Poverty Rate in HondurasHonduras is one of the poorest, most vulnerable countries in the world. The poverty rate in Honduras is 66 percent. In rural Honduras, approximately one in five lives in extreme poverty; this means a salary of less than 1.90 U.S. dollars a day.

It is difficult to build businesses and add jobs in Honduras. A World Bank report ranked countries by ease of doing business and successful enforcement of contracts. The report ranked Honduras 125th and 179th out of 185, respectively. Violence has been one of the main obstacles to development and poverty reduction in Honduras. In 2011, the United Nations labeled Honduras the murder capital of the world. As of 2014, the homicide rate was still one of the highest in the world, at 67 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

The country is also vulnerable to national disasters such as hurricanes and droughts. The country struggles to mitigate these shocks and lacks risk management mechanisms and social safety nets.

Honduras faces the high levels of economic inequality. In rural areas, homes are small and dilapidated and animals and humans frequently live in close quarters. Many families do not have toilets or access to clean water, and access to medical care is limited.

The World Bank has implemented a new framework for aid in Honduras for the years 2016-2020. With a current portfolio of more than 990.5 million U.S. dollars, the World Bank Group is seeking to expand social programs, improve rural productivity, strengthen institutional capacity, strengthen resilience to natural disasters, increase access to financing and build the capacity of local governments to prevent crime and violence. Though the violence in Honduras shows no signs of ceasing, the international community will continue doing what it can to decrease the poverty rate in Honduras and provide people with essential resources. International aid could be pivotal to lowering the poverty rate in Honduras.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Flickr

Gang Violence in HondurasSan Pedro Sula, Honduras is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Thus, organizations and local leaders are combating gang violence in Honduras by helping young people find and make their own families.One teenager skateboards with friends he considers brothers. Another works on diagramming a family tree. Others join in soccer

One teenager skateboards with friends he considers brothers. Another works on diagramming a family tree. Others join in soccer games, or hang out at recreation centers. These activities have the same goal: to prevent gang violence from becoming a way of life for the next generation.

In a country where the maras, or gangs, recruit kids as young as 12, it becomes of vital importance that teens and youth find love and support elsewhere.  They want these kids to find support in their friends, families, and neighborhoods.

In the interest of halting gang violence in Honduras, USAID has partnered with local citizens to open nearly 50 outreach centers. Teens can go there to learn computer skills, play musical instruments, and participate in sports. Some outreach centers, like Casa de la Esperanza (House of Hope), organize movie nights and other events. The U.S. has also supported the clearing and revitalizing of 10 abandoned soccer fields to prevent gang violence in Honduras.

Fun activities, when combined with a confident leader, can form stable, even familial, bonds. The best example of this may be Jesse Recinos, who founded the club Skate Brothers. Recinos was nearly killed at the age of 16 after being wrongly accused of stealing from a member of a rival gang. In the aftermath of the experience, he decided to change his own life, and the lives of others, by bringing at-risk youth together to do skateboarding, BMX, rollerblading and breakdancing.

The club is about more than just busting tricks, and Recinos is more than just an instructor. He invites the kids to his house for meals and meets with their school teachers. Recinos is intent on keeping “his guys” away from gang violence and crime. He is at once a teacher, parent, and big brother.

Some programs focus on strengthening trust and communication inside the home, such as Proponte Mas, which offers counseling sessions to teens and young adults who are at risk for joining gangs.

Over the course of a year, the counselors work to reconnect the youth with separated family members. The separations typically occur either because violence has ruptured lines of communication or because relatives have migrated elsewhere.  Extended families draw closer together, offering the youth a strong support system to fall back on.

Being part of a family, the teens learn, also means being accountable. They are encouraged to do their schoolwork and to ask permission before leaving the house. Activities like the family tree diagram help spark an interest in family history. They learn to identify themselves as part of their family before any other group.

Sometimes, accountability to a family goes hand-in-hand with being able to provide for a spouse and children. Proyecto METAS, a program sponsored by the Education Development Center, was founded to provide unemployed young people, particularly at-risk youth or those who had left gangs, with skills they can use in the workforce. By March of 2017, the program had reached 56,000 youth and created 4,000 jobs and internships.

