Food Insecurity in Central AmericaThe ability to consistently access nourishment is vital for all people. In regions affected by poverty, like Central America, many families lack this ability. These 10 facts will provide a glimpse at food insecurity in Central America, how it affects the lives of the people who live there and what has been done to address it.

10 Facts About Food Insecurity in Central America

  1. More than 10 percent of Guatemalan children are underweight. About 46.5 percent of Guatemalan children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnutrition. Indigenous children are more likely to suffer from stunted growth; 58 percent of Guatemalan indigenous children under 5 suffer from this condition. Indigenous children are also more likely to suffer from anemia and vitamin deficiencies.
  2. Food insecurity fuels migration to the U.S. Severe droughts, crops destroyed by fungus and persistent poverty all play a role in preventing families from thriving in their home country. USAID and U.N. reports find that poverty and food insecurity in Central America motivates migration more than other factors.
  3. From 2015 to 2018, food insecurity in Central America increased annually. Indigenous populations and women were the groups most impacted by chronic hunger. Poor and rural communities were also likely to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
  4. USAID’s response to food insecurity is focused on agriculture. USAID funds studies that create solutions to agricultural problems. USAID works with many groups, including governments, universities and American farmers, to bring agricultural solutions to regions affected by food insecurity. USAID also implements initiatives like Feed the Future that directly address food insecurity. Guatemala and Honduras are two of the 12 countries that receive specially targeted assistance through Feed the Future.
  5. Between 2013 and 2017, USAID’s initiative Feed the Future provided assistance to 215,000 Guatemalan children. During this period, Guatemalan agricultural production created $47.8 million worth of profits for the Guatemalan economy. Feed the Future worked to improve agriculture in Guatemala by providing resilient seedlings, higher-quality pesticides and training to prevent the spread of disease among crops. Guatemalan agriculture also became more diverse thanks to the introduction of new crops. In cooperation with USDA, Feed the Future helped Guatemalan farmers learn new methods of planting crops and tracking their growth electronically.
  6. In 2014, USAID implemented new programs in Honduras to fulfill the goals of the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy. In cooperation with the Honduran government, USAID works to decrease rates of stunted growth by 20 percent by 2020. USAID is also working to move 10,000 families out of extreme poverty by 2020. To combat food insecurity in Honduras, USAID is promoting crop diversity, improving infrastructure connecting rural areas to urban areas and improving child nutrition.
  7. The Dry Corridor is experiencing drought. The region referred to as the Central American “Dry Corridor” consists of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. During the summer of 2018, the Dry Corridor was hit by low levels of rainfall and above-average temperatures. The unusually severe drought of 2018 came after a previous two years of drought that lasted from 2014 to 2016, which required food relief for millions of people.
  8. Food insecurity in Central America has been worsened by severe droughts. For the past year, there has been a severe drought in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. 290,322 families in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were affected by the 2018 drought. $37 million worth of corn was destroyed in El Salvador alone due to lack of rain.
  9. The Central American drought was caused by the effects of the 2015-16 El Niño Event and by the results of global climate change. After the drought, about 3.6 million people required food-related aid. 50-90 percent of the region’s agricultural production was destroyed.
  10. After the 2014-15 droughts and the following spike in food insecurity, the Central American Dry Corridor received an influx of humanitarian aid. Efforts were made to conserve soil, more closely track data about nutrition and hunger and better prepare for future droughts. In the midst of the 2018 drought, data collection was prioritized in order to maintain stable food prices, combat food insecurity within particularly vulnerable populations and relocate rural families away from the regions most severely affected by the drought.

Central America, a region already affected by poverty, reached the brink of crisis after nearly 5 years of severe droughts. By 2018, food insecurity in Central America had spread throughout the countries of the Dry Corridor. But regional governments, with the assistance of relief agencies, implemented agriculture-based solutions to ensure that future droughts would not have the same disastrous consequences. These innovative solutions pave the way for a more secure future in Central America.

– Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr

Children in HondurasHonduras is located in the heart of Central America with coastlines running along both the Atlantic and Pacific. Honduras’ population is nearly 9,750,000 according to World Bank. However, the country has seen a significant dip in population in recent years due to increased gang violence. The country is also recovering from the Presidential election of 2017 in which voter fraud and voter misgivings paved the way for the reelection of Honduras’ unpopular President, Juan Orlando Hernandez. One U.N. report determined that the number of people fleeing Honduras, as well as other Central American Countries, has risen by nearly 60 percent as a result.

Children in Honduras and their struggling families are often overlooked as a demographic. Helping Honduras Kids (HHK) is dedicated “to improve the level of dignity, education, opportunity and health for orphaned, abandoned, abused, and/or neglected and special needs children, single mother and families on the North Coast of Honduras.” Their mission statement alone alludes to the significant impact HHK has on these children’s lives.

