Sustainable Development Success Stories

The Tegucigalpa Model: water supply for peri-urban settlements

Location Urban/peri-urban, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Responsible Organisation UNICEF, with the National Autonomous Water and Sewage Authority (SANAA) Executive Unit for Settlements in Development (UEBD), which is largely funded by Sweden and Switzerland.
Description Honduras has experienced rapid urbanisation over the last twenty years. The capital, Tegucigalpa has a population of 850,000, more than half of whom live in 225 peri-urban communities. The peri-urban settlements have developed on steep hills around the city, making them very vulnerable to natural disasters (i.e. landslides, hurricanes). Surface water is almost non-existent, and groundwater is often too deep and polluted. The provision of basic services such as water and sewage systems is very difficult and costly. Most of the potable water is transported from outside the city. However, the water distribution system is too limited to supply the entire population, and it is estimated that 40% of water pumped in the network is wasted due to leakage. The programme features the use of A variety of technologies, community participation, a cost-sharing and cost-recovery system, hygiene education, and training.

Hygiene education has been promoted through a pilot project called Healthy School and Healthy House, which started in 1996. All beneficiary communities and Water Boards receive assistance and training through primary schools, street cleaning and garbage collection, cleaning and community improvements. Training includes; administration, accounting and maintenance, problem solving, conflict resolution, negotiations, appropriate participatory and information materials, technical training for plumbers and health education for school teachers and community volunteers. Once the members, now called Family Visitors, have been trained, they are responsible for individual visits to a specific number of families, a set number of times.

The Tegucigalpa model is still dynamic and evolving model that shows that universal sustainable access to water supply and sanitation services can be achieved by using innovative low-cost technologies, involving communities, and encouraging cost-sharing and recovering of both investment and Operation & Maintenance costs.

Issues Addressed Freshwater, Education, Capacity Building.
Results Achieved Between 1987 and 1996, 150,000 people in 80 communities benefited from water supply programme and about 5,000 in four communities from the sanitation programme.
Lessons Learned
  • Integrated programme: There are substantial synergies that can be achieved by integrating the water and sanitation programmes with other sectoral projects and programmes, particularly health, through hygiene education, helping to reduce under-5 and maternal mortality. If it is successful the project can be replicated in other peri-urban communities where the UEBD is developing water and sanitation projects.

  • Community participation: To be considered for the programme the community has to mobilise itself and apply formally. Women often take the initiative. Additionally, it has to provide manual labour and some construction materials, and financially contribute through water tariffs and recover the full investment cost. The community must establish a Water Board to collect tariffs, administer the water system and take care of the operation and simple maintenance activities.

  • A cost-sharing and cost-recovery system, including the use of a revolving fund: the community s contribution is about 40% of the cost of the water system, SANAA contributes 25% and UNICEF 35%. Every month the Water Board pays a contribution to a revolving fund administered by the UEBD. The cost-recovery system recovers the whole investment, maintaining the fund to enable other communities to develop water and sanitation systems and expand the programme s coverage. The programme is one of the few examples in Honduras in which investment costs are recovered and will eventually become the owner of the water system.

  • Empowerment: The Water Boards often were the first type of organisation to achieve improvements for the community. The struggle for improvements have not ended with the water supply, but communities have continued to fight for proper schools, health clinics, electricity, sewage systems, and environment-related improvements.

  • The use of a mix of innovative technologies: e.g. house connections, public stand-pipes, sale-in-block, delivery to public reservoirs filled by water trucks and boreholes equipped with electric pumps, operated independently by each water committee but designed to be integrated into the municipal system when feasible.

Contacts UNICEF Honduras
Apartado Postal 2850 Tegucigalpa MDC Honduras, C.A.