Tragedy still strikes frequently. Children die. Families flee. Moreover, the killers continue to walk away with impunity.  Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world: 60 out of 100,000 residents become homicide victims. Rampant corruption among the police and the government means that only 4 percent of these crimes result in convictions.

The American Justice Society (AJS), a Christian nonprofit association, is committed to halting gang violence in Honduras by putting these murderers behind bars. Its teams consist of a lawyer, an investigator and a psychologist, and they assist the government in building homicide and sexual abuse cases. AJS connects victims and witnesses to officials who are trustworthy.

One of the biggest challenges in prosecuting homicides is getting witnesses to appear in court. Witnesses who speak out, particularly against gang members, risk becoming murder victims themselves. The organization says that it can take anywhere from four to 15 visits to convince a witness to testify.

Psychologists provide emotional support for the victims and witnesses and their families. They go over testimony with the witnesses and give them exercises to calm their fears. In cases of sexual abuse, the psychologists continue to work with victims and their families even after the trial is over.

As criminals are put behind bars, halting gang violence in Honduras is, even more, dependent on the country’s youth. For things to truly improve, programs must expand their scope and work with youth who are already gang members.

Those who fight for the protection of human rights must also be kept safe. The U.N. has recently opened a new human rights office in Honduras, and is working to improve relations between human rights workers and the government.

Journalist Sonia Nazario, in a Sunday opinion column for the New York Times, urged the U.S. to put pressure on Honduras to spend more of its budget on violence prevention. She also brought up the problem that much of the aid that the U.S. sets aside for Honduras becomes caught up in U.S. bureaucracy and does not reach the nonprofits and local citizens who need it. There is still work to do. However, at least for now, progress has been made.

Emilia Otte
Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in HondurasHonduras is a country with fairly poor healthcare available to its citizens. This means that patients who cannot afford care suffer unnecessarily from curable diseases. However, the CDC is helping the country strengthen their healthcare systems by increasing the technical skills of doctors in the region. A few common diseases in Honduras can turn rather serious without the appropriate care to get better.

According to the World Bank, Honduras currently has just over 9 million people. The per capita income is $3,710, and the life expectancy is 76 years for the women and 71 years for the men.

One of the major problems in Honduras is the childbirth complications, and many mothers have issues with their pregnancies and some could lead to infant deaths. In fact, 16 percent of deaths in Honduras come from perinatal conditions. This may not be a disease, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed. The CDC can clean up some conditions and help the doctors address the issues that are causing so many deaths in the birthing process.

Diabetes is a major problem in Honduras, as well. In 2010, it was the second leading cause of death in Honduras, sitting at just under seven percent. Some of the major risk factors leading to the presence of diabetes includes physical inactivity and obesity. The problem exists in Honduras because the only capability they have are blood glucose measurement.

Many other medicines, such as insulin and metformin, and procedures available elsewhere around the world are not available in Honduras. They also don’t possess many of the procedures and policies such as a registry, national guidelines, etc. These are vital to helping the people that need insulin and other procedures to help relieve them of the problems that they face with diabetes.

Some of the other common diseases in Honduras include heart disease, lower respiratory disease, diarrhea and other lower respiratory and common infectious diseases, and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

HIV/AIDS has an estimated prevalence in Honduras between one and just over three percent within adults ages 15-49. The estimated number of people living with either HIV or AIDS in Honduras is between 35,000 and 110,000 people.

There needs to be more awareness and testing available to the people in Honduras. In addition, only about a third of HIV/AIDS patients were receiving the therapy they needed in 2005. That proportion has no doubt increased in the past decade, but new technology will be able to assist people in need. The CDC’s involvement in the country is definitely a good thing for those with HIV and AIDS to make sure they are treated for.

Honduras needs better healthcare in place to help their citizens. There is help from the CDC, who has been there in recent years, to attempt to help them improve their care for the common diseases in Honduras. The look toward the future is brighter with the CDC’s involvement than the past.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Riecken Foundation
The need for educational opportunities in Central America has not gone unnoticed. The Riecken Foundation was established to address this need.  Since building its first library (the first of 65), the organization has paved the way for literacy and access to knowledge in Honduras and Guatemala.