Programs to Empower Children

Based in the Honduran city of La Ceiba, HHK’s central focus is helping children grow and develop through encouragement, counseling and education. Several programs help, like the Hogar de Amor (Home of Love), which cares for more than 20 children at a time. Though the first Hogar de Amor opened its door in 2007, HHK moved to a new location in 2010 due to pressure from local gangs. Their new home has been going strong for more than six years.

Another key program is the Jungle School. Founded in 2007, the Jungle School is an eight-classroom facility whose 10 teachers instruct over 200 hundred students in grades K-8th. HHK provides uniforms, school supplies and books along with a meal five days a week. The school also staffs a volunteer nurse who provides the students with medical and dental checkups. The nurse provides regular checkups to single and pregnant mothers. HHK subsidizes a Stay in School Outreach program that encourages kids of all ages to remain in school. 62 percent of the poorest children in Honduras will drop out of school by age 16. Programs like the Jungle School offer children the possibility for a brighter future in Honduras.

Aid and Impact

In 2007, gangs drove residents of the Campesino village off their land. HHK, along with Amigos of Honduras, purchased land for the displaced villagers in response. In addition, HHK has donated fortified rice, soup and truckloads of ripe bananas to the village. They have also constructed a central building for the village with a concrete floor and roof which will be used for meals and care of the roughly 350 children living in the village.

In a country plagued by gangs, drug violence, and political corruption, HHK is making a real difference for children in Honduras. The Honduran government does not allow adoptions from private orphanages like HHK. This means that many of these children will have the opportunity to take what they’ve learned from HHK and build a better Honduras for tomorrow.

Henry Burkert

Photo: Flickr

In March 2019, President Trump announced wanting to cut U.S. aid in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. These three countries are known as the Northern Triangle of the U.S. government’s Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity (A4P) Initiative.

This is a U.S. strategy to address the security, governance and economic prosperity of these regions. The effectiveness of the A4P initiative and the numerous benefits it presents to both the Central American region and the United States has led to bipartisan support in the U.S., and to cease the aid to the northern triangle would be counterproductive to both the interests of the United States and Central America as a whole.

Since the 1980s, Central America has seen a decline in armed conflict and has become politically stable. Additionally, in the past decade has become a strong economic partner to the United States. While all of this implies significant progress in the region, the region remains stagnant with high crime rates and nearly half of the population currently lives in poverty.

Honduras: History, Plans, and Benefits

Honduras has received over $3 billion from USAID since 1961. The bulk of this aid impacts sustaining economic growth and establishing economic stability. Some efforts to obtaining these goals are increasing access to health services, expanding exports, improving education infrastructure and strengthening the nation’s democratic systems. In sum, these initiatives address threats to Hondura’s stability.

That being said, included are high crime and violence rates and widespread poverty and food insecurity.  Additionally, there is a presence of government corruption and ineffectiveness. According to the U.S. Department of State, Honduras reliance on foreign assistance, provided by the U.S. is crucial to there development and safety.

El Salvador: History, Plans, and Benefits

Over the past 50 years, USAID assistance in El Salvador has provided economic opportunity. It aids in improving educational and health care systems and supporting disaster relief and economic development.

Specifically, the bulk of assistance in health care is targeting infant and maternal mortality. With the assistance of USAID, the mortality rate in El Salvador has dropped from 191/1000 to 16/1000 between 1960 and  2008. Access to education and literacy rates have steadily increased over the years as well.

Again, with the assistance of USAID, two key organizations for analyzing the major problems facing El Salvador have been developed. These are the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES) and the Business Foundation for Educational Development (FEPADE).

Guatemala: History, Plans, and Benefits

Guatemala is experiencing population growth and has become the most populated country in Central America. The Guatemalan government and USAID have been working together to strengthen security for citizens and stimulate economic growth. The efforts of USAID have had a significantly positive impact on addressing some of Guatemala’s security concerns.

For example, there has been an 18 percent decline in robberies, 50 percent decline in the illicit drug trade and a 50 percent decline in blackmail in communities. In order to stimulate economic growth, USAID has focused on agriculture, education, and health. This development has created 8,734 jobs and the country has seen an increase in coffee sales and implemented widespread reading programs.

Importance of Continued Support

The Northern Triangle’s future development and prosperity are heavily reliant on the continued support of the United States. Eliminating U.S. aid in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala would be counterproductive to both the goals of the U.S. and the Northern Triangle. U.S. aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala will be able to improve the overall quality of life of Central Americans.

– Randall Costa
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Corruption in the Northern TriangleThe Northern Triangle, consisting of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, is home to some of the highest levels of political and economic instability in the world. The nations of the Triangle (Or NTCA, Northern Triangle of Central America) are characterized by high rates of poverty and gang violence. Subsequently, this is exacerbated by rampant corruption, from local to national levels. This instability, along with the hazards of living in a poverty-stricken region, has led to an increase in the outflow of migrants from the Northern Triangle into the United States.

Nevertheless, things are getting better. With the Northern Triangle having received more international attention in recent years and immigration issues leading American political discourse, the underlying problems of the region are coming to light. Some U.S. and United Nations’ programs are successfully circumventing government channels to provide aid directly. However, other initiatives are attacking the problem of corruption at its source. Fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle requires a longterm method addressing the economic insolvency of these countries. Here are five ways the world is fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle.

5 Ways the World Is Fighting Corruption in the Northern Triangle

  1. Guatemala and the CICIG
    Guatemala hosts one of the most effective and successful anti-corruption NGOs in the region. The U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity (known as CICIG, per its Spanish initials) was implemented in the early 2000s to address the rampant corruption sprouting up in the wake of Guatemala’s civil war. The commissioner, Iván Velásquez, is a distinguished veteran of Colombia’s criminal justice system, where he worked to expose links between paramilitary groups and public officials—an identical background to the types of corrupt practices that burden Guatemala’s public sector.
  2. Identifying Criminal Ties to Government Officials in the NTCA
    In a list released in early May 2019, the U.S. Department of State has named over 50 senior government officials in the NTCA as guilty of corruption. This list includes officials in the orbit of all three countries’ presidents, some of whom are direct relatives. Representative Norma Torres (D-CA) noted that the release of the list was a step in the right direction, forward progress for the Trump administration recognizing the severity of corruption in the Northern Triangle. While many of the anti-corruption bodies operating in the NTCA need international backing to be as effective as possible, the State Department’s list indicates the U.S. has not completely voided its assumed role as stabilizer in the Western Hemisphere.
  3. Slow but Steady Progress in El Salvador
    Like the rest of the NTCA, El Salvador ranks low in global measures of corruption and impunity for government officials. However, the country’s most recent attorney general, Douglas Melendez, made it his mission to attack the systemic and embedded corruption permeating the government. While he was recently forced out of office by the national legislature, Melendez successfully prosecuted three former presidents and his own predecessor as attorney general. His failure to secure reappointment reflects both El Salvador’s closed-door (and thus inherently political) process of selecting an attorney general, and a backlash of the country’s political elite against his progress fighting corruption.
  4. Experts Discuss Corruption and Human Rights in the NTCA
    In May 2019, a panel of experts led by the nonprofit, Inter-American Dialogue, discussed the current initiatives fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle, and how they could benefit from expanding their focus to include human rights. Guatemala’s CICIG was brought up, as was the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH). A major point of emphasis was the commonalities across all three countries, specifically the way in which corrupt kleptocratic networks are indirectly committing human rights violation by embezzling money earmarked for public services. The discussion lauded the work of CICIG and MACCIH in Guatemala and Honduras, respectively, and emphasized the need for a similar external agency in El Salvador.
  5. MACCIH Brings its Twelfth Major Case to Court in Honduras
    The Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) has been operating since April 2016, presumably inspired by the success of CICIG in Guatemala. Unlike CICIG, which is a U.N.-backed Commission, MACCIH is organized by the Organization of American States, an international charter that was created in the late 1800s. Through the OAS, MACCIH can share investigation data with other member states, which is particularly effective when investigating transnational organization—namely, drug cartels. In May 2019, MACCIH brought forward its twelfth integrated case, this time addressing a federal-level scheme to launder millions in cartel money.

Fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle is not linear. Pushback from political and business elites has been a significant problem both for MACCIH in Honduras and for El Salvador’s nascent anti-impunity work. This is to be expected of any anticorruption initiative, however, as it deals with the removal of power and resources from officials that abuse them. Flagging programs within the member states of the Northern Triangle only emphasize the need for robust foreign support, which the U.S. continues to provide.

Rob Sprankle
Photo: Flickr

U.S. foreign assistance to Central AmericaRecently, there has been an ongoing debate regarding U.S. foreign assistance to Central America with an emphasis on the countries in the Northern Triangle. The countries include Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. This topic has gained recent attention due to the ongoing border crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Some government officials believe cutting aid will improve the crisis while others believe it will enhance the problem.

Foreign Aid

President Donald Trump announced in April 2019 that he would cut aid to countries in the Northern Triangle. President Trump believed that this decision was an appropriate response to limit the number of refugees from these countries who seek asylum in the U.S. He used this tactic as a punishment directed at Central American governments for allowing record levels of displaced persons to migrate to the U.S. border.

On the other side of the debate, U.S. foreign assistance to Central America may actually be what is necessary to curb this problem. In Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador there are multiple factors that contribute to why people are leaving their homelands. People are seeking asylum in the U.S to escape crime, poverty, corruption and violence.

What Does U.S. Assistance Do in Central America?

The U.S. funds in the Northern Triangle assist a variety of programs. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports increasing security and economic development, ensuring human rights and working towards a more self-reliant population among other projects.

