10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in HondurasHonduras is the second-poorest country in Central America, and although its economy relies heavily on agriculture, about 1.5 million Hondurans are still food insecure. Barriers like natural disasters and unpredictable weather continue to threaten the country’s food production, but recently, advancements in agroforestry are restoring the faith in farming nationwide. Alley cropping, a new method of agroforestry, is steadily showing how it is improving food security in Honduras.

Alley Cropping

For years, agroforestry has been transforming the lives of farming families by increasing food security in Honduras. However, before the introduction of alley cropping to farms in the country, crop failure continued to devastate farmers. While other agroforestry techniques have minimized the damage resulting from flooding, erosion and drought, alley cropping has proven to be a more successful method of crop farming. Alley cropping involves planting rows of crops between trees. This methodology creates an integrated ecosystem that improves and nourishes soil that supports both crop quality and quantity, thus increasing the amount the farmers are paid so that they can afford to support their families.

The Inga Foundation was the first to introduce and teach alley cropping techniques to Honduran farmers through demonstrational farming. These farmers also had the opportunity to obtain seeds from the demonstration and start their own alley cropping systems. According to the Inga Foundation, more than 300 farming families have been able to achieve food security through the new alley cropping method, and this number is only increasing as alley cropping starts to catch on.

Benefits of Alley Cropping

  1. Alley cropping regenerates degraded land, which helps crops grow.

  2. Alley cropping increases the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.

  3. Unpredictable weather can be withstood, meaning crops are more resilient.

  4. Alley cropping is sustainable and benefits the natural environment.

  5. Families can stay on one plot of land without having to migrate to others due to soil degradation.

Inga Trees in Alley Cropping

In Honduras, Inga trees are among one of the most popular and successful trees used in alley cropping systems. The Inga Foundation’s demonstration farm showcased hedgerows of Inga trees, which are known to revitalize the soil and support crop growth. Here are a few reasons why the Inga tree was chosen as the model for alley cropping.

  1. Inga trees grow fast. This allows farmers to quick-start their alley cropping without much of a waiting period.

  2. Not only do Inga trees tolerate poor soil, but they nourish it.

  3. Inga trees reduce weeds.

  4. Seasonal pruning of Inga trees generates firewood and fuelwood for families.

  5. Inga trees produce edible fruit.

Because the Inga tree is both incredibly resilient and easy to grow, more and more farmers are seeking out their seeds in order to better provide for their families. This tree, when paired with agroforestry, is playing a huge role in improving food security in Honduras.

The benefits that come from agroforestry methods like alley cropping can mean the difference between life and death for some families in Honduras. Thankfully, the Inga Foundation has allowed for the breakthrough of improved farming which has saved hundreds of Hondurans from the burden of food insecurity.

– Hadley West

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Among Indigenous Peoples in Central America
Indigenous people in Central America have struggled against prejudice and a lack of visibility for hundreds of years. This struggle to maintain their place throughout the region has taken a toll on the living conditions and health among their communities. Here is more information about poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America.

Costa Rica

Approximately 1.5 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of indigenous people. They are considered among the most marginalized and economically excluded minorities in Central America. Approximately 95 percent of people living in Costa Rica have access to electricity. The majority of indigenous peoples in the country are included in the remaining five percent. Many believe this is due to a lack of attention from the government in the concerns of indigenous people and the living conditions in their communities.

A lack of education is also a problem among indigenous peoples in Costa Rica. The average indigenous child in Costa Rica receives only 3.6 years of schooling and 30 percent of the indigenous population is illiterate. In the hopes of reaching out to indigenous communities and reducing their poverty rates, the University of Costa Rica instituted a plan in 2014 to encourage admissions from indigenous peoples from across the country. By 2017, the program was involved in the mentoring of 400 indigenous high school students and saw 32 new indigenous students applying for the university.

Guatemala

Indigenous peoples make up about 40 percent of the population in Guatemala and approximately 79 percent of the indigenous population live in poverty. Forty percent of the indigenous population lives in extreme poverty. With these levels of poverty among the indigenous people, many are forced to migrate, as the poorest are threatened with violence among their communities. Ninety-five percent of those under the age of 18 who migrate from Guatemala are indigenous.

One organization working to improve the living conditions for indigenous people in Guatemala is the Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya (ODIM). ODIM, which was started with the intention to support the indigenous Maya people, focuses on providing health care and education to indigenous people in Guatemala. One program it supports is called “Healthy Mommy and Me,” which focuses on offering mothers and their young children access to health care, food and education. These efforts are benefiting 250 indigenous women and children across Guatemala.