For nearly 20 years, the Riecken Foundation has been building a network of community libraries across Honduras and Guatemala in often underserved, rural areas. Following a unique organizational model, the foundation has found long-term success by establishing libraries under strong community governance.

The foundation was born in 2000 out of the efforts of Susan Riecken and Allen Anderson. In the 1960s, Anderson worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, and his experiences in Honduras stayed with him over the years. Upon his retirement from venture capitalism, Anderson partnered with Riecken to address the educational needs of Honduran and Guatemalan villages and to promote literacy in developing parts of the world.

Educational opportunity is limited in Honduras and Guatemala and contributes to poverty in both countries. Nearly one in five Hondurans live in extreme poverty, and, for many Honduran students, the chance of dropping out of school or repeating a grade is high. In Guatemala, 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Educational quality is poor, and, as a result, fewer than half of students meet national standards by sixth grade.

The Riecken Foundation exists to address these issues and much more. A Riecken community library provides a village with access to books and other free resources, such as technology, youth programs and technical workshops that would otherwise be unavailable.

While other rural libraries might suffer as a result of mismanagement or neglect, a Riecken community library is strengthened by leadership from engaged volunteer citizens who are supported by their municipal government and the Riecken Foundation. It is this collaboration that often ensures the success of a Riecken community library.

For those in rural areas, the library becomes a place to explore diverse ideas and develop community projects. The community is directly involved in the success of their library, and their active engagement in its success creates a sense of prideful ownership over it.

The Riecken Foundation has found that the libraries promote literacy and a better understanding of local government institutions and transparency. It is with this understanding, along with greater access to knowledge and resources, that rural villages in Honduras and Guatemala can begin to move away from poverty and toward a stable environment that fosters growth and prosperity.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

The statistics regarding poverty in Honduras tend to speak for themselves. With a population of nearly nine million, more than half of Hondurans live in poverty. Many of the poor live in rural areas, outside of the two most populous cities, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro. Not only do a majority of Hondurans live in poverty, but a third of them also face underemployment as a result of an economy that is not growing quickly enough. With these statistics, it is important to pose the question: why is Honduras poor?

By nature, the cycle of poverty is difficult to break. But, in particular, rampant violence and a lack of education in Honduras contribute to poor living conditions for many.

Honduras has long been considered one of the most violent places to live, not only in Central America, but in the world. A majority of this violence is the product of drug trafficking and related gang behavior, with which police are often complicit. Since 2014, when Honduras boasted the highest murder rate in the world, homicide rates have been in decline but remain high nonetheless. In 2016, the murder rate accounted for 59.1 deaths per every 100,000 people.


Poverty in Honduras


Although in recent years Honduras has become safer, violence—regardless of its magnitude—breeds instability, and those who live in extreme poverty are the most vulnerable to that conflict. Violence in poor areas only serves to perpetuate poverty and increases the difficulty of escaping from it, answering in part the question of why Honduras is poor.

Violence also fosters an environment that is not particularly welcoming to potential business investors. In a country where un- and underemployment contribute to both income inequality and poor living conditions, extreme violence further hinders the ability of those living in poverty to improve their quality of life.

The Honduran economy has achieved some recovery recently; however, violent disturbances and a lack of economic opportunity leave much to be desired. Honduras faces challenges attracting business—the World Bank ranked it 125 out of 185 countries in regards to ease of doing business—but the current dependence on agriculture also poses economic complications.

The livelihoods of many Hondurans depend on agriculture. Agricultural success relies on factors outside of human control, such natural disasters, which can render a poor family without food or means to support themselves. Over time, the agricultural sector in Honduras has lost its value and is now only two-thirds of its former revenue, as the price of Honduran exports has decreased.

Violence and agriculture are not the only answers that can be pointed to in regards to the question of why Honduras is poor. Although many Hondurans have access to education and primary school enrollment is close to 100 percent, the quality of education is poor. Once students move past primary school, there are simply not enough secondary school facilities, and the dropout rate skyrockets.

