first year the project will focus on building alliances between
various organisations that are currently working in the hydrological
unit. A awareness campaign will further be developed to create a
better understanding of the water dependencies that exist between
the various parts of the hydrological unit. The development of this
campaign will be based on the preliminary surveys and assessments
that will be carried out within the catchment. Individuals from
key stakeholder groups will receive training in key elements of
integrated water resources management. These individuals will form
a core group from which a preliminary co-ordination group for the
hydrological unit will be formed. Furthermore, immediate and urgent
needs with respect to water management will be identified in the
hydrological unit using Rapid Appraisal techniques within both rural
and urban areas. Several basic monitoring units will be installed
During the second and third year the co-ordination
group will develop the management plan, supported by the project
staff. This support will entail both technical support including
surveys, data gathering and data analysis and presentation and
support to the management of the co-ordination group. A wide consultation
within the unit will be set up to allow input from all stakeholders.
Local level interventions will be defined and carried out to alleviate
immediate needs. At the end of the second year, all information
required for the management plan will be available. The third
year will focus on defining the details of the management plan
together with a business plan for its operationalisation. This
will include the definition of local and basin wide conservation
and development investment priorities and mechanism for financing.
Specific emphasis will be placed on cost recovery, payment of
environmental services and innovative sustainable financing mechanims
During the fourth year, a start will be made
with implementation of key interventions to improve the water
resources management in the hydrological unit. This will include
for example rehabilitation of degraded areas that are key to sustainable
water resources management, measures to control discharge of untreated
effluents, and soil erosion control.