Honduras

In Honduras, 88.7 percent of indigenous children lived in poverty in 2016. Approximately 44.7 percent of indigenous adults were unemployed. Nineteen percent of the Honduran indigenous population is illiterate, in comparison to 13 percent of the general population. Despite the wide span of indigenous peoples across Honduras, they struggle to claim ownership of land that belonged to their ancestors. Only 10 percent of indigenous people in Honduras have a government-accredited land title.

Due to the poverty indigenous people in Honduras face, many seek opportunities in more urban areas, but the cities simply don’t have the capacity to support them all. As a result, many settle just outside of the cities to be close to opportunities. There are more than 400 unofficial settlements near the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Despite the difficulties they face in living just outside of a city that has no room for them, being in urban areas does have its benefits for indigenous people. Ninety-four percent of indigenous people living in urban Honduras are literate, versus 79 percent in rural areas.

For those among the indigenous peoples in Honduras who struggle with poverty, Habitat for Humanity has put a special focus on indigenous people in its construction programs. Habitat for Humanity worked with different ethnic groups within the indigenous community to provide homes for those most in need, reaching 13,810 people throughout Honduras.

Panama

Poverty affects more than 70 percent of indigenous people in Panama. Among their communities, health problems and a lack of access to clean water are common.

In 2018, the World Bank approved a project to improve health, education, water and sanitation among 12 different indigenous groups in Panama. The Comprehensive National Plan for Indigenous Peoples of Panama aims to implement positive development in indigenous communities while protecting and maintaining the culture within those communities.

The aim of this project is to create a positive relationship between indigenous peoples and the government in Panama to further developments of their communities down the road. It is projected to assist some 200,000 people through improved living conditions and infrastructure among indigenous communities.

With poor access to an education and a certain level of prejudice fueling a wage gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people, natives globally face a unique challenge in their efforts to escape poverty. In many countries around the world, indigenous people are forgotten and often fall to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. This creates particularly difficult circumstances for indigenous peoples of regions that already have high poverty rates overall. However, people like those who work with the World Bank are working to see a reduction in poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America and see that indigenous people are not forgotten and are no longer neglected.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in Honduras
Poverty remains an issue in Honduras, but it is making progress in rural infrastructure development, education improvement and agriculture income growth. As reported in 2017, Honduras has a poverty rate of about 52 percent, partly due to slow economic development, extreme violence and political corruption. Those in poverty rely heavily on outside aid from the World Bank, the U.S. and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Thanks to the World Bank and its partners, major development projects in Honduras were successful, such as the Social Protection Project and the Rural Infrastructure Project. Progress is currently ongoing to reduce poverty, develop the Honduran economy and improve life for those in poor rural areas.

Social Protection Project

The Social Protection Project cost $77 million, began in 2010 and ended in 2018. Although poverty reduced from 65 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2017, poverty remains an issue and is one of the main reasons for Hondurans fleeing the country. One major effect of Honduras’ poverty is parents taking their children out of school and having them work to help the household earn a sufficient income. Since income is low, poor Hondurans often cannot afford quality health care.

Malnutrition in children under 5 was 43 percent for those in poverty and school enrollment for ages 12 to 14 was 65 percent. To combat this, the World Bank and Honduras worked together to improve education and health care. At the end of the project, school attendance increased by 5 percent for 6 to 17-year-olds and school enrollment increased by 5 percent. Child labor reduced by 2.6 percent and about 50 percent of the recipients from 0 to 23 months of age received vaccinations. More than 300,000 families benefited from the Social Protection Project. Conditional cash transfers helped reduce poverty for those who participated in the project, which granted monthly income to the extreme poor.

Rural Infrastructure Project

The Rural Infrastructure Project began in 2005 and ended in 2016. Most roads in Honduras are unpaved and about 16 percent of people in rural areas lack a clean drinking water source, which increases the risk of contracting diseases. Also, about 22 percent of sanitation facilities remain unimproved and 30 percent of those in rural areas lack electricity. The Government of Honduras worked with the World Bank to improve its lagging infrastructure because of this. The project benefited more than 300,000 households.