  • El Salvador: In El Salvador, the State Department and USAID projects aided 50 towns by integrating the police force with a community-level crime prevention plan. In these areas, homicide rates shrunk by an average of 61 percent from 2015 to 2017. The El Salvadorian government expanded its yearly revenue by $350 million with the help of a $5 million investment from the U.S. that helped to reform El Salvador’s tax system.
  • Guatemala: In Guatemala, USAID leveraged more than $7 million in private investment, which in turn, helped more than 230,000 children with nutritional support. In the agricultural sector, USAID helped promote the advancement of sales for rural farmers by 51 percent. This aid also helped to create 20,000 new agricultural jobs.
  • Honduras: USAID, in collaboration with Feed the Future, helped lift 89,000 people out of extreme poverty. They also convinced the Honduran government to invest $56 million into the program. USAID and the State Department also helped to drastically reduce homicide rates in dangerous neighborhoods. Through community policing and youth programs backed by the U.S., murder rates dropped by 78 percent between 2013 and 2016 in at-risk communities.

U.S. Strategy for Central America

The U.S. plan for Central America is a bipartisan, multi-year plan that promotes institutional improvements and sparks conversation about developmental challenges. There are three different facets to this strategy.

  1. Promoting prosperity: In the Northern Triangle, USAID projects helped to create nearly 30,000 jobs in 2017 and more than 18,000 in 2018. Furthermore, the U.S. helped facilitate more than $73 million in exports and domestic sales. U.S.-led projects also fostered comradery and interconnectivity between different countries, which led to the formation of new organizations. In May 2016, the Mexico and Central America Interconnection Commission was established. This organization will help to advance power market integration, which will decrease power costs in the territory and increase economic activity.
  2. Enhancing security: U.S. backing makes it easier for regional governments to stop illegal narcotics from reaching the U.S. In 2018, Honduras seized almost 45,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics. U.S. foreign assistance to Central America also helps countries outside of the Northern Triangle. With the help of the U.S., Costa Rica seized more than 35,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics. The enhanced security also got dangerous gang members off the streets. In September 2017, U.S. support helped coordinate an operation that led to the arrests of nearly 4,000 gang members in the U.S. and Northern Triangle countries.
  3. Improving Governance: The U.S. projects help support the improvement of tax collection and fiscal transparency in the countries in the Northern Triangle. This leads to improved effectiveness of public spending and helps professionalize the civil service. In Guatemala, this service limited the number of steps needed to submit a customs and tax complaint, which made it easier to prompt an investigation.

Many politicians believe that it would be a bad idea to cut funding to Central America. “We will work with our colleagues in Congress to do everything in our power to push back on the President’s misguided approach to Central America,” said House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY). Across the aisle, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted, “Reducing support to CentAm and closing the border with Mexico would be counterproductive.”

U.S. foreign assistance to Central America currently remains a controversial issue in the U.S. But, the statistics don’t lie. Foreign aid has helped the countries in the Northern Triangle. Cutting that aid will not slow the stream of immigrants trying to enter the U.S., but making improvements to the countries through continued aid might.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about violence in honduras
In Honduras, the homicide rate is currently 43.6 per 100,000, meaning for every 100,000 of Honduras’ inhabitants, about 44 people will be murdered every year. With this statistic alone, it is easy to see Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. However, by evaluating the implemented solutions working to combat violence, homicides in Honduras appear to be dropping; raising the possibility of losing its position as the murder capital of the world. Here are 10 facts about violence in Honduras.

