Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure Development in El Salvador


El Salvador has been exposed to a growing number of hurricanes and tropical storms from the Pacific and the Caribbean/ Atlantic Ocean, with concomitant heavy rainfall events that have boosted annual  rainfall, especially in the last ten years.

Through this project the Government of El Salvador seeks to enhance the country’s preparedness for climatic events within the framework of sustainable development. The overall goal of the project is to increase climate resilience in El Salvador through implementation of concrete adaptation measures in the most vulnerable urban areas, supported with appropriate policy and regulatory development, and to disseminate best practices demonstrated therein for eventual replication throughout El Salvador, and perhaps other parts of Central America.

Project details

El Salvador has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in Latin America with regard to climate-related disasters. The country is particularly sensitive to the negative impacts of climate change due to its location (on the narrow part of the Central American isthmus, exposing it to weather systems in both Pacific and the Caribbean/ Atlantic), which increases the probability of extreme weather events being experienced. In addition, the effects of climate change are exacerbated by the extent of El Salvador‟s social, economic, and environmental problems (deforestation, and poor communities with inadequate housing located on critical slopes in ravines and gullies). This situation constrains effective responses to extreme weather events and magnifies the consequences of lack of preparedness and inaction at the community level.                               
The overall goal of the project is to increase climate resilience in El Salvador through implementation of concrete adaptation measures in the most vulnerable urban areas, supported with appropriate policy and regulatory development, and to disseminate best practices demonstrated therein for eventual replication throughout El Salvador, and perhaps other parts of Central America. More specifically, the main objective of the project is to reduce the vulnerability of selected urban areas in the Metropolitan Area of San Salvador to flooding, erosion, and landslides created by extreme precipitation associated with current climate variability and expected climate change in the near future. This will be achieved through three project components:

  • The design and construction of resilient infrastructure (at two locations in the MASS) that can resist and mitigate the impacts of extreme events (improved storm water management, capture, and aquifer recharge). Current interventions to address water flow are focused on downstream measures designed to prevent major erosion or flooding. As noted previously, such measures are becoming very expensive and mostly ineffective, as they can hardly cope with one or two major events. The project will therefore incorporate a broader approach to water management that also addresses upstream measures necessary to reduce peak flows and the stress on current drainage infrastructure. The proposed approach will also reduce the necessity to relocate large numbers of people. It is expected that the project will catalyze new paths of growth in the MASS and other urban communities in the country, reducing their vulnerability and enhancing their resilience to the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Institutional strengthening, including improved policy guidelines, more appropriate building standards and codes, and more effective coordination of private and public stakeholders, to increase the climate resilience of vulnerable communities in El Salvador.
  • Related knowledge management and dissemination, to increase the public awareness of climate resilient options for future public and private construction in urban areas.
Signature programmes: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Key collaborators: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Residents of the Metropolitan Area of San Salvador (MASS)
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
El Salvador Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Housing, and Urban Development
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Adaptation Fund
Project status: 
Source of Funds Pipeline
Funding source: 
Financing amount: 
$5,425,000 (request in 2012-5-22 proposal to AF)
Co-financing total: 

Key results and outputs

Component 1: Infrastructure Climate Proofing in the Metropolitan Area of San Salvador (MASS)
An analysis of flooding and erosion vulnerability in MASS conducted (Output 1.1) and integrated into a database including climate, hydraulic, and economic variables (Output 1.2), allowing for the development of a 5-year storm water master plan that accounts for the likely range of climate change risks (Output 1.3). Resilient infrastructure measures implemented in selected municipalities (Output 1.4).

Component 2: Institutional Strengthening
Policy guidelines to improve planning for climate resilient human settlements developed (Output 2.1) and used to revise/improve building codes and planning standards (Output 2.2). Coordination mechanisms established between key stakeholders to address relevant climate change risks on infrastructure (Output 2.3).

Component 3: Knowledge Management and Dissemination
Lessons Learned developed and disseminated to local governments and stakeholders (Output 3.1) alongside a Communication Campaign (Output 3.2), including technical specifications, revised building codes, and relevant planning guidelines (Output 3.3).

Reports and publications

Monitoring and evaluation

The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) scheme will be applied in accordance with the established UNDP procedures throughout the project lifetime. As an implementing partner, the Ministry of Public Works (MOP), together with the UNDP El Salvador Country Office, will ensure the timeliness and quality of the project implementation. Technical guidance and oversight will be provided by the UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC), as well as the Project Steering Committee (PSC).
Project start: A Project Inception Workshop (IW) will be held within the first 3 months of project start with those having assigned roles in the project management (i.e., AF, UNDP El Salvador Country Office and where appropriate/feasible, regional technical advisors as well as other stakeholders). The IW is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan.
Annual progress report: An Annual Progress Report (APR) shall be prepared by the National Project Director, shared with the PSC and submitted to the AF. The APR will be prepared with progress assessed against set goals, objectives and targets, lessons learned, risk management and detailed financial disbursements.
Mid-term evaluation of the project cycle: The project will undergo an independent Mid- Term Evaluation (MTE) at the mid-point of project implementation (February 2014). The MTE will determine progress being made towards the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed. It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; it will also highlight issues requiring decisions and actions, and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation, and management. The findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project‟s term.

Periodic monitoring through site visits: UNDP El Salvador Country Office will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Annual Work Plan to assess, first hand, project progress. Other members of the PSC may also join these visits.

Project closure: An independent Final Evaluation will take place 3 months prior to the final PSC meeting. The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project‟s results as initially planned and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction takes place. The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.


Oliver Page
Regional Technical Advisor