Among many other infrastructure improvements, the project resulted in installing 4,893 latrines and constructing 113 water and sanitation projects. The project improved more than 413 miles of roadways and financed more than 8,550 rural electrification projects, with most of the electricity powered from solar photovoltaic energy. The project also improved more than 500 miles of power lines, which made it easier to develop remote areas of Honduras such as the slums in the western part of the country.

U.S. Involvement

The U.S. is one of the main donors to Honduras. Through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. grants aid to those in need of foreign assistance. The U.S. Congress created the MCC in 2004 with strong bipartisan support. The MCC spent more than $200 million in infrastructure and agriculture improvements through four major projects in Honduras from 2005 to 2010. Some of the results include more than 350 miles of rural roads improved and paved. The biggest result was increasing monthly agriculture income by $3.50. The increase in income might seem small, but not for those in poverty, especially Hondurans who live in extreme poverty, off of less than $2 a day. For reference, the middle-income country poverty rate is around $5.50.

Poverty is slow to decline in Honduras, yet successful development projects in Honduras show improvement in other areas. Infrastructure is improving through the help of the U.S. and the World Bank. Poverty declined gradually from about 65 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2017. Development projects in Honduras in rural areas, such as through electrification, education and health care improvements and road construction shows promise for improving livelihoods for Hondurans in poverty.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Corruption in Honduras
Honduras, officially known as The Republic of Honduras, is a small country in Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea. The Latin American country has had a rocky political climate since the 1980s and is full of corruption across all levels of government. Here are 10 facts about corruption in Honduras that everyone should know.

10 Facts About Corruption in Honduras

  1. Many Hondurans are fleeing to the United States. At least 350,000 Hondurans have attempted to migrate to the U.S. in the last 10 years to escape the danger, but Honduras has among the highest denial rates for asylum seekers to the United States. The U.S. denies approximately 78 percent of Hondurans legally seeking refuge.
  2. Political corruption is an important factor. Political corruption plays a part in why many Hondurans live in fear or decide to flee the country. Many experts say that political corruption is a big factor as to why there are so many Hondurans fleeing to the U.S. The country has a history of police brutality and one of the highest murder rates in the world.
  3. Politicians are funneling money from nonprofits to fund their campaigns. Univision reported that at least 53 nonprofits are missing funds that politicians are allegedly using to fund political campaigns or buy important votes. The nonprofits raised more than $70 million since 2009 and at least 176 politicians are part of this scandal. This includes President Juan Orlando Hernández who is the President of Honduras.
  4. The presidential election in 2017 caused protests. The Honduras presidential election of 2017 became the cause of protests across the country. When Honduras elected President Juan Orlando Hernández for his second term, many believed the results were fraudulent. Some protests were peaceful, but others took to blockading roads and burning tires. Honduras’ security forces used tear gas and live ammunition against the protesters. This results in the deaths of at least 30 people.
  5. Honduras has the most unequal distribution of wealth in Latin America. Some consider Honduras to be the sixth most unequal country in the world, due in part to policies such as a tax reform that the country implemented in 2013 that seemed to target the poor. Around 64.5 percent of Hondurans live in poverty and 42.6 percent live in extreme poverty. In 2014, the richest 20 percent of those living in Honduras had an 8 percent increase in their wealth, while the poorest 20 percent saw their wealth decrease 7.4 percent.
  6. The public health budget in Honduras suffers as a result of corruption. Studies show that in recent years, 49 percent of the public health budget mysteriously redirected to other unknown causes. The 2018 health budget underspent by the equivalent of about $33 million while hospitals remain in dire need of the funding.
  7. Historically, Honduras has severely misused aid from the United States. The intention of U.S. foreign aid to Honduras was to help President Juan Orlando Hernández in his war on drugs in the region but instead, he used it to fund security and police forces. According to human rights organizations, these security forces in Honduras have been associated with serious human rights violations in the past years.
  8. The U.S. cut funding to Honduras in 2019. In 2018, a slew of immigrants from Central America came together in a caravan of an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people headed for the United States. As a result of the region’s failure to stop the caravan, the U.S. dramatically cut funding to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The U.S. cut over $500 million in aid.
  9. An organization called the Organization of American States (OAS) fights to diminish corruption in the Honduran government. The goal of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras is to support Hondurans in fighting against corruption among those in power. Since April 19, 2016, this group has supported investigations into those accused of corruption. In addition, it worked to restore justice by recovering goods or profits unethically gained and give a voice back to the citizens of Honduras.
  10. The mission within the OAS has made impressive strides toward ending corruption in Honduras. Within six months of the creation of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), it proposed a law called the Law on Clean Politics. The law specified that political leaders be responsible for their finances and that citizens participating in drug trafficking not contribute to political campaigns. This law passed in late 2016.

