Child Poverty In Honduras
Honduras, a country home to nine million people, is crippled by poverty, gang violence and a lack of education. Roughly 60% of the population of Honduras lives below the poverty line. The country is also known for having one of the highest crime and violence rates of all time. In terms of child poverty in Honduras, poverty impacts children in multiple ways, including health, safety and education. Nearly 75% of children use outdoor bathroom systems or open fields and 69% of 9-10 year-olds are infected with parasites because of this. Furthermore, 23% of Honduran children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. This article will explore the consequences of child poverty as well as efforts to address it.

Children and Gang Violence

Children face many dangers from exposure to gangs and gang violence in Honduras. Many children are too afraid to go to school because of the prevalence of gang members on the streets. A report from the Norweigan Refugee Council highlights the risks that Honduran children face, including pressure, sexual harassment and abuse.

Gang members have also successfully infiltrated Honduran schools and now promote the distribution of drugs to minors and attempt to recruit them. Families are also faced with pressure from gangs, often in the form of war taxes, which prohibits their ability to buy school supplies and uniforms.

Children and Education

The Honduran government provides free schooling until the sixth grade. However, when children in Honduras graduate from the sixth grade, many of them stop their education to support their families. After receiving a partial education, boys will often go to work in the fields while girls will stay at home to care for their families until marrying around the ages of 12-14 years old.

The lack of education in Honduras increases involvement in gangs, drugs and other dangerous behaviors in order to survive and to support their families. One organization working to alleviate this problem is the Honduras Good Works Secondary Education Scholarship Fund. This fund provides school supplies, transportation and school uniforms to children in Honduras.

Changing the Future for the Children

Children International, an NGO aimed at protecting and aiding children, works to address many of the issues facing Honduran children. Among their current projects is the distribution of annual parasite treatments and workshops about hygiene, the Sport Development and Youth Leadership Training program to alleviate pressures of gang violence and the Youth Health Corps that ensures equal rights for girls and boys. Children International has five centers on the ground in Honduras and focuses on combatting child poverty in Honduras.

Save The Children is another organization working to better the futures of children in Honduras. With the support of generous donations, this organization was able to aid 141,000 children in Honduras just last year, and more specifically have raised 36,000 children from poverty. Save The Children is currently working to promote food security for families in coffee-producing areas, addressing causes of migration and training government officials on the prevention of trafficking.

Moving Forward

Child poverty in Honduras continues to impact millions of children across the country. Fortunately, organizations like Children International and Save The Children are stepping in to help. Moving forward, it is essential that these efforts and others continue to prioritize alleviating child poverty and ensuring better livelihoods for children in Honduras.

Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Blockchain-Based Land Registry in HondurasProof of land ownership is an essential tool to protect the livelihoods of those who depend on livestock and agriculture to feed their families and earn an income. However, in many developing countries such as Honduras, systems of land registry are unreliable and prone to corrupt manipulation, leaving farmers vulnerable to unlawful land seizures. Blockchain-based land registry aims to address this.

Blockchain-Based Land Registry

Despite this, the rise of blockchain technology has brought about a potential solution to undependable land registry systems. Providing a secure system of digitized land titles does more than protect property rights. It also gives farmers the ability to borrow against their land assets to raise capital, which could be used to invest in their businesses and broaden their economic opportunities. Blockchain-based land registries can be used to protect Hondurans’ land ownership rights.

Land Theft in Honduras

In 2015, the government of Honduras reached out to Factom, a U.S.-based blockchain technology company, to develop a nationwide land registry system. This decision came in light of the growing threat of land title fraud in Honduras, which would often occur at the hands of bureaucrats hacking the existing government land title database to steal land for personal use.

In a country with rampant corruption and unsecured land registry systems, Honduran farmers are at risk of falling into poverty and displacement at the hands of government officials or powerful landowners seeking to broaden their commercial agricultural holdings. A secure system of registry built with blockchain technology would provide a solution to this problem.

Stalled Efforts in Implementation

Although Honduras reached out for assistance in building a secure system, by the end of 2015, efforts to develop it stalled due to the government’s unwillingness to continue the effort. Nonetheless, there is still hope for the eventual continuation of the project, as it has the backing of the World Bank and other international donors.

