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Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
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Water Quality Stress:
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City & Country

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $2,631,985,361.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $292,422,128.00 - [11%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $294,767,513.00 - [11%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $950,261,183.00 - [36%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $149,506,234.00 - [6%]
  • Water Scarcity: $506,364,076.00 - [19%]
  • Water Management: $438,664,227.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

No challenges found.

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES Honduras is divided into two large drainage basins each consisting of watersheds and rivers that drain towards the oceans. -The Atlantic sloping side of Honduras is home to 13 watersheds including Honduras' largest rivers by volume such as the Río Patuca, Río Ulua, and Río Aguan. Together, the watersheds and rivers on the "Atlantic slope" account for 87 per cent of the country's surface water runoff. -The "Pacific slope" side of Honduras has five major watersheds. The important rivers on the Pacific side of the country include the Rió Choluteca which supplies water to the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and the Rió Lempa. All together, the rivers on the Pacific slope convey the other 13 per cent of surface water runoff in Honduras. Total surface water runoff is estimated to be 87km3 per year with 16 per cent of this water leaving Honduras for the neighbouring countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Groundwater availability is not precise in Honduras, however, wells located in the lowlands of the Atlantic coast historically have good yields and are able to sustainably supplement water needs there. In 1973, CEPAL (La Comisión Económica para América Latina) estimated that 9.09km3 of renewable groundwater could be sustainably exploited for use. Most of this water (8.02km3 per year) recharges groundwater on the Atlantic drainage basin of Honduras while the smaller Pacific side basin is recharged by an annual 1.07km3 of water flowing towards the Pacific. Groundwater use has been important in the valleys of interior highlands such as Choluteca, Tegucigalpa, and Comayagua where agriculture and irrigation are important to local economies; however, groundwater resources are in significant decline and availability of groundwater for irrigation has subsequently been adversely affected.

1.1.2.WATER USE Data on water and sanitation in Honduras varies, however, WHO/UNICEF reported in 2006 that sanitation coverage was 69 per cent with a substantial majority proportion being located in urban settings. Water system coverage was 87 per cent (also broadly defined) with a small majority of this being urban. Water For People works in Honduras and they report water service in rural areas is ~44 per cent. Furthermore, much of this water is not properly disinfected, posing serious health risks from water-borne diseases. The General Directorate of Water Resources (La Dirección General de Recursos Hídricos (DGRH)) is responsible for the development, operation, and maintenance of irrigation systems. Honduras could potentially irrigate 5,000km2 of agricultural land; however, as of 2000, only 730km2 were under irrigation. About 560km2 of the irrigated land is held in private arrangements of which about 470km2 is actually being watered. The remaining 170km2 is publicly-held land. The move to privatization began in the 1990s when the Honduran government adopted a policy of privatization and decentralization that included an eventual transfer of irrigation systems to users. These irrigation system transfers are not being eagerly adopted as farmers have a high preference towards privatization and do not want the added responsibility of system maintenance. The Cortes, Yoro, and Choluteca provinces are the most developed representing ~500km2 of irrigated area. In response to the continuous increase in water utilization, a "25-year master plan" is being promoted by the Honduran government for both irrigation and drainage with a total investment of US $143 million. Drainage in Honduras is of utmost importance to the health of citizens, livestock, and agriculture. Geographically situated in the tropics, Honduras receives large totals of rain from powerful storms and hurricanes, and flooding is an important concern. This constant flooding prompted a 1973 programme to build canals and aqueducts in an effort to control flood waters and recuperate agricultural land. Figures from 1991 show that construction of canals to convey floodwater away from valuable land have recuperated 420km2 in the Sula Valley and 200 km2 in the Aguán Valley. Drainage problems in Honduras are most prevalent in the Patuca, Aguán, Plátano, Ulúa, and Chamelecón river basins and cover approximately 3,400km2. Installed capacity of electricity generation in Honduras is ~1,500MW, while hydroelectric output accounts for about 500MW (33 per cent) of total output. There is large potential for hydropower generation amounting to about 5,000MW. This growth in hydropower potential resulted from the efforts of former president Ricardo Mauduro, who set up a Special Commission for the Development of Hydroelectric Projects. Notable hydroelectric plants in Honduras include El Níspero (22.5MW), Cañaveral (28.5MW), Río Lindo (80MW), and El Cajón (300MW). There are 16 hydro projects that should be commissioned by 2011 and will provide an output of 206.5MW. Some of the notable projects include Cangrejal (40MW), Patuca 3 (100MW), Los Llanitos (50MW), and the Jicatuyo (170MW). El Cajon, as of 2001, was the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken and produced between 45 and 50 per cent of the consumed electricity (650-700kW in 2000) within Honduras. 1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Major environmental problems are urban population expansion; deforestation resulting from logging and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes; further land degradation and soil erosion hastened by uncontrolled development and improper land use practices such as farming of marginal lands; mining activities polluting Lake Yojoa (the country's largest source of fresh water), as well as several rivers and streams, with heavy metals. Country Overview - Honduras Water pollution to both surface and groundwater is primarily due to agricultural run-off and untreated effluents from mining activities. Honduras produces coffee for export along the Atlantic coast and many of the pesticides used become toxic effluents that contaminate rivers and seep into groundwater tables. Heavy metals that escape from mining operations along the Gulf of Fonseca have become a problem and untreated wastewater originating from large towns and cities has often been discharged into nearby waterways, especially in the case of Lake Yojoa. As of 2000, there were no systematic records of pollution levels in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

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Country Water Profile

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Organizations in Honduras

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 Partner organisations in 179 countries. The network has 68 accredited Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships. The network is open to all organisations involved in … Learn More

Water For People exists to promote the development of high-quality drinking water and sanitation services, accessible to all, and sustained by strong communities, businesses, and governments. OUR VISION A world where every person has access to reliable and safe water … Learn More

The Water Resilience Coalition, founded in 2020, is an industry-driven, CEO-led coalition of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world's freshwater resources … Learn More

Projects in Honduras

Spanish Description below - - - At present, Granada is the fourth most polluted city in Spain. The establishment of a green belt around the city of Granada, through the restoration of forests and other landscapes, will create new green … Learn More

Created in 2012, this project’s goals are: Diversify and increase farmers’ revenue Increase biodiversity and mitigate climate change Preservation of heritage and cultural methods Social cohesion and organization This project, initiated by the chocolate maker Chocolats Halba and locally conducted … Learn More

Keurig Green Mountain funds this program, called "Blue Harvest," to restore and manage water resources in coffee-producing areas of Central America. Blue Harvest is a three-year program coordinated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The premise of this program is that, … Learn More

The primary source of water for the city of Bucaramanga, Colombia, is the Surata River, which originates in the Santurban High Andean Wetland. Approximately two million people depend on this fragile ecosystem, which is being affected by agricultural practices, formal … Learn More

Starbucks and Conservation International began an assessment of the water component of the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices program in 2008, focused on 2 stages in the coffee value chain: cultivating, growing and harvesting coffee using methods that avoid … Learn More

General Mills is tracking the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan to drive progress toward watershed sustainability. We support TNC to help farmers implement water management and soil health practices that reduce groundwater withdrawals and address declining … Learn More

90% of rural Hondurans have access to at least basic and safely managed water systems, but these figures hide poor water quality, frequent breakdowns, and systems damaged by recent hurricanes, which highlights a lack of sustainability. Water For People constructs … Learn More

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