These 10 facts about corruption in Honduras are evidence that the political climate in the region is rough. However, the security forces loyal to the President of Honduras weakened because the United States cut the funding. Additionally, groups like MACCIH are still working hard to combat corruption and impunity among the Honduran government. Protests continue despite the threat of violence. Also, Honduran activists continue to make their voices heard with the help of the Organization of American States.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Wikimedia

What is the Northern Triangle?
If one ever wondered, “What is the Northern Triangle?” it is a region comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This particular region experiences growing migration due to chronic violence, government corruption and economic setbacks. Approximately 265,000 people have migrated annually in recent years, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, and estimates determined that this number would double in 2019. The Northern Triangle is one of the poorest regions in the Western Hemisphere, with Honduras’, El Salvador’s and Guatemala’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranking at the bottom among Latin American countries. One can see these economic hardships as a direct consequence of decades of war and violence. Transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Eighteenth Street Gang (M-18) plague the Northern Triangle with criminal activity and corruption. In addition to these factors, agriculture setbacks due to unpredictable weather contribute to this large migration.

The Northern Triangle’s Plans

With increasing migration from the area, the Northern Triangle is cracking down on existing issues. To address economic instability, the region implemented the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity which increased production and ensured public safety. Even though El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras mostly fund the plan, the Northern Triangle has experienced limited economic growth since its implementation in 2014.

When considering the question, “What is the Northern Triangle?” it is impossible not to mention corruption. To address growing corruption, each nation took a different route depending on what each one required. Officials addressed corruption quickly due to its setbacks on the economy. El Salvador caught and charged three previous presidents for embezzlement. Officials also created a plan to implement an international anti-corruption panel. In contrast, Guatemala appealed to the United Nations for assistance in establishing a group dedicated to prosecuting criminal groups. Together, they established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) which has lowered Guatemala’s homicide rate immensely. Meanwhile, Honduras set up a corruption-fighting committee and implemented various sweeping reforms in 2016.

The Future of the Northern Triangle

Since many migrants are seeking asylum in the United States, recent U.S. administrations have varied widely as far as how to approach this challenge. Under the current Trump presidency, the administration decided to increase border security. President Trump cut down on America’s foreign for Central America and is holding back on funding until the Northern Triangle fully addresses this migration issue. The number of refugees and migrants will continue to increase until governments implement policies that reduce corruption and insecurity. Without intervention and aid, the Northern Triangle will make little progress in solving the root cause of violence, fraud and poverty within its countries.

Srihita Adabala
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Our Health Reduces Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including malaria and the Zika virus, abound in hotter, more humid countries and regions including Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Oceania and Africa. Whereas malaria has many symptoms like high fever, diarrhea, nausea and sweating, the Zika virus is not as easily detectable. Its symptoms are milder, and this includes rashes, itching, high fever and muscle pain. Accordingly, the organization Our Health reduces mosquito-borne illnesses in Honduras through numerous efforts.

The Ways that Our Health Reduces Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Our Health is a project that Global Communities runs and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds. It works with the Honduran Ministry of Health (SESAL). There are two parts to Our Health, which focuses on strengthening communities and improving education.

The goals of the first part are to increase the number of response activities in Honduran communities to prevent Zika transmission and to improve the communication of said activities. This focus is on the poor, urban areas of Honduras, including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, La Lima and Villanueva. At the moment, Our Health has 36 health establishments and 360 communities to help prevent the spread of the Zika virus. However, being successful in promoting the power of communities means it must have a way to implement this community-based solution. Its implementation phase takes an estimated three years with the first phase taking one year. The first phase fosters community-led responses to Zika outbreaks and building up communities in general. The second phase takes the remaining two years. This phase continues to strengthen the relationships from the first phase, organizing the community, allocating responsibilities and promoting positive behavior.

The second part of Our Health focuses on three aspects:

  1. Education
  2. Working with the Honduran Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health
  3. Improve understanding of these diseases including how they spread and how people can prevent them
Our Health reduces mosquito-borne illnesses by educating children to bring awareness to their families. The children can teach their families what they have learned. This does not have a predicted time period but has already started in 76 educational centers in Honduras, benefiting 29,000 kids and 1,230 teachers. The program provides teachers with virtual training and teaching materials to prevent the transmission and spread of Zika. This also supports the first part of Our Health in promoting community participation. Moreover, fifth and sixth graders receive education on how to prevent disease through a number of activities including theater, poetry, singing and drawing, as well as creating models to show their own knowledge about the Zika virus. The teachers firmly believe that addressing Zika in the classroom and spreading the knowledge to homes and communities is vital.

