After decades of military rule, Honduras established a freely-elected civilian government in 1982. Honduras remains the second-poorest country in South America, however. Much of the country’s economy still depends on U.S. trade and remittance. The CIA estimates that about 15 percent of investing in Honduras is direct foreign investments from U.S. firms. Honduras’s GDP is on a constant rise, but it also reflects the unequal distribution of wealth. This unequal distribution of wealth contributes to the state of sanitation in Honduras. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras.
10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras
- A total of 91.2 percent of Honduras’ population has access to an improved drinking water source. However, access to an improved water source is more limited in rural areas where most of the country’s impoverished populace lives. An estimated 63 percent of the rural population lives in poverty.
- People in rural communities rely on unprotected sources. The rural populace, which does not have access to improved water facilities and infrastructures, is forced to rely on small springs and wells that are not protected. This reliance on natural water sources means that access to water for the rural populace can be difficult during the dry season.
- Decentralizing water and sanitation services helped sanitation in Honduras. In 2003, Honduras passed the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector Framework Law, which decentralized the water and sanitation services. The World Bank reported that this decentralization improved water services for approximately 108,000 families and sanitation services for 3,786 families.
- The World Bank is contributing to decentralizing water and sanitation in Honduras. Through this project, the World Bank is helping to establish autonomous municipal water and sanitation service providers, thereby increasing sanitation coverage in Honduras.
- In 2015, 80 percent of the population had access to basic sanitation services. Similar to access to improved water sources, access to improved sanitation facilities is higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Those who do not have access to basic sanitation services are more likely to contract diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.
- New technologies help produce clean water for Honduras. Working with the Pentair Foundation, the Water Missions International (WMI) was able to provide water filtration machines in the Honduran district of Colon. The machine uses filtration and chemical disinfection to produce 1,000 gallons of water for less than 75 cents. WMI also established microenterprises in Colon, where local communities obtain ownership over their community’s filtration machine.
- Agua de Honduras program aims to provide local communities with data about their water source. Agua de Honduras provides communities, especially in the dry western regions of Honduras, with data on hydrology, soil properties, water demands and future climate scenarios to local communities. The USAID supports this program from 2016 to 2018 with an investment of $800,000.
- Mining in Honduras poses a danger to the quality and quantity of water in Honduras. Mining is a lucrative industry in Honduras. In 2016, mining contributed one percent to the country’s GDP and made up five percent of the country’s exports. However, there are reports of local mines in Honduras contaminating the local water source with heavy metals. Furthermore, the water demand from mining operations can lead to water scarcity for the local community.
- Environmental activists and communities in Honduras are in danger of violence and death threats. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental activism. In 2017, for example, people of the Pajuiles community fought against the construction of a dam that polluted their community’s water source. When the community set up road-blocks to prevent heavy machinery from getting to the construction sights, armed police force and swat teams forcefully removed them from the roadblocks. A protester in the same group was later murdered by a police officer.
- Climate change threatens Honduras’s access to water. Inside Climate News’s 2019 interview with the small rural community of El Rosario included a discussion of the effects of climate change for the people of Honduras. Residents of El Rosario reported that the prolonged dry season is hurting their crops and their livelihood. Some experts suggest that this lack of water could lead to further destabilization of Honduras’s political, economic and social climate. As many people will be forced to migrate from the effects of climate change, experts also suggest that there could be nearly 4 million climate migrants by 2050.
These 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras highlight the progress that has been made, as well as the continuing struggles. Moving forward, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations continue to make sanitation in Honduras a priority.
– YongJin Yi