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Integrated Environmental Management of the Río Motagua Watershed

Brief project description:
The objective of the project is to improve the integrated management of the Río Motagua watershed and reduce land-based sources of pollution and emissions from unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants (U-POPs) to mitigate impacts to coastal-marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of the local population. The project will enhance joint efforts between Guatemala and Honduras for the management of the Río Motagua watershed (17,991 square kilometers), which is under threat by the following: a) surface water and groundwater pollution from unmanaged solid waste, wastewater, and agrochemicals; b) reduced surface water flows and groundwater reserves; c) loss of forest cover due primarily to agricultural expansion, which causes erosion and sedimentation of surface water; and d) floods, drought, and landslides caused by deforestation of riverbanks and areas with steep slopes and by climate change and variability.
The project will apply the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis/Strategic Action Program (TDA/SAP) methodology through the following means: a) a diagnostic analysis for the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) of the Río Motagua watershed in Guatemala and Honduras, which includes strengthening planning through the development of technical studies that guide activities and investments within a regulatory framework for IRBM; b) the development of a binational SAP for the integrated management of the watershed, which includes the development of an institutional coordination framework that allows the development of joint proposals for the implementation of the SAP, as well as improved national and local capacities for planning, monitoring, and control; c) the implementation of innovative initiatives for the sustainable integrated management of water and soil resources to reduce pollution (solid wastes, nutrients, U-POPs, and plastics) of the Río Motagua watershed, and strengthening the structure and functionality of ecosystems; and d) the reduction of U-POPs resulting from current waste management practices in the Río Motagua watershed, through the implementation of sound municipal solid waste management practices in Guatemala, including reducing the practice of open-air burning of solid waste.

Expected impact

The proposed project will deliver global environmental benefits related to the maintenance of water resources and regulation of the Río Motagua watershed shared by Guatemala and Honduras. In particular, the project will contribute to reducing binational water pollution that negatively impacts downstream ecosystems and livelihoods (i.e., 1,799,080 ha under the IRBM approach in the Río Motagua Watershed in Guatemala and Honduras). In addition, the project’s global environmental benefits include the reduction of U-POP emissions produced through open-air burning of solid wastes in informal dumpsites, including the reduction from 109,500 metric tons (MT)/year to 87,600 MT/year of plastic wastes and reduction from 225.6 grams of toxic equivalents (gTEQ)/year to 180.5 gTEQ/year of U-POP emissions. Also by project end, at least 56 municipal landfills in Guatemala will be using sustainable solid waste management schemes (reduction in open-air burning), and 250 ha of riparian forests will be rehabilitated for protecting water resources and improving the habitat of local fauna and flora. This will be achieved with equal participation by men and women, which will ensure that both men and women benefit equally from the project and that the concerns and experiences of women as well as men are an integral part of the development, implementation, and M&E of the project.


Goal 1
Goal 6
Goal 11
Goal 14
Goal 15
In-kind contribution
USD 28,027,876
Financing (in USD)
Basic information
Start: 01 August, 2020
Completion: 01 August, 2025
Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales Guatemala (Government)
Secretariat of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment, and Mines of Honduras (Mi Ambiente+), Ministry of FOreign Relations Guatemala, Ministry of Foreign Relations Guatemala
Initiative focused on COVID-19 pandemic response, prevention and recovery efforts
Geographical coverage
Latin America and the Caribbean
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Contact information
Juan Carlos Villagran, Project Coordinator, proyectomotagua.gt@gmail.com, (502) 54146441
Guatemala, Guatemala
United Nations