Building peace in the minds of men and women

Progress towards joint management of shared groundwater resources by El Salvador and Honduras

27 February 2019

Following five years of hard work, stakeholders from El Salvador and Honduras signed a historic letter of intent on 22 February 22 in Esquipulas, Guatemala. This letter is a step towards the future joint management of the groundwater resources of the Ocotepeque-Citalá aquifer, shared by El Salvador and Honduras in the Trifinio Region.

The Letter of Intent is a symbol of the will and moral commitment of the signatories to participate in a future cooperation mechanism for the governance of the resources of the aquifer, in order to ensure its integrated, sustainable and shared management and use.
Through consultations carried out at all levels in a participatory and inclusive process, a consensus was reached on the text of the letter.

The letter was signed in Esquipulas by representatives of the civil society (water boards), local authorities (mayors, municipal commonwealths) and national institutions of both countries (ministries of environment and natural resources), all involved in the management of the valuable water resources of the aquifer, as well as by regional actors such as the Trifinio Plan. It also included the signing of honorary witnesses by other local stakeholders, including members of academia, indigenous peoples’ representatives, and the gender focal point for the project, among others.

The Letter expresses the moral commitment of the signatories. While it is not binding, it constitutes the first step in the formalization of a cooperation mechanism between stakeholders of both countries. It is also a pioneering example in Central America, recognizing a crucial need to coordinate efforts, integrate visions and work together to achieve an effective management of transboundary groundwater resources, with participation at all levels.

This event is the result of the activities of the Project "Governance of Groundwater Resources in Transboundary Aquifers (GGRETA)", executed by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).