For many, an education is the first step to a life spent outside of poverty. The quality and accessibility of education in Honduras must be improved, especially in rural areas, in order to improve the lives of the poor.

While the answers to the question of why Honduras is poor are multifaceted, the solutions to these issues lie within those answers. By focusing on reducing violence and improving education within Honduras, improvements can be made to alleviate poverty.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Pixabay

In the wake of continuous violence in Honduras, authorities remain negligent in capturing the assailants or even investigating the attacks against land rights activists.

Honduras’ landscape, rich in natural capital, has been exploited for years. Resources of interest include raw land, timber from rainforests and minerals like zinc, copper and lead. While wealth is abundant, it is not evenly distributed.

This is particularly unsettling given the already rampant wealth inequality prevalent within the nation. Among the population of about 8.1 million, 62.8% live on an income of less than $2.50 per day.

The primary obstacle facing poverty reduction and sustainable development within the small Central American nation is the excessive violence. Violence in Honduras has remained a serious and urgent problem for years. In 2011, the nation was dubbed the Murder Capital of the World by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes. While the rate decreased from 82 homicides for every 1,000 people in 2011 to 67 homicides among the same sample size only three years later, Honduras remains one of the most dangerous nations in the world.

With the growth of the mining, energy and agribusiness industries, violence in Honduras has taken a turn to target land rights activists and local communities that refuse to abandon their land.

There have been a reported 123 activist murders since the 2009 military overthrow. Recently, the anti-corruption NGO, Global Witness, has investigated the violence in Honduras and implicated a number of high-profile Honduran politicians and business people in the murders.

Global Witness states that the government has begun to crack down on families refusing to hand over their land for mining, logging, energy use and commercial development. In addition, authorities have failed to take action against the wave of non-gang related violence in Honduras.

Occasionally, the perpetrator of the attack will be taken into custody, but will rarely be indicted and will almost never lead to pursuit of the individuals ordering the attacks.

Under the Obama administration, the United States committed $98.3 million in bilateral aid directly to Honduras, as well as another $750 million in regional development funds through the ‘Alliance for Prosperity Plan.’

Half of the direct funding is contingent upon the Honduran government’s accountability for meeting human rights standards, which include the permittance of activists to engage without conflict and denunciation of the violence in Honduras.

There is an evident lack, thus far, of the Honduran government’s ability to meet this condition and advocate on behalf of its citizens’ rights. This is troubling given the history of non-targeted violence in Honduras, and can only venture to hurt the nation’s prospects of future development.

Jaime Viens

Photo: Flickr

In Honduras, as in many places, gender conceptions influence national prosperity. Reimagining the ways that men and women can contribute to their communities and economies and learning how to share the societal load can stimulate poverty alleviation.

More than 1.7 million people in Honduras live in poverty, and many live on less than $1.25 per day. Many impoverished people live in rural areas. In fact, 46 percent of all Hondurans live in rural areas, where the primary occupation is farming. About 38 percent of all Honduran employment is in agriculture, and many farmers are struggling to make ends meet.

USAID and Feed the Future have made significant strides in assisting the Honduran farming community by improving technologies and management practices to help farmers increase the value of their agricultural products. However, there is still a long way to go, particularly in regard to supporting female farmers.

Income gaps and marginal political representation have crippled Honduran women’s leadership in the agricultural sector, despite the fact that in western Honduras alone, more than 40 percent of farming households are headed by women.

For three years, USAID and Feed the Future have partnered with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) in a project called Gender in Agriculture: From Policy to Practice (GAPP). Aiming to stimulate women’s leadership in Honduran agricultural communities, the program is training female farmers in leadership, public speaking and investing. Its hope is that as female farmers become more involved in local political processes, they will gain access to public funding and loans that tend only to benefit male farmers.

One recent GAPP success is a municipal agreement that part of the civic budget reserved for gender activities be specifically applied to women-led agricultural enterprises.

