A waste of water
Few basins are as exemplary for global issues in water management as the small Barra de Santiago - El Imposible basin. Lack of water, inequity, environmental degradation, erosion, pollution and saltwater intrusion are but a few of the problems. In the township of San Francisco Menéndez, for example, nearly one-third of major illnesses are related to poor water quality, and an estimated 70 % of lands suffer from erosion.

The uphill National Park of El Imposible is one of the few remaining forested spots in the basin. On the coast, the Barra de Santiago National Park is in worse condition: the mangroves are disappearing to make way for sugarcane, which together with polluted waters have led to a dramatic decline in fisheries.

Lack of response
Lack of coordination and capacity make the many institutions involved in water management unable to deal effectively with these issues. The existing differences in access to and use of resources thus lead to increasing conflicts between various users.

Nonetheless, the stakeholders in El Salvador are all convinced that improvements in water and land management are vital. And they are joining hands to do just that.

Stakeholders discuss
The water users in the basin have united, with the support of IUCN, in the mesa de dialogo or round table. There, the communities discuss the water-related problems in the basin.

This stakeholder forum now receives support from the mesa technica, where experts from the government, NGOs and IUCN provide advice and take appropriate action to resolve the dire situation.

The Barra de Santiago - El Impossible (BASIM) Project
The BASIM project aims to:

  1. coordinate the management of water resources in the basin
  2. gather sufficient information for improved planning and management
  3. improve access, quality and distribution of water and ecosystem services
  4. consolidate and interconnect the protected areas in the area, as a fundamental component of the hydrological unit
  5. raise awareness and knowledge on the benefits of water resources and related ecosystems
  6. establish partnerships to ensure the continuity of improved management
  7. set in place a system for monitoring, evaluation and learning


Partners

Government of El Salvador (Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, province and municipalities), CARE, SalvaNatura, Project WATER, UNES and IUCN - The World Conservation Union

Duration and cost
The project is scheduled to take 5 years at a total cost of US$ 3 million.