General Solution to Malaria

The Honduran Ministry of Health recently received a donation of more than 12 million lempiras (around $487,899 USD) in Hudson pumps, deltamethrin and bendiocarb (insecticides) and mosquito nets treated with long-lasting insecticide. People also know this as MTILD. It is using this donation to fight Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes which spread the Zika virus. MTILD use in vector control strategies and are effective in preventing malaria.

The Ministry of Health implemented these methods in Gracias a Dios and Islas de la Bahía. In addition, the Ministry of Health installs the insecticide-filled pumps in each home. This helps spray the homes on a bi-yearly basis and keeps mosquitoes away. In 2018, two spray cycles sprayed around 50,000 homes. As a result, this helped 303,467 people. Furthermore, in 2019, it expected to spray around 60,000 double-cycle homes. This protected an additional 218,959 people. For 2020, the biyearly spray might increase by 62,050 and with an additional 116,872 mosquito nets installed. As for cases of malaria, as of 2017, 1,287 people received treatment against malaria. In 2018, there were 651 cases. Additionally, the project hopes to lower it to zero cases in 2020.

Honduras’s Health Surveillance Unit works towards controlling malaria in the country. Over the past three years, malaria cases have been lower than 56 percent in the six biggest departments of Honduras. It works together with communities to address malaria Also, Honduras’s Health Surveillance Unit monitors the areas with surveillance, increases their coverage and secures treatment for victims.

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Honduras Life Expectancy
Honduras is a Central American country with a population of nearly 10 million people. Though the country has faced extreme poverty and disease, there have been significant signs of improvement in the country’s overall quality of life. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Honduras detail the improvements the country has made throughout its history.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Honduras

  1. Life expectancy is increasing. The life expectancy in Honduras has increased by almost a decade in the past 30 years. According to the 2019 Human Development Report from the United Nations Development Programme, the life expectancy at birth in 1990 was 66.7 years and rose to 75.1 years by 2018.
  2. Some of the top causes of premature death in Honduras are significantly lower than the average global comparison. The rate of deaths due to diarrheal diseases is 584.4 per 100,000, while the global average is more than 1,000. Similarly, the rate of deaths from stroke is less than 1,000 per 100,000, while the average is more than 1,800. Finally, the rate of deaths due to lower respiratory infections is 388.7 per 100,000, while the average is almost 2,000.
  3. The average years of schooling in Honduras has increased by more than three years since 1990. In 1990, the average years of schooling were only three and a half. In 2018, the average was more than six and a half. An increase in education often leads to higher-paying job opportunities, and therefore, access to better health care. Since 1957, the government of Honduras has had free primary school, which has led to a literacy rate of 83 percent.
  4. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Honduras has a low public investment in health per capita. The country currently ranks second in Central America and fourth in Latin America. The Latin American and Caribbean average is about $392 per person, while Honduras lies at about $101 per person.
  5. The mortality rates of both infants and children under 5 have both declined in the last 30 years. In 1990, the mortality rate in children under 5 was 53.4 per 1,000 live births. In 2017, the rate was just 14.6. For children under the age of 1, the mortality rate was 41.3 per 1,000 live births in 1990, which decreased to 11.6 in 2017.
  6. Some of the leading causes of premature death in Honduras include heart disease (41.6 percent), stroke (38.7 percent), violence (15 percent), road injury (16.4 percent), respiratory infections (2.5 percent) and other diseases. However, the World Bank approved the Country Partnership Framework for the country in 2015, which objectives include increasing access to finances, improving farming productivity and improving local governments to prevent violence and crime. The World Bank’s portfolio of the country is $259 million.
  7. The Honduras Social Security Institute (IHSS) has plans to expand its health facilities. The IHSS currently provides the public health system for about 37.1 percent of the working population. The institute currently has two public specialty hospitals and 10 outpatient facilities.
  8. In 2017, the World Bank reported that there were 0.314 physicians per 1,000 people in Honduras. Comparatively, Guatemala reported 0.355 physicians per 1,000 people.
  9. In 2015, the National Congress approved the Framework Law on Social Protection. This is the first time in Honduras that there was ever a law to define the national health care system. The multi-pillar law aims to extend health insurance, unemployment insurance and workmanship compensation to the working population, as well as Hondurans living in poverty.
  10. The Human Development Index (HDI), which measures the quality of life, health and wellbeing in Honduras, has increased from 0.508 to 0.623 from 1990 to 2018. To compare, Guatemala had a rating of 0.651, El Salvador a 0.667 rating and Haiti a 0.503 rating.

