Persistent poverty, adverse weather effects related to climate change and lack of sustainable natural resource management strategies have degraded the forests and rivers of Northern Honduras, imperiling the water, wildlife and general wellbeing of local communities. EcoLogic works with chosen local partner organizations, including the Alliance of Municipalities of Atlántida State (MAMUCA), the Association of Water Boards of the Southern Sector of Pico Bonito National Park (AJAASSPIB) and the Municipality of Olanchito, to support conservation and sustainable development in the 500,000 hectare Pico Bonito Landscape of Northern Honduras. Together we have established local financing mechanisms for watershed protection and restoration activities; installed fuel‐efficient stoves to decrease pressure on forests; guided farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture techniques, restored degraded forest patches around freshwater sources via reforestation and natural regeneration, constructed sumps (greywater and sewage‐water drainage pits) and organized learning exchanges between local water and natural resource boards and other communities.
EcoLogic never works alone. Instead, we distinguish ourselves from other international conservation organizations by forming close partnerships with rural and indigenous communities to empower them to conserve and
restore their local ecosystems. In the Pico Bonito Landscape of Northern Honduras, we identified communities’ needs and resources by conferring directly with local stakeholders. We soon learned that the lack of clean water was their most pressing concern, and we worked with community leaders to unite the disparate community water councils under the umbrella of an organization capable of launching larger, regional projects, AJAASSPIB. EcoLogic has since recruited our own staff and technicians from these communities, and they remain our paramount experts when determining local needs and resources. Although we have since expanded our efforts beyond just conserving watersheds, we have only done so when communities have asked that we help them better tackle their own problems.
EcoLogic’s fundamental belief is that people who live in or near a threatened ecosystem are the best positioned to repair and protect that system. In Northern Honduras, we seek to empower local communities to overcome the socioeconomic challenges that stymie their efforts to sustainably manage local resources. We support local partners organizations’ efforts to create sustainable agricultural, water use and ecosystem conservation strategies.
We hold public community consultations before beginning any project and use large three‐dimensional topographical models that enable community members and EcoLogic’s field technicians to easily consider alternative
project parameters and locations. We believe in Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and we ensure that all the local stakeholders are fully informed and approve of every aspect of the project before any work begins. In Northern Honduras, we interface with both community leaders, including AJAASSPIB, MAMUCA and the Municipality of Olanchito Government, and directly with affected local residents.
In Northern Honduras, we focus on protecting local watersheds, providing fuel‐efficient cook stoves and promoting agroforestry techniques. These initiatives enjoy widespread community support, because they were designed in cooperation with our local partners to meet the most pressing regional challenges. As complements to stoves and agroforestry, people have self organized, building native tree greenhouses, managing forest parcels, and establish forest and waterway patrols.
We have also helped local communities design their own social marketing campaign – producing and handing out 3,500 stickers, 500 pamphlets, 50 tee‐shirts, and 50 hats with messaging regarding forest conservation. Logos and messaging were designed through workshops with a group primarily comprised of students from the Regional University of the Aguán Valley who have committed themselves to spread the word about protecting the watershed.
At EcoLogic, we continuously evaluate the results of our ongoing projects and consult with affected communities to ensure that the projects continue to represent their desires. When we learned that residents of AJAASSPIB communities appreciated the new infrastructure but had become worried that the plastic solar disinfectant systems could imperil their health, we worked with community leaders to build new water‐tanks that instead purify water by chlorination. We then trained local community members to maintain these systems and monitor them to ensure their
Our field technicians also continue to monitor the ongoing success of our Honduran projects. They track the rising number of households benefiting from improved sanitation, access to water and decreased incidence of
respiratory disease resulting from our water infrastructure and fuel‐efficient stoves projects. Our technicians also track the increased agricultural efficiency and tens of thousands of hectares protected by our agroforestry and conservation projects.
Sustaining the Work:
The real collaboration that drives EcoLogic’s site‐specific solutions takes time. We stay as long as it takes to build the necessary local capacity to successfully continue the project. We train community leaders and our partner organizations in the technical aspects of the project and ensure that adequate funding, resources and community support will remain in our absence. EcoLogic leaves only when our partners are ready and able to expand the project without our aid.
In the case of AJAASSPIB’s water infrastructure projects to deliver clean water to 27 communities, EcoLogic worked with community leaders to develop a viable funding model for the project. Now the AJAASSPIB’s work is entirely funded by community members’ voluntary $1.50 monthly payments. Although that represents a substantial sum to many members, their contributions support their communities’ access to unlimited clean water, rather than the mere 2.5 gallons of bottled water $1.50 would previously purchase.
EcoLogic’s projects in Northern Honduras have provided tangible benefits to local communities. With our partner AJAASSPIB, we have promoted local governance of water resources and protected the forests that sustain
hydrological functions, benefiting 27 communities with more than 11,000 inhabitants. Our local water purification projects allow households in five of those communities to drink directly from their faucets. With AJAASSPIB and the Muncipality of Olanchito, we are also working to protect the 6,500‐hectare Uchapa‐Pimienta subwatershed, which supplies water to over 40,000 residents.
Our work has empowered AJAASSPIB’s 27 member communities to organize to actively conserve their local ecosystems and pursue sustainable development strategies. AJAASSPIB’s associated village water councils can now ensure their communities’ access to potable water in a region prone to shortages by conserving local micro‐watersheds, managing water delivery systems, administering local finances, and levying fees. They also train community members, including women, in reforestation, conservation, and environmentally‐friendly technologies.