El Imposible


Few basins were as exemplary for global issues in water management as the small Barra de Santiago - El Imposible basin. Lack of water, inequity, environmental degradation, erosion, pollution and saltwater intrusion were but a few of the problems. In the township of San Francisco Menéndez, for example, nearly one-third of major illnesses were related to poor water quality, and an estimated 70 % of the land suffered from erosion.

Lack of response

Lack of coordination and capacity made the many institutions involved in water management unable to deal effectively with the issues. The existing differences in access to and use of resources thus led to increasing conflicts between various users. The stakeholders in El Salvador were convinced that improvements in water and land management were vital. And they joined hands to do just that.

Stakeholders discuss

The water users in the basin united, with the support of IUCN, in the “Mesa de Dialogo” or round table. There, the communities discussed the water-related problems in the basin.

This stakeholder forum received support from the “Mesa Technica”, where experts from the government, NGOs and IUCN provided advice and took appropriate action to resolve the dire situation.

The BASIM project aimed to:

  1. coordinate the management of water resources in the basin
  2. gather sufficient information for improved planning and management
  3. improve access, quality and distribution of water and ecosystem services
  4. consolidate and interconnect the protected areas in the area, as a fundamental component of the hydrological unit
  5. raise awareness and knowledge on the benefits of water resources and related ecosystems
  6. establish partnerships to ensure the continuity of improved management
  7. set in place a system for monitoring, evaluation and learning


Government of El Salvador (Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, province and municipalities), CARE, SalvaNatura, Project WATER, UNES and IUCN Water Programme.

Duration and cost

The project was scheduled for 5 years.

Further information