In addition to empowering female farmers in Honduras to demand their own rights, GAPP also funds programs to educate male leaders about the importance of gender equity in agriculture.

Using the concept of “new masculinities,” GAPP teaches male community members to appreciate women’s crucial role in the agricultural sector. According to one male GAPP advocacy training participant, Maximo Mejía, “Being a man isn’t, as they say, being a big shot, but understanding and seeking equality with your partner.”

While the provision of funding and new technologies does alleviate the difficulties faced by female farmers in Honduras, helping people rethink gender roles and stereotypes will help ensure that economic stagnation dissipates.

Feed the Future continues to train women to grow home gardens, farm fish and utilize the latest farming technologies, while GAPP teaches female farmers in Honduras how to use their voices to gain the civic support they need.

At the same time, Honduran men are relearning not only women’s roles in their economy, but also their own roles in caregiving and family health. This mutual empowerment of men and women will help break the poverty cycle in Honduras.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Violence Fuels Honduran Refugees
While many in the U.S. have begun focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis and the horrors committed by the Islamic State (IS) and the Assad regime, the U.S. still has a major refugee crisis along its southern border.

For decades, millions of migrants have traveled from South and Central America to the U.S. in search of better work opportunities and social benefits for themselves and their families. Recently, however, the migrant crisis has transformed into a refugee crisis, with many also traveling to the U.S. to escape the dangers of their home countries.

With the U.S. as the world’s biggest customer, a thriving drug market worth more than $300 billion has fueled the violence between gangs, each fighting for territory and the rights to sell drugs. In countries dictated by drug trades, government corruption also becomes inevitable, with police sometimes working hand in hand with gangs.

Especially in Honduras, these drug wars have displaced thousands, destroying neighborhoods and forcing their inhabitants to move north. Thousands of Honduran refugees have traveled to the U.S. in search of new lives.

In the past few years, however, U.S. investment in countries like Honduras has helped reduce violence. The American government has put money and resources into programs that dissuade youth from joining gangs and replenish impoverished neighborhoods.

Here are 10 facts about Honduras and Honduran refugees:

  1. One hundred and seventy-four thousand people, four percent of the country’s households, have been displaced because of violence.
  2. In 2011, Honduras was the murder capital of the world, with 91.6 murders per 100,000 people. In 2014, that number dropped to 66.
  3. In 2014, 18,000 unaccompanied Honduran children arrived at the U.S. border.
  4. This year, the U.S. has sent between $95 and $110 million in violence prevention funding to Honduras.
  5. In one pilot program, participants were deemed 77 percent less likely to commit crimes or abuse drugs and alcohol after a year of counseling, according to Creative Associates International.
  6. Because of fear and corruption, 96 percent of homicides do not end in a conviction in Honduras.
  7. There are about 23,000 gang members involved in police shootouts and turf wars daily.
  8. About 15,000 Hondurans applied for refugee status in 2015, double that of 2014.
  9. In 2014, 64.7 percent of unaccompanied minors received the asylum they applied for.
  10. For 2016, the U.S. has 3,000 refugee slots for applicants from Latin America and the Caribbean even though 9,000 people may be eligible.

While there is a lot of potential in the U.S. funded pilot programs, more money is necessary to enact change on a large scale. Although many may criticize the foreign aid the U.S. already gives as being too charitable, they must keep in mind the costs of receiving these refugees illegally and the cost of them making the journey north. By fixing the roots of the problem, the U.S. can prevent the symptoms from reaching its borders.

Because Honduras is filled with human rights violations, many would see the funding completely cut. This summer, government officials tried to pass a bill in Congress that would do so.

However, responding to the human rights issue by cutting funding to violence prevention may be most impractical and harmful. Although expensive, the best solution may be to continue funding violence prevention programs while beginning separate programs that address government abuse and corruption.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

Education to the Children of Honduras
Honduras ranks poorly in terms of education among its counterparts in Latin American and the Caribbean. Currently for education to the children of Honduras, the country spends the highest percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education of all countries in the region but has the second-lowest test scores. Huffington Post notes that in many classrooms, girls and boys alike sit on dirt floors with no blackboards, no desks, no electricity and latrines that serve as unisex bathrooms.

