Twin Towns Flood Risk Reduction

Belize Twin Towns Flood Risk Reduction Project

Over the past 12 months, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), with support of Taiwan, has been implementing the “Flood Risk Reduction Project for San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns” in Belize. PADF is now handing over tools and supplies to the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council to further equip both municipalities with the ability to keep drains and public spaces free of debris or overgrown vegetation. Keeping drains, culverts, and public areas free of debris, shrubs, or other materials will improve run-off of flood waters and mitigate risks of flooding during torrential downpours both seasonally and during extreme weather conditions.

This support is expected to positively impact approximately 21,000 residents in the Twin Towns and allows local government, along with residents, to build on civic pride and disaster risk reduction strategies during routine maintenance as well as community-led cleanups.


Belize is a low-lying coastal nation that is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the resulting intensification of natural hazards, especially storms and flooding. On average, Belize is hit every three years, suffering severe losses from wind damage, and flooding due to storm surge and heavy rainfall. Fortunately, flood risks can be reduced, and lives can be saved. Before severe storms strike, the people of Belize can proactively take measures to reduce flooding and minimize the impact of floods on households and businesses.

Due to the interrelated nature of disaster risk reduction and climate change, and their impact on urban communities in Belize, PADF launched the project “Twin Towns Flood Risk Reduction Project” in Belize in September 2019. This project is being implemented in San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Located at the confluence of the Mopan and Macal Rivers in western Belize, these so-called “Twin Towns” rank as the second largest urban area after Belize City with an estimated population of 21,000 inhabitants. The Twin Towns are also the prime economic hub of the Cayo District in western Belize, with retail business, tourism, and banking services contributing to nearly 70 percent of the local economy. Unfortunately, the Twin Towns also face severe flooding during hurricane season. In recent years, flash flooding during non-hurricane season have caught the community off guard and caused severe damage to many homes and businesses. This project’s main goal is to improve the ability of local authorities and residents of San Ignacio and Santa Elena to reduce the negative impact of extreme weather events.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially critical that communities take proactive steps like this to mitigate the negative consequences of floods. Such interventions will reduce the need for evacuations and can slow the spread of the disease in the event of a major storm.


The project has three main objectives:

  • Collect, analyze and distribute geospatial data to inform the design of flood-risk reduction activities in the community;
  • Reduce vulnerability of members of flood-prone households and businesses through flood-reduction activities; and
  • Produce flood-risk reduction reports to improve local government’s ability to prioritize and implement flood-risk reduction interventions.

The project will impact approximately 21,000 people in both towns by the end of 2020.


Over the past year, we have:

  • Conducted business vulnerability surveys for 34 businesses on flood risk reduction strategies and emergency response plans;
  • Engaged 40 participants (representatives of government agencies, students, and community members) and trained participants to become producers of geospatial data using OpenStreetMap™ (OSM) to inform flood-risk reduction efforts;
  • Organized a community-wide volunteer event to support information sessions on flood risk reduction strategies, debris removal, and other low-cost flood risk reduction measures;
  • Conducted an online survey to gauge perceptions of residents on flooding; and
  • Conducted two mapping exercises with 25 students of the Twin Towns using KoboToolbox™ to produce a story map (click image to view).


By teaching government officials to perform flood risk modeling, Taiwan is leading the way in helping the people of Belize to achieve a brighter future by reducing the negative impacts of severe storms. The Twin Towns Flood Risk Reduction Project is part of the Taiwan-PADF Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean and is made possible through the support of Taiwan. PADF has also engaged Galen University as a key partner in research and innovation and the Sustainable Child Friendly Municipality under the Ministry of Local Government as a partner for sustainability through its Child Advisory Board.

Posted on 9/25/20.

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