Although Honduras still needs to make progress in health care and safe water access, it has made a lot of improvements for its citizens in recent years. Honduras should be able to continue ensuring a long, healthy life for its citizens by continuing its improvements.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

8 Facts About Migrant Caravans from Central America
Over a year has passed since the migrant caravans from Central America arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. The migrant situation is complex and continues to have great effects on the economy, U.S. international affairs and the lives of thousands of people. The issue is far from resolving and continues to require attention, so here are eight facts about Central American migrant caravans.

8 Facts About Central American Migrant Caravans

  1. Central American Migrants: The first of the eight facts about Central American migrant caravans is that the migrants are mostly from Central America’s Northern Triangle, which consists of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The caravans began in Honduras and most of the migrants are Honduran but their Central American neighbors have joined them because they face similar issues of violence and poverty. These people traveled through Central America and Mexico until they reached the U.S.-Mexico border.
  2. The Largest Caravan: The biggest caravan, migrating in late 2018 and drawing international attention, started as a small grassroots social media movement in Honduras. One hundred and sixty Hondurans gathered at a bus terminal in San Pedro Sula on October 12, 2018. More and more people joined them along the route; the U.N. estimates that the group was as large as 7,000 people by the time it arrived in Tijuana.
  3. Reasons for Migration: Those who joined the caravans are migrating for a better future which they hope is waiting for them in the United States. Gang violence and persecution threatens them in their home countries; the murder rate in Honduras is 800 times higher than in the U.S. The migrants are leaving in an attempt to save their lives. In addition, there is widespread poverty in the Northern Triangle and the migrants are hoping for higher salaries and better lives for their children in the United States.
  4. Challenges on the Road: There are many hardships and health risks that the migrants face when traveling on foot, by bus or hitchhiking. The journey is arduous and results in road injuries and fatalities such as when a young Honduran man fell off a truck during the journey and passed away. Sunburn, dehydration and a continuous lack of access to clean water and sanitation are threats as well. The migrants also faced violence when crossing borders, such as when authorities used teargas. The group was dependent on local aid, such as church and civic groups or local government entities that provided food and water in the towns they passed.
  5. International Law on Asylum: International law on asylum states that anyone who enters U.S. soil or wants to enter U.S. territory to claim asylum must be able to do so and receive a chance to have a court hear their case. Because of this, the United States legally cannot ban asylum seekers according to their countries of origin or force asylum seekers to return to countries where their lives are in danger. However, President Trump labeled the caravans an invasion and the U.S. responded with a zero-tolerance policy and threats to close the border. The U.S. passed the Migrant Protection Protocol in January 2019 which forces asylum seekers to wait for their court date in Mexico. Between January and December 2019 only 11 migrants out of 10,000 cases at the border received asylum, a rate of about 0.1 percent in the whole year.
  6. Changes in Caravan Numbers: There was a swell of caravans until late 2018, but patterns in migration are changing. The caravans, while safer in numbers during the journey, were not successful at gaining asylum at the border. Current migrants have been traveling in smaller groups which are harder for others to track. Those who were in original caravans are now spread out, some suffering deportation back to their original countries, others opting to stay in Mexico or waiting in Mexico for a chance to apply for asylum or for their court date in the U.S. A small subset is even living in the U.S. undocumented or after gaining asylum.
  7. Doctors Without Borders: Health issues are a pressing concern for members of the migrant caravan especially as they are living in temporary camps near the border. Many migrants suffer from injuries and illnesses that they sustained through their long journey and exposure to the element along with violence they may have encountered on the way. Aside from physical issues, the migrant community is also suffering from many mental health issues including anxiety and depression, a result of the prolonged stress of their journey and precariousness of their position. Doctors Without Borders has sent an emergency team to provide aid and treatment, collaborating with the Mexican Ministry of Health to attend to the needs of the migrants.
  8. Border Kindness: Migrant caravan members at the border are not always able to meet basic needs. However, organizations such as Border Kindness have stepped in to provide immediate needs including shelter, food, water, clothing, medication and legal aid to a population with low resources. Its work is ongoing and pivotal in protecting and providing for the especially vulnerable including women, children and the elderly at the U.S.-Mexico border.