The Foundation for Education in Honduras, or FEIH, is a charitable organization committed to giving education to the children of Honduras. “The first step in restoring hope in Honduras is to invest in the children’s futures and livelihoods… Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), along with charitable foundations whose efforts are dedicated to improving the state of education, are slowly but surely promoting the necessary changes to make social transformations a reality,” writes Gina Kawas, FEIH’s director of Corporate Relations.

Although the Honduran Constitution formally specifies that minors must have their education taken care of, many enter adulthood without knowing how to read or write at all. Lack of public resources and the extreme poverty that encompasses Honduras is much to blame.

In order to change the status quo, the organization partners directly with local Honduran businesses and groups to renovate rural school buildings and provide school supplies to the children and teachers. In addition, FEIH aims to engage the school in cross-cultural activities in order to foster positive educational outcomes in the community.

More often than not, the necessity of increasing the family earnings forces many Honduran children to leave school for work, usually permanently. FEIH’s approach to this predicament is simple and extremely effective. The organization invests all the money it raises into school construction and educational programs. It helps to build sustainable, community-owned education projects, thereby giving education to the children of Honduras.

FEIH requires 20-25% of local labor building these schools to be volunteered by members of the community where the school is being built. This cultivates potential job opportunities to members of the community while simultaneously providing new schools for the communities’ children.

If Honduras is to prosper and provide its children with the education they deserve, it must realize and address how significant the relationship between increased time spent in school and a reduction in criminal activity truly is. Marked as the “most violent country in the world” by the U.N. back in 2012, Honduras needs to place focus on its younger generations and invest in their futures. FEIH is slowly helping the country tackle one of it’s biggest issues at its root one school at a time.

Keaton McCalla

Photo: Flickr

Honduran Refugees
Honduras, the small Central American country nestled between Guatemala and Nicaragua, is home to a rich, cultural heritage, stunning wildlife, beaches and forests. Despite the beauty this country has to offer, many of its citizens are seeking a safe haven far from the country they know. Here are 10 things you need to know to better understand Honduran refugees.

  1. The countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador often are reported on in tandem. This grouping, referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle, experiences similar problems leading all three to their high refugee rates.
  2. Honduras is struggling with an incredibly high homicide rate. The country is currently tied with El Salvador for the highest homicide rate in the world and in 2015, over 17,000 homicides were recorded across the Northern Triangle.
  3. Many of these killings are related to gang or criminal organization activity. Citizens of Honduras run the risk of being extorted by these groups and are often threatened with violence if they are unable to pay fees.
  4. Honduras is dangerous for women. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that women fleeing the Northern Triangle often report being assaulted, extorted and threatened. Honduras averages at 10.9 female homicides per 100,000 people. In comparison, the same statistic for the U.S. is 1.9 per 100,000.
  5. The number of Honduran refugees is growing. Nearly 10 percent of the region’s 30 million citizens have fled in the past 10 years. An analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations said that the number of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala living in the U.S. increased from 1.5 million to 2.7 million between 2000 and 2013.
  6. In addition to the threat of violence, Honduran refugees may also be fleeing from their countries for climate-related reasons. Honduras is experiencing prolonged drought effects due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.
  7. This drought is having a severe effect on food prices and on farming in the country. Bean and maize harvests have been cut in half due to the drought leading to an increase in food prices.
  8. Malnutrition is a serious risk for families. The U.N.’s World Food Project reports that around a quarter of children aged six months to two-and-a-half years struggle due to chronic malnutrition.
  9. The U.S has begun attempts to help the situation. In 2015, the Obama Administration appropriated $750 million to help address the root causes of the influx of refugees.
  10. The U.S. Refugee Admission Program has been established to aid refugees from the Northern Triangle. The program will seek to identify families in need, and then relocate them as permanent residents in the U.S.

Though the situation in Honduras looks grim, the U.S. has the opportunity to make a difference through programs that will alleviate poverty-induced violence and restore the country that is home to so many refugees.

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr