Much of Western Honduras can be brutally dry, constraining most farmers to rain-fed subsistence agriculture. And with climate unpredictability, farmers and governments often lack the information needed to make the smartest water and agricultural investments.
But the Government of Honduras has piloted and adopted a major new data platform, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) science. “Agua de Honduras” provides communities with data on hydrology, vegetative cover, soil properties and water demand, along with future climate scenarios. The platform aids water management decisions on farms, in communities and across entire micro-watersheds, sub-watersheds or watersheds.
At the local level, the platform was successfully piloted with local organizations and municipal governments in four areas. One of these organizations used it to decide where to purchase land to invest in potable water systems. The successful results so far have led to interest from other agencies in expanding this system to other areas of Honduras.
One important component of the platform is AGRI (AGua para RIego), a tool for identifying sites for irrigation and drinking water. The award-winning AGRI has already been used in Western Honduras over 150 times to identify rainwater harvesting sites, 25 times to determine river diversion points, and three times to select the best routes to increase aqueduct water supplies.
The Government of Honduras officially adopted the platform as one of the main water management systems of the Ministry of Environment. The tool is expected to help water conservation investments as well as of access to water for smallholder farms and human consumption.
Since 2015, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Honduras has supported, through CIAT, water-related information initiatives. The Water Planning System (WPS), which deploys Agua de Honduras, aims to benefit millions of Hondurans, by providing policy makers the information necessary to make smarter water investment decisions.
“This demonstrates the potential that alliances between research centers and development agencies have to generate products that provide concrete solutions to real problems in agriculture,” says CIAT/WLE research lead Marcela Quintero. “Likewise, these partnerships allow technical and scientific products to reach end users faster.”
By providing critical data, the platform already supports the implementation of several national laws and policies such as the General Water Law, National Plan, Country Vision, and the Water, Forest and Soil Master Plan. In future, it may benefit millions of Hondurans.
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