With so much happening globally all the time, people can sometimes push important issues aside as agendas shift. These eight facts about Central American migrant caravans are a brief overview of the basic situation and the changes occurring over time. The realities of the migrant crisis at the border continue to be relevant and pressing.

– Treya Parikh
Photo: United Nations

Why are More People Trying to Cross the Border?
With America’s current politicians, U.S. border security is tighter than it has been in decades. In the spring of 2018, the Trump Administration introduced the zero-tolerance immigration policy to discourage migration into the U.S. The policy required detention of all individuals who crossed the border illegally, with or without children.  This resulted in the separation of children from their parents and their placement in shelters around the country. The U.S., however, halted the policy on June 20, 2018, due to widespread backlash.  The government has been letting thousands of held migrants go free because it lacks enough beds to hold them in detention facilities. However, these implementations have not been successful in deterring people from attempting to illegally enter the country. With the heightened security, why are more people trying to cross the border?

The Decrease in Mexican Immigration

The important thing to note with the changing migration patterns is the demographics of the people. Undocumented immigrants are no longer mainly coming out of Mexico, which is how it has been in the past. In fact, the number of people fleeing Mexico is on the decline.  Since 2007, the number of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. declined by 2 million. They now make up less than half of illegal immigrants in the U.S. This is due partially to the increasing militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and the increase in price for human smugglers, but there are other factors too.

  • The economy in Mexico has improved and Mexican employment opportunities are rising.
  • Fertility rates in Mexico have dropped significantly in the last 60 years, from seven births in 1960 to only 2.1 in 2019.
  • Not only are there fewer immigrants, but the Mexican immigrants that are crossing the border have higher education and are more fluent in English than the U.S. has seen in the past.  Mexico is undergoing a demographic shift and a technological transformation that is making it more habitable for its population.

With the decrease in Mexican immigration due to an increase in Mexico’s living conditions, why are more people trying to cross the border? As Mexico increases opportunities, immigration statistics are shifting to the impoverished Central Americans.

Increase in Central American Immigration

In Central American countries, over half of the population lives below the poverty line. The Northern Triangle of Central America, or NTCA, which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has one of the highest homicide rates on earth and many consider this area to have some of the most dangerous countries. America is not the only country seeing a huge influx of these immigrants as well. Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica have seen a 432 percent increase in asylum applications, the majority coming from the NTCA.

Over 90 percent of the new illegal immigrants entering the U.S. is coming out of Guatemala specifically. Why are more people trying to cross the border? It is because of the challenges of poverty and violence in Guatemala.

  • About two-thirds of Guatemalan children live in poverty.
  • Over two-thirds of the indigenous population live in poverty.
  • The wealth distribution in the country is one of the most uneven distributions in the world. In fact, the top 1 percent control 65 percent of the wealth, and the top 5 percent control 85 percent. The economic elite is not indigenous either as most members have European heritage.
  • Guatemalans are itching to flee areas ridden with conflicts over land rights, environmental issues, official forced labor policies, gang violence, prostitution and human trafficking, and depressing crop prices that destroy farmers’ ability to make profits.

What the US is Doing to Help Guatemala

Fortunately, the U.S. is working to help improve conditions in Guatemala.  Traditionally, Guatemala and the U.S. have had a good relationship with a few disagreements over human rights and military issues. Guatemala has a strong trade system in place and the U.S. benefits by working to improve conditions there regarding security, governance, food security, civil rights, education, crime reduction and health service access for the people.

The U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America put in multiple initiatives including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Central American Regional Security Initiative and Food for Peace. The U.S.’s goal is to spur development in Guatemala and reduce the desire for illegal immigration into the U.S. The Trump Administration proposed to substantially cut funds for the country and to completely eliminate food aid. Congress shot down much of these cuts in the Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2018 and 2019. However, in March 2019, the Trump Administration did suspend all U.S. military aid in the country when the Guatemalan government misused armored vehicles that the Department of Defense provided to combat drug trafficking. The Trump Administration is still actively trying to cut or eliminate all U.S. aid to Guatemala and the NTCA, but Congress remains actively invested in the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America.

– Gentry Hale
Photo: Flickr