Spanish cooperation projects ensure water access for thousands of Hondurans

By German Reyes

Tegucigalpa, Jun 16 (EFE).- Scarce rainfall in 2023 has affected thousands of campesinos in Honduras, where poor farmers suffer every year either from the impact of prolonged drought conditions in the summer or from flooding triggered by heavy rains.

Many other rural dwellers, however, are faring better thanks to projects led by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

One of the regions most affected during the summer months is the so-called “dry corridor” that encompasses the southern and southwestern Honduran departments of El Paraiso, Choluteca, Valle, La Paz, Intibuca and Francisco Morazan.

Due to the effects of climate change and the recent start of an El Niño phase in the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon that tends to bring dry weather to tropical regions such as Central America and put food security at risk, Honduras’ state-run Permanent Contingency Commission (Copeco) this week declared a “red alert” in 140 of the country’s 298 municipalities.

It also declared a “yellow alert” for 101 other municipalities.

The red alert encompasses all of the departments of the “dry corridor,” as well as parts of the eastern department of Olancho and the northern department of Yoro.

Yet despite the harsh summer conditions, food security projects carried out in some regions of Choluteca by the AECID and Spanish non-governmental organizations are helping many campesinos to cultivate their lands successfully.

One beneficiary has been Javier Carvajal, who grows corn and beans, as well as fruit and vegetables, using a drip and sprinkler irrigation system.

He cultivates those basic crops for his family’s sustenance on around two hectares (five acres) of land in Espinal, a village in the Choluteca municipality of Pespire.

The AECID’s general coordinator in Honduras, Francisco Tomas, told Efe during a tour of that agency’s rural projects that the one being carried out in Pespire with the Spanish NGOs Justicia Alimentaria and Amigos de la Tierra is helping farmers apply environmentally sustainable practices, diversify their production and sell their products in the local market.

“There are different practices we use here for the crops. We till the land in different ways. We bring the water from an artesian well to a basin with an electrical pump system,” Carvajal said while showing Efe the parcel of land he cultivates and gathering nance fruit and cashews.

He added that he employs “agro-ecological practices using different environmentally friendly planting methods.”

“We protect the environment because it’s part of the life we have here,” said Carvajal, who also receives assistance from the Pespire Development Association, a private organization that promotes local development.

In the Comayagua Valley, located in the like-named department of central Honduras, another AECID project being carried out in partnership with the Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation has changed the lives of thousands of families in the municipalities of Ajuterique, Lamani and Comayagua, who have stopped consuming water from an irrigation canal.

“We’re grateful to (the AECID) for having helped us with this macro project that has resolved many situations we were dealing with before. Now we no longer have the serious contamination we had before, when we were consuming water from that irrigation canal,” said 72-year-old community leader and subsistence farmer Modesto Sanchez.

He added that long lines of children suffering from diarrhea from the contaminated water used to form at health centers.

Local residents now have sufficient quantities of high-quality water but also are conserving that valuable resource, Sanchez said, noting that there are thousands of inhabitants who still do not have access to potable water in their homes.

The three communities have benefited from the project for several years thanks to the construction of a potable water treatment plant and a wastewater plant.

“There used to be problems because we didn’t have water. We’d go to a well to bring it. We’d take it from there, but now that we have the project we’re happy and grateful,” Teodolinda, Sanchez’s wife, said.

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