Blockchain-based land registry systems represent an optimal solution for Honduran farmers because of their unique security. These systems track transactions with a timestamped digital signature and store them in a connected, distributed array of computers scattered around the internet. The digital signature tracks the history of ownership, thereby making the land title unsusceptible to tampering. Furthermore, blockchain technologies can utilize GPS coordinates to describe the exact dimensions of each claimed land parcel and pair it with the digital ID of the owner. The result is a secure system that protects farmers’ rights to land ownership.

The Intersection of Tech and Poverty

Innovations in technology and the spread of internet access are crucial in the fight against global poverty. Blockchain-based land registry solutions enable farmers to protect their livelihoods and invest in expanding and diversifying their agricultural yields. As more farmers better their economic situations and poverty levels decline, the demand for consumer goods rises, which bolsters trade and the wider global economy.

Investing in solutions to global poverty thus entails a two-way path of rewards: developing countries are lifted out of poverty and developed countries establish a connection with a new trading partner. When one country is lifted out of poverty, every country benefits.

– John Andrikos
Photo: Flickr

Stopping Gang Violence Success Stories from Within HondurasHonduras is trapped in a cycle of violence and poverty that creates the perfect environment for gangs to thrive. Reports state that gangs and drug traffickers pay off members of the criminal justice system to get away with their crimes. However, despite these injustices, violent crime rates have dropped by half over the last decade as community outreach programs join humanitarian organizations’ efforts in stopping gang violence.

Poverty in Honduras

In 2018, Honduras had a poverty rate of 48.3%. Inequality in the country has led to an extremely small middle class and a large income gap. Gangs feed off of poverty and a lack of government services. Moreover, gangs become the only way young people could get an income and find a semblance of a supportive community.

Honduras has a Corruption Perception Index score of 26 out of 100, which is directly reflected in the fear citizens have of reporting crimes. Gang members can be killed for attempting to leave a gang and many businesses are forced to pay “war taxes” for protection. Luckily, nonprofits and community outreach programs have arisen to intervene in this cycle of violence. Here are a few anti-violence success stories from within Honduras.

The Association For a More Just Society

The Association For a More Just Society (AJS) is a nonprofit that works to create strong community bonds to dissuade violence in Honduras. In terms of working against corruption, AJS investigates and publishes reports about the health care and education sectors. Additionally, they hold youth services in small Honduran communities.

AJS has had remarkable success in terms of reporting cases of corruption by the government and wealthy elites in Honduras. In the public health sector, AJS found that the government purposely overpaid connected businesses for medical supplies and ignored cases of theft. Its reports led to the arrest of 13 officials and increased access to life-saving medication in public hospitals.

The organization also reported corruption in education as teachers who were not showing up to work were being paid and the average student only had 125 school days available to them. The Honduran government had the highest spending budget on education in the region, yet its test scores were still very low. AJS has reduced the percentage of non-working paid teachers from 26% to 1%. Additionally, many schools now hold an average of 200 days of school.

Skate Brothers

Skate Brothers is a community outreach program that was started by the Honduras local, Jessel Edgardo Recinos. He was shot at the age of 16 after being accused of stealing a cell phone from a prominent gang member. This near-death experience inspired Recinos to create a community youth program that taught kids about skateboarding instead of violence.

The group provides a place for Honduran youth to gather after school with friends while learning fun skills like skateboarding, BMX bike riding and rollerskating. Additionally, Slate Brothers provide counseling services to prevent youth from joining gangs. The group performs in parades and street fairs as well as volunteers for the community.

Recinos has convinced members of his youth group to leave gangs and join his community outreach group instead. His goal is to create a supportive community that serves as an alternative to gangs and does not mandate illegal activity. Skate Brothers is one of 64 outreach programs created by USAID’s Honduran Youth Alliance, which now serves 34,000 youth around the country.

Looking Ahead

While gangs in Honduras is still a major issue, nonprofits and community support programs like AJS and Skate Brothers have been instrumental in stopping gang violence. The cycle of violence, poverty and corruption is beginning to break because of the dedication of AJS and the Honduran Youth Alliance. Reciono’s creation of Skate Brothers shows how people in impoverished communities can inspire their peers to join them in stopping gang violence.

– Olivia Welsh
Photo: Flickr

Covid-19 in Central America
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have left no region of the world unscathed. Central America and Mexico have certainly felt the wrath of this virus. Recent outbreaks in the region threaten to compound upon other humanitarian struggles. The U.S. has recognized this challenge and taken action to provide aid, despite facing its own issues fighting the coronavirus — the difficulties of COVID-19 in Central America and Mexico are vast.

An Issue in Central America & Mexico Before COVID-19

COVID-19 poses a health and economic challenge to Central America and Mexico. Yet, before the pandemic, the region was already suffering from poverty. As such, the pandemic has hit this area particularly hard. Our World in Data projected that the extreme poverty rate was about 8.12% in Guatemala, 14.24% in Honduras, 2.79% in El Salvador and 1.96% in Mexico in 2019. The full economic impacts of COVID-19 are not yet known.

Apart from facing extreme poverty — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico also suffer from high crime rates. In 2017, Guatemala had an intentional homicide rate of about 26.1 per 100,000, Honduras had 41.7, El Salvador had 61.8 and Mexico had 24.8.

Providing sustainable assistance to Central America is particularly important for the national security in the U.S. As of July 2019, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition explained that there is a correlation between children seeking refuge in the U.S. and murders in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Aid to these three countries could reduce poverty and crime. Consequently, the number of people searching for safety in the U.S. may potentially decrease.

The US Steps Up

The U.S. has committed to providing more than $22 million for Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The aid focuses on key areas of need. For example, the U.S. committed $850,000 in Migration and Refugee Assistance funding in Mexico. This includes funding for the dissemination of hygiene products and assistance creating a remote program to register asylum seekers and hold interviews.

The U.S. also committed to providing almost $6.6 million in aid to El Salvador, more than $8.4 million to Guatemala and more than $5.4 million to Honduras. Notably, these aid packages contain International Disaster Assistance for each country. The assistance also focuses on immediate and long-term health needs.

In recent months, the U.S. has also provided other forms of support to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Notable aid includes investments in critical infrastructures, such as energy programs. This is an important step in reducing poverty in the region. However, continued aid and investment are necessary to fight COVID-19 in Central America, save lives, reduce poverty and protect U.S. national security.

Global Help

This aid is a substantial sum targeted in areas that most need money to help fight COVID-19. However, there is more than the U.S. could do to protect global health. Global health spending has remained mostly constant for the past 10 years. Now, the future of U.S. global health aid is at-risk. The federal government’s spending on global health could reduce to its lowest point in 13 years if the proposed budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year receives approval. This could exacerbate outbreaks of other diseases that the U.S. has historically fought against. Without aid from the U.S., other nations such as China will have to step in as a global leader during this crisis.

Kayleigh Crabb
Photo: Pixabay

Homelessness in Honduras
As of the end of 2017, homelessness in Honduras was a prevalent issue. In fact, the IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center) reported that there were at least 432,000 IDPs (Internal Displacements) in the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of them left cities due to high rates of homicide and “levels of violence comparable to that of war zones.”

With Honduras having a high economic rate over the past years, reports have still determined that more than 60% of Hondurans live in poverty. In 2016, Habitat for Humanity estimated that the housing deficit for Honduras was over 1 million units. Meanwhile, in 2018, more than 17,000 people experienced displacement due to natural disasters and violence. Among these stark numbers, the topic of street children in Honduras has broken the ice as one organization reported that “an estimate 6,000 adolescents live on the streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula alone” and about 800,000 minors do not attend school or have employment. Here is some information about child homelessness in Honduras.

Child Homelessness in Honduras

Unfortunately, the reality for these children is more than not having a roof over their heads or beds to sleep in. Most of these kids have to earn their wages by selling artifacts, washing windows and begging as a means of survival. For those who are pushed to the limits, joining a street gang might be their only option as they seek a means for protection and ultimate survival.

The push to join the infamous “mara” gangs of Honduras has presented an even greater danger as Honduran children have increasingly participated in the frontlines of gang violence. The New York Times reported that, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, “in 2012, the number of murder victims ages 10 to 14 had doubled to 81 from 40 in 2008.” Due to this violence, families have taken the extreme measure of sending their children to the U.S./Mexico border to seek refuge. In 2014, in a span of 4 months, more than 2,200 children arrived at the border from the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras.

While Honduras saw the pertinence of child homicide rates, rather than alleviating the problem through increased social services, the Government of Honduras liquidated the Honduran Institute for Children and Families, which had run since 1998, in May 2014. The Government also closed all the children’s shelters along with it. Its reason for the cut in funding came from the ineffectiveness of political appointees who used 90% of the budget to pay salaries. Along with that, as nonprofit youth shelter Casa Alianza began to increasingly report on the high murder rate of children, the government denied the evidence and turned its face on the issue.

Casa Alianza

With the lack of government assistance, local and international NGOs have had to step up to provide shelter. Covenant House, or Casa Alianza, is just one of these organizations that hope to serve the homeless youth community. Casa Alianza opened its doors in Honduras back in 1987 and was the second Latin American site for the larger organization, Covenant House. Its methodology is simple; it gains the children’s trust by providing a safe and engaging environment and then either helps them return to their families or offers to allow them to stay at its residence centers. Jose Guadalupe Ruelas, the executive director of Casa Alianza, reported that thousands of children have found a home through this nonprofit shelter for homeless youth.

Combined with the stress of finding a proper meal and a place to sleep, homeless children in Honduras have been facing daily struggles of keeping themselves safe from street gangs and hoping not to become another number on a “murder rate” statistic. The constant danger and lack of funding from governmental agencies exacerbate the problem of child homelessness in Honduras further.

While organizations like Casa Alianza have provided much-needed assistance to this vulnerable population, governmental support and advocacy are necessary in order to properly address this concerning issue.

– Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr

Honduras Uses U.S. Foreign AidAs one of the poorest countries in Central America, Honduras is one of the three countries in the region that receives U.S. foreign aid. However, in 2019, U.S. foreign aid to Central America came to a halt. The U.S. government denied foreign aid meant for three countries in the region: El-Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. According to NPR, mass amounts of refugees migrating north caused the U.S. to suspend aid. In April of 2020, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a press statement ensuring the resumption of foreign aid to Central America. Despite the reassurance of continuing U.S. support in the future, the suspension of foreign aid left many programs and people in Honduras without their usual financial support. Honduras alone has requested over $65 million in U.S. foreign aid for 2020. With U.S. lawmakers doubting the effectiveness of this type of financial support, here’s how Honduras uses U.S. foreign aid.

Maintaining Governance

Honduras uses U.S. foreign aid to maintain its governance. In 2018, Honduras spent $55 million on agencies that provide government assistance. These agencies encourage public participation in government and make sure governments maintain checks and balances and separation of powers. In short, these agencies keep the government ethical, honest and accountable to the people. USAID funded this entire sector of Honduras’ U.S. foreign aid. As a U.S. foreign agency, USAID works to strengthen democratic institutions and citizen participation in Honduras.

Human Rights

In 2018, Honduras spent about $6 million on preserving human rights under the law. Honduras uses U.S. foreign aid to fund many agencies that protect international human rights. Partially funded by USAID, Honduras’ human rights agencies ensure that all people find justice and fairness under the law. The U.S.-Honduras Bilateral Human Rights Working Group, a product of USAID, works to strengthen human rights institutions, citizen security and migration issues in Honduras. Without U.S. foreign aid funding human rights groups, vulnerable impoverished Hondurans, who are most susceptible to human rights violations, would have decreased legal resources.

Agriculture

Honduras spent $11 million on its agriculture industry in 2019 and $22 million in 2018. The country’s economy relies heavily on the international trade of its agriculture. The agricultural industry also employs 39% of the population in Honduras. With a large section of the population relying on agriculture as income, investing in agriculture is imperative to the country’s economy. Because of Honduras’ high poverty rate, a large part of the agriculture industry employs impoverished Hondurans. U.S. foreign aid is essential to the poverty-stricken portion of Honduras’ agriculture industry.

Education

Honduras uses U.S. foreign aid for considerable education development. In 2019, Honduras spent $24 million on basic education. This includes improving early childhood, primary and secondary education in Honduras. USAID largely funds this sector of Honduras’ foreign aid. USAID works with Honduras’ education systems on education reform, teacher training and alternative education for many children who can’t afford secondary school. Without U.S. foreign aid, impoverished children in Honduras could lose access to basic education and alternative education.

Minimizing Crime

Crime is a serious problem in Honduras. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. However, in 2012 Honduras began investing in crime prevention agencies, and investment has been increasing ever since. Honduras spent $25 million of U.S. foreign aid on crime-prevention agencies in 2019 compared to less than $300,000 in 2014. These agencies provide training to combat international crime and corruption while promoting international cooperation. In correlation with investments in crime-prevention agencies, homicide rates in Honduras dropped drastically in 2012. This portion of U.S. aid directly impacts Honduras’ impoverished communities where violence is prevalent.

Conclusion

The suspension of U.S. foreign aid to Central America created some doubt in the usefulness of foreign aid. However, Honduras uses U.S. foreign aid to fund agencies that work to better some of the most serious and significant problems affecting Hondurans. Many of these agencies help the most vulnerable and impoverished populations in Honduras.

– Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

The Work of Global Pearls
Global Pearls, a nonprofit organization that emerged in 2016, aims to tackle the root causes of poverty in some of the world’s most marginalized communities. With projects spanning across Latin America, Africa and Asia, Global Pearls addresses issues such as inaccessibility to education, income inequality and violence prevention in developing countries. With 100% of every dollar donated going directly to programs, each project maximizes the positive impact it makes toward helping the world’s poor. Keep reading to learn more about the work of Global Pearls.

The Mission

Global Pearls seeks to reduce “suffering among marginalized populations in developing countries by empowering changemakers from within.” To empower such changemakers, Global Pearls supports and funds leaders in developing communities ready to tackle issues and bring about positive change.

Lack of Access to Education in Guatemala

In a country like Guatemala, where the poor are unable to access essential healthcare services, many children are abandoned or left on the streets. With more than 58% of Guatemalan children aged 7-14 working in the agriculture industry, many do not have access to funds for schooling, books and uniforms.

As a result, 18.5% of the population aged over 15 are unable to read or write. Children living on the street in Guatemala are also at a higher risk of engaging in physical violence to survive due to poverty, abuse and social exclusion.

Global Pearls Creates Change

Recognizing that over 10% of children ages 7-14 are unable to receive an education, the work of Global Pearls has extended to helping Sandra Alonzo Pac establish an educational scholarship program for children in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala called Estudia Con Amor. The program supports children who need additional funding from middle school through university. Street children involved in the program are also receiving help with clothing, food and medical costs. Because families living below the poverty line are more likely to keep their children out of school, children without education have a higher chance of living in poverty. Programs like Estudia Con Amor are essential in ending the cycle of poverty for struggling individuals.

Maria, a participant in the Estudia Con Amor scholarship program, discussed how she was unable to attend school with her mom working multiple jobs daily to support the family. She described her sadness when she saw the other children in the village walking to school with their backpacks, wishing that she could be one of them. With the help of the Estudia Con Amor Scholarship through Global Pearls, she began her studies, hoping to one day become a doctor.

Income Inequality in Honduras

Like Guatemala, attending traditional schools in Honduras is very difficult for children who travel long distances on foot to school. With Honduras holding the third-highest illiteracy rate in Central America due to income inequality, youth struggles to afford school and find job opportunities.

How Community Leaders in Honduras are Helping

Due to the cost of $100 a year to supply students with the textbooks and supplies they need for schooling, many poor students are unable to attend. With the help of Global Pearls, Sor Marta established a high school scholarship program for children who want to continue their education but cannot afford the cost.