10 Facts About Violence in Honduras

  1. Murder – In 2011 Honduras experienced a peak in murder rates making Honduras the holder of the highest homicide rate in the world. Between 2011 and 2015, the murder rate in Honduras decreased by 30 percent. Homicides went down from 88.5 per 100,000 residents to 60.0 per 100,000 and have remained constant or decreased slowly depending on the year. However, in Honduras, only 4 percent of reported homicide cases result in arrest showing there is still lots of room for improvement.
  2. Lack of Trust – Police and judicial systems in Honduras suffer from corruption, lack of training and a list of cases so long that even honest, well-equipped officials struggle to keep up. As a result, members of the most vulnerable Honduran communities often do not trust the police, public prosecutors or judges to do their jobs. Fearing retaliation from violent perpetrators, they often refuse to provide witness testimony necessary to bring about a conviction. This causes Honduran judicial officials to lose trust in victims. This lack of trust and support fuels a vicious cycle of violence and impunity that has contributed to Honduras’ status as one of the most violent countries in the world. The Special Commission to Purge and Reform the Honduran Police is working to rid the force of corrupt leaders, strengthen public and police relations and reorganize their internal and external goals. Today, the Special Commission to Purge and Reform the Honduran Police has put in nearly 15 months of work and suspended or removed 5,000 police from the force.
  3. Poverty – Poverty and violence are directly related, and they work together to generate difficult living conditions in Honduras. As of 2017, 64 percent of Honduras’ population lives in poverty. Further, Honduras has the second smallest middle class in Latin America, at only 10.9 percent of the population. A larger middle class would result in stronger public institutions, stronger economic growth and greater societal stability. Therefore, Honduras would see lower levels of violence because of stronger societal relations. Working to stem both violence and increase economic opportunities is the key to sustainable development.
  4. Illegal Drug Trade – Central America serves as a transit point for at least 80 percent of all cocaine shipments between the Andean region and North America. Criminal groups in Honduras are very aware of this and profit primarily from drug trade and extortion as well as kidnapping for ransom and human trafficking. In February 2019, authorities in Honduras arrested four Colombian citizens caught in an attempt to smuggle over 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United States through a remote region of the country’s eastern coast. This is one example of thousands.
  5. Gangs – Gang presence in Honduras is common in poor urban areas and where territory is controlled by members of rival gangs, the most powerful being the Mara Salvatrucha and the Barrio 18. The most common age for Honduran gang members is between 12 and 30. Gangs constitute a real but often misunderstood feature of these 10 facts about violence in Honduras. While there is little doubt that they are involved in significant levels of violence, gangs are highly diverse and linked more to localized insecurity rather than the transnational danger ascribed to them by the media and certain policymakers. It is understood that 40 percent of gang members claim to be involved in gangs to ‘hang out,’ 21 percent because they had gang member friends and 21 percent to evade family problems. There is also a correlation between youth unemployment and gang membership: only 17 percent of gang members were employed and 66 percent actively characterized themselves as unemployed.
  6. Domestic Violence – One woman is murdered every 16 hours in Honduras, and the country has the highest femicide rate in the world. Shocking numbers of rape, assault and domestic violence cases are reported. However, 95 percent of cases of sexual violence and femicide in Honduras were never investigated in the year 2014. As mentioned above, widespread underreporting is likely to be linked to the lack of trust in governmental figures such as police and judicial systems. Rape is widespread and is employed to discipline girls, women and their family members for failure to comply with demands. In Honduras, there is a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes and the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women is the norm rather than the exception.
  7. Honduras Youth – The expansion of gangs and the increase in violence is linked to the lack of opportunities for the youth of the country. Many young Hondurans turn to gangs for their welfare protection and identity construction because they see no other way. Gangs emerge in this context as an option that is often desired for the marginal youth as it provides a form of transition from adolescence to adulthood. About 2 percent of females go completely uneducated, compared to 3 percent of males. Likewise, secondary school lasts between two to three years between the ages of 13 and 16, and 38 percent of females drop out compared to 33 percent of males.
  8. The Public and Prevention – In areas with low levels of violence, residents have taken incidents of crime and made an effort to minimize conditions that might allow violence to thrive. Kindernotheilfe has partnered with the community-formed group Sociedad más Justa (ASJ). They are dedicated to improving the living conditions of children and young people in Tegucigalpa and protecting them from violent abuse. Since 2004, parents, children, young people, teachers, churches, justice officials, city administrations and other NGOs have gotten involved. Some of their help include psychological and legal counseling, neighborhood patrolling and organized children’s clubs and activities.
  9. USAID and Honduras Citizen Security – On Sept. 30, 2016, the U.S. Agency for International Development programs for Honduras invested in a $34.17 million project lasting until Feb. 13, 2021. They are working to support the Government of Honduras’ efforts to improve the service delivery of justice institutions; increase the capacity of police to work with targeted communities; and incorporate respect for human rights to help reduce violence, decrease impunity and implement human rights standards within government institutions. During the third quarter of year one, they achieved key targets, including launching five city events, holding an international conference, instituting a Supreme Court Innovation Committee, connecting with the LGBTQI committee and collaborating with other donor programs.
  10. The Peace and Justice Project – The Peace and Justice Project provides investigative, legal and psychological support for people with few resources who have been victims of violent crimes and push for structural change in Honduras’ security and justice systems. The project has a 95 percent conviction rate, almost 24 times the national average. This has reduced the impunity rate in key communities from 4 percent convictions to 60 percent convictions for violent crimes, while also reducing the overall homicide rate drastically. Over the last 10 years, 600 lives have been saved through interventions in these violent communities.

These 10 facts about violence in Honduras prove that while strides have been made, violence in Honduras is still a major global concern. Communities and citizens of Honduras should continue to make a difference by demanding higher standards and continuing prevention actions. Furthermore, other nations should continue to support by becoming involved in helping strengthen institutional, governmental and police and judicial systems to see long term change.

Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Honduras
As one of the largest and poorest countries in Central America, Honduras faces several obstacles in girls’ education. The people of Honduras fear gang violence and human trafficking. Child labor and domestic violence are also issues that the government continues to combat. These are only a few facts that impact education in Honduras and the reasons why one in three Honduran girls drop out of school every year. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Honduras include problems connected to cultural attitudes, quality of education, and the issues related to crime.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Honduras

  1. Primary school (ages 6 to 12) is compulsory and free to all Honduran children. There is an 80 percent rate of completion of primary school nationally. In 2014, the Honduran Ministry of Education created a Strategic Plan that was designed to correct educational issues at every level. One of the first steps was to make the first two years of secondary school mandatory. Coverage of secondary education level for girls is 53 percent, whereas coverage for boys is 46 percent.
  2. A national survey indicates that girls in urban settings have a 7 percent illiteracy rate, compared to 5.5 percent of illiterate urban boys. Additionally, 16.8 percent of girls in rural settings are illiterate, while 17.5 percent of rural boys are illiterate. Higher rates of poverty correlate directly with higher rates of illiteracy. This is because poorer families, typically those in rural areas, are only able to send their girls to school for 5.8 years, which dramatically increases rates of illiteracy. On the other hand, wealthier families in the larger cities are able to send girls to school for 11 years, which lowers female adult illiteracy to 2.4 percent.
  3. From 2008 to 2012, 98 percent of Honduran girls were enrolled in primary school. However, in Honduras, one out of four children are drop-outs. Interestingly, drop-out rates have been linked to the level of parental education as 78 percent of children who dropped out of school in 2016 had parents with either no education or primary education only.
  4. A 2015 study indicates that 29 percent of girls performed unsatisfactorily in math, while 62 percent were classed as needing improvement. For boys, performance in the same category resulted in 32 percent unsatisfactory and 60 percent needing improvement. In addition to performing at lower rates than Honduran boys, performance standards for Honduran girls are significantly lower than other regional Latin countries.
  5. Because of high rates of crime, girls in urban settings are often forced to not attend class or drop-out altogether for fear of their own safety. For urban girls, the threat of harassment and sexual assault from gang members is a debilitating reality. Gangs often establish their dominance in an area of a city by murdering girls and leaving their mutilated bodies to be found in public places.
  6. While rural areas have less crime, the people living in rural settings have more pressing financial concerns. Many rural children in Honduras are forced to work at a young age, and girls, in particular, are tasked with taking care of younger siblings, as well as marrying young and starting families of their own. A 2014 program launched by Population Services International called Chicas en Conexión aims to empower nearly 700 rural girls to make choices about their own lives. The program also promotes equality by involving community leaders, providing safe spaces, and lobbying for equality legislation.
  7. Not only children suffer from the country’s impoverished educational system. Teachers in rural areas have difficulty obtaining up-to-date and functional teaching materials, as well as facing the issue of inadequate school buildings. However, teachers are fighting back. By partnering with the U.N. Refugee Agency, teachers in Honduras are making their voices heard and advocating for better policies to reduce the systemic shortfalls in the Honduran educational system. The Honduran Ministry of Education has promised to increase school funding and implement a prevention and protection strategy for schools by 2020.
  8. In 2014, only 24.4 percent of girls enrolled in college courses, significantly less than many other developed countries in the region. Moreover, even for girls who have higher education, there is a much lower chance of being hired for work outside of the home. In 2018, women made up only 37 percent of the labor force. This is due to the cultural custom of women working inside the home.
  9. An estimated 26 percent of Honduran women become mothers before the age of 18, which contributes to the high drop-out rates of Honduran girls. In 2013, the Committees for the Prevention of Pregnancies and STIs among Adolescents (COPEITSA), a peer-education sexual health program for Honduran children, was launched. The program teaches sexual health and family planning- topics that are all but afterthoughts in Honduran education and public awareness.
  10. As recently as 2016, 34 percent of girls were married before the age of 18. However, in 2017, the Honduran government banned child marriage. Even with parental permission, it is now illegal in Honduras for anyone over 18 to be married. This is a drastic change from past decades, where child marriage was common and kept girls uneducated and in poverty.

Since 2007, the rate of education for girls has almost doubled in Honduras. Even taking into account school performance and drop-out rates included in the text above, the number of girls being enrolled in school and pursuing secondary education has improved over the last decade. It is clear from the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Honduras that many of the new changes implemented by the Honduran government are designed to favor girls. This is an effort to address mistakes made in the past and correct the systematic failure of girl’s education in Honduras. As of 2014, the Strategic Plan set forth by the Honduran Ministry of Education has addressed many of the pitfalls in their education system. The Honduran government continues to create legislation designed to promote equality for girls and better the educational prospects of girls nationwide.

– Rachel Kingsley
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Honduras
Honduras, a small country between Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, is home to 9 million people, some of whom are direct descendants of the Mayan civilization.

Both rural and metropolitan regions of Honduras have enormous hurdles to overcome, but in recent years, they have made considerable strides toward ensuring long-term prosperity and security.

In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras that detail the successes and setbacks of the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Honduras

  1. In 2016, the Honduran government declared a national emergency regarding the Zika virus. In response to the emergency, cooperation with various humanitarian aid organizations, such as UNICEF and the national child protection institution called Direccion de Infancia, Adolescencia y Familia (DINAF), resulted in a 99 percent decrease in newly reported cases in 2017. While this reduction is a massive improvement, especially in the span of one year, there are still around 191 cases of Zika that require proper education and care.
  2. In recent years, the homicide rate in Honduras has fallen significantly. While the homicide rate decreased by approximately 30 percent between 2012 and 2016, it is still one of the highest in the world with 59.1 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants per year. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala form a particularly violent region plagued by political corruption, drug trafficking and post-war instability known as Central America’s Northern Triangle.
  3. A large portion of Honduras is part of the Dry Corridor. The Dry Corridor is an area of Central America that has been experiencing prolonged and more frequent droughts in recent history. This area covers the central-southern region of Honduras that are often hit by water shortages and dwindling agricultural yields. In years of extreme weather conditions, crop losses are reported to be as high as 60 percent in areas of maize production and 80 percent in regions of beans.
  4. Food insecurity remains a serious problem, especially in rural areas. In the past four years, ceaseless drought has amplified this issue. Twenty-three percent of children under the age of 5 across the country experience stunted growth. The rate of stunting jumps up to 40 percent in areas of the Dry Corridor.
  5. The poverty rate in Honduras is among the highest in Central America. Data from 2016 show that more than 66 percent of the total population is living in poverty, with higher concentrations along the southern, western and eastern borders. These are rural areas that overlap significantly with the Dry Corridor, creating a region where roughly 20 percent of the people experience extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day.
  6. Honduras relies heavily on the production of renewable energy. Out of the total electricity produced in Honduras, 32 percent comes from a combination of different renewables, and in addition, 25 percent comes from hydroelectric alone. This positions Honduras above the United States, Japan and Spain in global rankings measuring a country’s percentage of total electricity produced from renewable sources. One plant in Nacaome has created more than 300 jobs since it’s development and more similar projects are underway all across Honduras.
  7. The city of San Pedro Sula in northwestern Honduras was once known as the most violent city in the world. Pervasive drug cartel presence in the area fuels much of the violence. In 2013, the murder rate was at staggering 168 homicides per 100,000 people. In 2015, the city was able to rid itself of this undesirable title after local government partnered with UNICEF Honduras, Asociacion Colaboracion y Esuerzo, the Ministry of Education and many other organizations to develop programs focused on providing educational resources for young people and families who are victims of the violence.
  8. Sanitation and clean drinking water are nowhere near ubiquitous for the most vulnerable populations in Honduras. More than 630,000 people lack access to clean drinking water and one million lack access to sanitary human waste management facilities. In 2004, the World Bank funded Honduras Water and Sanitation Sector Modernization Project that decentralized water and sanitation utilities, giving more control to small municipalities. The project has improved water services for 108,000 families and sanitation services for almost 4,000 families.
  9. The distribution of wealth and resources is among the worst in the world. According to the most recent World Bank data on income disparity, Honduras is the second most inequitable country in Central America. Urban areas possess the vast majority of wealth and resources. More than half of the population that is considered to be living in extreme poverty resides in rural areas, many of whom are indigenous peoples.
  10. Access to reliable sources of credit is limited but improving. For the most susceptible parts of Honduras, micro-lending programs are providing solutions outside of traditional banks. In addition to proving more than 400,000 Hondurans living in rural areas with financial education and services, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has created a microcredit program in the form of 77 local investment projects that are facilitating entrepreneurship in 26 municipalities in western Honduras.

The urban centers of Honduras are making significant advances in the face of extreme economic instability, sociopolitical strife and rampant crime.

In rural regions, a harsh, ever-changing climate looms while international aid programs focused on infrastructure, food security and financial independence provide crucial assistance.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras help illustrate that the country has the potential to drastically transform itself to better serve its people, as well as the global community.

– John Chapman
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in HondurasHonduras is the second-poorest country in Latin America and one of the poorest in the world. Approximately 1 in 5 Hondurans are living below the poverty line, in what can be defined as extreme poverty. Along with high rates of poverty come many issues—hunger being one of the biggest. The following are the top 10 facts about hunger in Honduras.

List of Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Honduras

  1. Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity in Honduras. When families do not know where their next meal is coming from, it leads to chronic hunger. A lack of food causes undernutrition in children and can promote the spread of disease.
  2. Rural areas are the most affected by limited food supply. Over half of Honduras’ extremely poor live in rural environments. When homes are isolated and not proximate to urban centers, access to food becomes even more restricted.
  3. Erratic weather patterns in Honduras worsens food insecurity. Honduras has experienced extreme droughts, during which many crops are lost and are no longer a reliable source of nourishment.
  4. Honduras lies in what is called the ‘Dry Corridor’, an area in Central America that is particularly susceptible to irregular and long-lasting droughts. Around 58 percent of children living in the Dry Corridor are undernourished and have stunted growth as a result. Weather is a major contributor to hunger in Honduras.
  5. Nonprofits have stepped up to help during periods of drought. The Honduras Livelihoods and Food and Nutrition Security in the Dry Corridor (ACS-GAFSP) was established after the country saw one of its most severe droughts in 2015 and 2016. The project mainly focuses on increasing food production and income generation, hoping to lift up to 50,000 Honduran families out of poverty.
  6. A lack of education on nutrition contributes to undernourishment. Many of the poor, living in Honduras, are not properly educated on nutritional awareness which leads to nutrient deficiencies. A poorly diversified diet also often leads to stunting in children.
  7. In children under 5 in Honduras, stunting levels are at 23 percent. This rate is tangible evidence of chronic undernourishment in children. In the Dry Corridor area, stunting rates can reach up to 40 percent.
  8. The WFP is working with the Honduran government to decrease hunger-related issues. It is trying to increase the resilience of those working in the agriculture sector in order to create a more steady supply of food. They are also trying to assist vulnerable families affected by food insecurity.
  9. High rates of hunger lead to high rates of migration. If there is no access to food in their home country, Hondurans are more likely to migrate to countries like the U.S. in hopes of having a better life. The WFP released a report in which Hondurans listed “no food” as their main reason for emigration.
  10. A lack of quality diet can also lead to unhealthy rates of obesity. Around 51 percent of women of reproductive age in Honduras are overweight. Reliable access to healthy foods would significantly mitigate this issue.

Hunger in Honduras is an ongoing problem, mostly due to less than ideal weather patterns that prevent the growth of steady crops. Malnutrition leads to many other issues like stunting and high rates of migration. The many nonprofits working toward feeding Hondurans provide hope for a bright future in Honduras.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

Village Partners Works to Relieve Poverty in Honduras
Each May and January, students from William Jewell College participate in a Village Partners Project trip to Honduras in an effort to alleviate poverty in its rural villages. Village Partners is a non-profit created and based out of William Jewell that works to create sustainable change in developing communities through asset-based community development.

The Borgen Project’s Savannah Hawley also had the opportunity to interview Jeff Buscher, co-creator of Village Partners, who provided many insightful perspectives on the organization’s activities, purpose and successes.

Who Are Village Partners?

Since its founding in 2009, Village Partners has worked in three different rural Honduran villages, spending between three to four years working in each location.

Village Partners works with the communities in areas such as health, education, food security and social improvements. After creating a relationship with the people in the rural villages, the group makes a plan to help the community help themselves. That assistance can include anything from tilapia farming to starting schools.

Work in the villages does not occur only during the two 10-day trips taken by Jewell students. A director is employed year-round to oversee the progress in the village and ensure that improvements are always being made to the program. Village Partners also employs interns from a university in Honduras to aid in the year-round work in the village.

What Are Honduras’ Poverty Levels?

Honduras experiences the highest level of poverty in Latin America, with a poverty rate of over 66 percent. In rural areas, one of every five Hondurans lives below the poverty line on around $1.90 per day.

In 2017, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) listed Honduras’ GDP at $5,500 per capita. Their economy, in addition to other factors, ranks Honduras’ as 170 of 195 countries — a status that highlights its immense poverty.

It is for this reason that Jeff Buscher, co-creator of Village Partners, decided to target rural Honduran villages using asset-based work to alleviate poverty.

“The purpose of Village Partners is to work to create sustainable, healthy change in specific developing communities through cross-cultural experience…we work sometimes three to four years in each village to help them accomplish and realize their goals. We, for the most part, focus our efforts on community development work in rural villages where there’s a better opportunity for significant help and change,” he told The Borgen Project when describing the premise of Village Partners.

What is An Asset-Based Community?

Asset-based community development is a strategy Buscher and the other founders of Village Partners used to ensure that the work they do is both educational and sustainable to the villagers the group helps.

“First we listen to their situation, then we help them network to find partners who can help solve their problems. We do the asset-based community development in a way that it’s not dependant on Jewell students coming and staying with them…that way when we leave they’re still better off and not reliant on us,” Buscher said.

Hard Work, High Impact

According to the World Bank, around 45 percent of Honduras is classified as rural, which makes the work Village Partners does all the more crucial. Its focus on rural areas — especially alleviating poverty without significantly changing the village’s culture — is highly important.

Rural villages are more likely to be impoverished than city centers, where education and reform are implemented sooner than other parts of the country. With such circumstances, the work Village Partners does in rural villages is all the more critical and should improve the country as a whole. 

– Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr