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

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

Women-Owned BusinessesNonprofit organization Mary’s Pence is working towards a world of empowered women making changes in their communities. To get there, Mary’s Pence partners with grassroots organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Central America to provide funding and development programs for women-owned businesses.

Executive director Katherine Wojtan believes Mary’s Pence is different from other nonprofits because the organization not only cares for the individual women, but also oversees the sustainment of their small businesses. Mary’s Pence also values the idea of “accompaniment,” explained by Wojtan as utilizing the abilities of everyone to accomplish a long-term shared vision. This concept is applied to the organization’s execution of both the programs in the states and in Central America, focusing on improving the whole rather than the individual.

ESPERA

The program in Central America called ESPERA, or Economical Systems Providing Equitable Resources for All, was created almost 12 years ago. “Espera” is the Spanish word for hope, a fitting name for the life-changing program working with women in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

“This is very intentional, it is not about making individual women rich, but about ensuring all women have access to resources and skills to make their way in the world and earn what they need for a good life,” Wojtan said.

ESPERA aids women who were victims of domestic or gang violence or are single mothers struggling to make ends meet. By giving grants to grassroots organizations in struggling communities, Mary’s Pence creates community-lending pools which women can take loans from to start local women-owned businesses that generate income. To ensure success, the staff of Mary’s Pence teach the community loan management and help elect leaders to track the lending.

Gilda Larios, ESPERA team lead, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and worked with Central American refugees before starting work with Mary’s Pence. ESPERA funding gives back to the whole community, not just the women receiving aid. Instead of focusing on building credit, women realize the importance of circulating money and products.

“Their confidence grew – first they asked for a very small loan, and over time they asked for larger loans and grew their businesses,” Larios told The Borgen Project. “With their strength, they are role models for new leadership in the community.”

ESPERA and COVID-19

ESPERA has helped develop many small women-owned businesses that create jobs for their communities and generate income for struggling women. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put many of these businesses at risk as workers feared for their lives, but the ESPERA team responded fast, changing their focus from long-term development to responding immediately to the needs of the women.

As some women panicked about their businesses and the effects of the pandemic, the ESPERA team responded with a 12-week emotional wellness series, delivered via WhatsApp, and supported stores so they could keep reasonable prices for the communities. For women in the midst of paying back loans to the community-lending pool, their status is put on hold until they have the income to continue their payment.

Despite the support network ESPERA provides, the pandemic revealed some gaps in the system. It was challenging to ensure the safety of women experiencing domestic violence. The lack of access to phones and the internet made communication between communities and ESPERA leaders challenging. However, this time of crisis also brought the communities closer and proved the importance of working together through local businesses.

In her interview with The Borgen Project, Larios told of a woman named Aminta, who is in the ESPERA program in San Salvador, El Salvador. She transitioned from working in a “maquila,” or factory, to starting her own business sewing uniforms for local sports teams. During COVID-19, she also began sewing masks to help keep her community healthy. Success stories of women-owned businesses like this one propel communities into further financial security and empower other women to do the same.

Confidence and Creating Futures

Above all, ESPERA and Mary’s Pence hope to give women confidence in their own abilities to create the future they want for themselves and for their families. For Larios, the most rewarding part of working with ESPERA women is the “feeling of satisfaction and joy to see them embrace their possibilities and capacities that before they thought they didn’t have.”

Through ESPERA and their role in the creation of women-owned businesses, Mary’s Pence continues to change women’s lives by showing them the power they already had within themselves.

– Kiyomi Kishaba
Photo: Google Images

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras
After decades of military rule, Honduras established a freely-elected civilian government in 1982. Honduras remains the second-poorest country in South America, however. Much of the country’s economy still depends on U.S. trade and remittance. The CIA estimates that about 15 percent of investing in Honduras is direct foreign investments from U.S. firms. Honduras’s GDP is on a constant rise, but it also reflects the unequal distribution of wealth. This unequal distribution of wealth contributes to the state of sanitation in Honduras. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras

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

These 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras highlight the progress that has been made, as well as the continuing struggles. Moving forward, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations continue to make sanitation in Honduras a priority.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

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

Alley Cropping

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

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

Benefits of Alley Cropping

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

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

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

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

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

Inga Trees in Alley Cropping

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

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

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

  3. Inga trees reduce weeds.

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

  5. Inga trees produce edible fruit.

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

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

– Hadley West

Photo: Flickr

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

Costa Rica

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

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

Guatemala

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

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

Honduras

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

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

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

Panama

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

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

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

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

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

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

Social Protection Project

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

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

Rural Infrastructure Project

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

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

U.S. Involvement

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

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

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

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

10 Facts About Corruption in Honduras

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

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

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Wikimedia