Global Pearls Founder, Lisa Spader, embraces the idea that “you are capable of making your community better; you don’t need other people to make your community better.” Because of this, Spader urges the program participants to dream about what they want their future to look like and how that dream can become a reality with hard work and the right resources.

John, a 14-year old boy in the Honduras program, talked about how the Caja rural project has impacted his life: “I will not forget the day you arrived […] It was a rainy evening, and I was trembling with cold, but you hugged me, and I felt warmer. In that conversation, the idea of the Caja rural project became real […] Soon, I began leading my colleagues. This project has made a mark on my life in ways I could never have imagined […] You helped me find my life purpose. […] I know that starting a project changes the lives of those who start them. I know because I’m a living example.”

As a result of the program, John began the Caja rural project, which lends money to people to invest in microenterprises. He is now an active supporter in assisting others in finding their ways to better their community.

Prevalence of Violence in Honduras

People know gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 in Honduras for utilizing violence and threats to establish authority. As a result, Honduras is one of the world’s most violent places, with an average of 13 people murdered each day. With limited opportunity for youth, many young Hondurans resort to gang participation to protect welfare and identity.

Giving Resources to Youth

Recognizing the prevalence of this issue, community leader, Jeremias Vobada, who grew up in an orphanage on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula, founded a soccer program for over 100 youth with Global Pearls. The program helps to give them a safe space to grow and develop. He has also partnered with a local contractor to provide children interested in the electrical field the experience and skills necessary to construct solar panels. This necessary resource allows electricity to run in remote communities.

Looking Forward

In a continually evolving world, it is more important than ever to address pressing issues that face marginalized communities. Global Pearls recognizes empowered leaders who have a passion for changing their community but do not receive marketing worldwide. By funding and engaging in projects with these leaders, more children can attend school and make their future dreams a reality.

To learn more about the impactful work of Global Pearls and its projects, click here: https://globalpearls.org/.

– Erica Fealtman
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Honduras
“Shelter in place,” “stay at home” and “safer at home,” are just a few of the phrases the world has repeatedly heard over the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. These phrases act as a form of protection during this unprecedented time. However, around the world, not everyone can follow these guidelines because they may not have four walls to call home. During the first month of the virus’ presence in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, at least “three dozen informal economy workers” lost their homes. Men, women and children who once had an apartment now sleep in an underpass. In 2018, 48.3% of Honduras lived in poverty.

Background

Unfortunately, an underpass doesn’t shield those living in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world.” Kids, old people, women sleep here where it’s dangerous…the people on the streets are not animals,” reports an MSN article. San Pedro Sula ranks higher than Tegucigalpa in terms of murders per capita with 47 murders per 100,000 citizens. A large percentage of this violence is a result of gang-related activity. In March of this year, the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory ranked Honduras at Level 3, warning American citizens to reconsider travel plans to the country due to the high rate of crime. Since the country has a substantially high murder rate, homelessness in Honduras poses a number of threats.

In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Honduras’ government has taken steps to aid the country’s citizens. Food and personal-protection equipment has been delivered to around 3.2 million Hondurans. The homeless, however, cannot receive these door-to-door staples because they do not have doors to knock upon. Therefore, the homeless population is swept under the rug, forgotten.

Lack of Resources

Another issue weighs heavily upon the homeless population: a lack of resources. One U.S.-based NGO that is working to abet the homeless situation for the next generation of Hondurans is El Rancho Ebenezer. This Christian-based organization serves as a home for orphaned and homeless children between the ages of birth to 18 who cannot be adopted due to a lack of proper documentation. During the day, the younger children attend a bilingual school onsite while the older children venture out to the neighboring public school. In the afternoon, they return to their home on the ranch where they live with in-house counselors and two mentor parents.

Kimberly Solórzano of El Rancho Ebenezer spoke with The Borgen Project about homelessness in Honduras. In regard to homeless care centers, she said, “Most of the NGOs here are directed towards education, children’s centers, things like that…So as far as homeless adults, there is definitely, absolutely nothing done by the government.” Therefore, the cyclical nature of poverty remains unabated.

Corruption

Within this cycle lies corruption. Across the country, Hondurans find shelter on property that is not their own. These so-called “squatters” build shacks or homes out of anything they can find. Discarded metal, wooden planks and weathered mattresses become a safe haven to squatters. According to Solórzano, urban slum areas are often controlled by gangs or slum lords who have no actual legal authority over the land where squatters reside but charge the squatters a monetary fee in order to reap a substantial profit. With a fragile police force, this type of gang activity often goes unnoticed. If it happens to come across the hands of an officer, the overburdened judicial system most likely will not be able to bring the case to court. As of April 2020, Honduras’ judicial system had 180,000 cases that have yet to be processed, resulting in new cases being virtually impossible to resolve. Sadly, there is little being done to control gang violence, further increasing homelessness in Honduras.

This issue takes its toll in different ways. For mothers who beg and carry their babies on their hips all day, their children do not learn to walk or develop properly. Older kids and teenagers often turn to glue to soothe hunger pains. Young men can find financial stability and familial security in a life of crime. Although homelessness in Honduras looks substantially different for each person, there is one certainty — the United States can help make a difference. This has been made evident through the work of El Rancho Ebenezer and countless NGOs in Honduras with American ties. The stars and stripes continue to show that their resources stretch beyond the American border.

–  Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Honduras
Honduras is one of the countries of the Northern Triangle. Home to a large portion of Central America’s population, Honduras lies between El Salvador and Nicaragua. While 60% of Hondurans live below the poverty line, there has been promising economic development. However, due to the instability of natural disasters and trading, hunger in Honduras remains a significant concern.

Food Security

Due to poverty, hunger has become a lasting issue in Honduras. According to the Food Security Portal, approximately 1.5 million people in Honduras endure “chronic food insecurity.” With 36% of the population in extreme poverty, food security is difficult to achieve. Many cannot afford proper nutritious meals and often rely on fast food or small portions of food. Approximately 7.4% of children are underweight and 21% of adults who suffer from obesity. The country also does not provide its citizens with adequate education on proper nutrition.

Crime in Honduras often leads to more hunger. In 2017, the UN reported that Honduras had the fourth-highest homicide rate in the world. Partially dominated by gangs, around 2.7% of Hondurans were internally displaced from 2004 to 2018. Due to this additional obstacle, the government prioritizes eliminating criminal activity before food insecurity. However, according to studies conducted in neighboring country Venezuala, hunger often leads to crime and crime fosters hunger. This cycle highlights the need for programming to address hunger specifically. 

The Pandemic and Drought

The Honduran government implemented restrictions due to COVID-19 that are negatively affecting the economy. The government shut down all borders, preventing refugees to flee, restricted hospitals to treating a limited amount of patients, implemented curfews and narrowed the opening of shops. Many people who suffered from other prevalent sicknesses lack proper treatment. The food crisis prevents people from extreme poverty from eating, causing further malnutrition. This also prevents local businesses from earning enough to buy food and hinders people in poverty from affording food while unemployed. The pandemic will stifle the country’s economic boom by -2.3% in 2020 and a predicted -3.95% in 2021. 

Furthermore, severe weather conditions and climate change often disturb the agriculture of the country. The Dry Corridor of the country suffered from a four-year-long drought that continued into 2019. In addition, “erratic rainfall” caused 80% of crops to deteriorate in 2015. The mountainous terrain of farmland, tropical climate and dry weather often strain efforts made by the government to improve food security.

Mitigating Hunger

Humanitarian organizations are focusing their efforts on mitigating hunger in Honduras. Along with the World Food Programme (WFP), the government of Honduras implemented Zero Hunger Strategic Review (ZHSR) to determine approaches to alleviate hunger. WFP came up with a list of strategic outcomes for 2030 including year-round access to nutritional food for students enrolled in primary school, as well as for households affected by natural disasters. In addition, organizations like ChildFund International work provide food to children in need and educate them on healthy eating habits.

Although Honduras has some setbacks, the country is working to improve food security. Moving forward, it is essential that humanitarian organizations and the government of Honduras continue to make food security a priority, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Zoe Chao
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Honduras
Honduras is a large, scenic country located in Central America with a population of nearly 10 million people. Historically, its abundance of natural resources has staked it as a vigorous player in many international economic industries, namely agriculture and mining. The country has also grown in many statistical categories; its population, global rank and GDP growth rate have increased steadily in the last five years. Ostensibly, Honduras has a strong foundation for economic prosperity, which should be encouraging for all of its citizens and leaders. However, a closer examination reveals that these improvements mask poverty issues that the country continues to struggle with. This struggle leads to poor quality of life for the average citizen of Honduras. Here is some information about poverty in Honduras.

Economic Problems

The main problems that cause poverty in Honduras are wealth distribution and low income. These issues impact an alarmingly high percentage of the country’s population. According to the World Bank, about 48% of the population lives below the poverty line, which includes over 60% in rural areas. Urban areas exhibit a lower percentage of impoverished citizens, but it remains high among global standards. Honduras frequently ranks high globally on the GINI index, which calculates the level of economic disparity among classes, and hosts a diminutive middle class, making up a mere 11% of the population.

Employment rates are dismal as well, with unemployment/underemployment around 40% as of 2015. Underemployment manifests itself in two different ways: when a person is working a job not commensurate with their skills due to a lack of opportunity (invisible) and when a person is working insufficient hours at a job or receives insufficient pay to support their family (visible). An example of invisible underemployment is a local man who has the requisite talent and education to be a lawyer. A scarcity of opportunity in his area leads him to a mining job that pays less and is much more physically grueling. Underemployment is rampant in Honduras and contributes to a working-class that has low morale and scarce opportunity to excel in their field of choice.

Other Factors Affecting the Economy

Violence is the largest internal factor in punctuating the nation’s economic problems. Honduras is among the deadliest countries in the world, according to the World Bank. The high rates of homicide and violence are detrimental in many ways including how they impact education. According to a U.N. agency report, more than 200,000 children stopped attending school between 2014 and 2017, due to the prevalence of gang violence in and around the school environment. The report also gathered that teachers were the third-most displaced group between 2016 and 2017. The Honduras government documented 83 murdered teachers between 2009 and 2014. Additionally, there were over 1,500 student deaths due to gang violence between 2010 and 2018. The expansion of gang culture makes education secondary to survival. This problem has stunted the system for years, translating to a lack of skilled labor and vibrant industry.

Another antecedent to structural poverty in Honduras is political instability. The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Report labeled Honduras as a hybrid regime, which is where a country holds elections that are susceptible to voter fraud and manipulation. As recent as 2017, the country endured an election crisis that led to nationwide unrest, rioting and dissension on the premise of suspicion that the voting had been rigged. Tenuous leadership has let corruption run rampant, economic disparity worsen and access to food decline.

The Solution

Organizations such as Proyecto Mirador and CARE/Cargill are working diligently to quell poverty in Honduras. The former is a project that provides stove-building jobs for families. This initiative creates an easy and profitable venture for lower-class people who have no other options. Its website reports that builders have constructed and installed over 185,000 stoves in Honduras. Meanwhile, CARE and Cargill partnered in 2008 to create an initiative that supports women in agriculture, both nutritionally and economically. The program is investing $10 million over three years in Village Savings and Loan Associations. It also employs advocacy strategies designed to ignite agricultural policy change that benefits the lower-class farmer. The partnership originated in Honduras and has now expanded to reach 10 countries in total, directly impacting nearly half a million people as of 2018.

The United States has intervened in many Central American countries to mitigate gang violence with Project GREAT, a police-taught gang violence prevention program. The program aims to teach young people how to avoid gang life and to repair the fractured relationships that many of these communities have with local law enforcement. Project GREAT gathered 87,000 student participants in 2017, hoping to breed a sense of optimism among the young community. By doing so, Project GREAT seeks to dissolve the presence of gangs in the future.

Beating poverty in Honduras requires systemic change initiated from the top. It takes resources, both internal and external, to silence gang culture, restore safe education and uproot government corruption. Once the lower-class of Hondurans begins to escape the cycle of poverty, that is when economic industries will begin to thrive. The future of Honduras relies on the viability and strength of its youthful working-class.

Camden Gilreath
Photo: Unsplash