Poverty in Honduras Taking an Extreme Toll
Poverty in Honduras remains an issue. Honduras is the second-poorest country in Central America. With a population of approximately eight million people, poverty in Honduras affects roughly 60 percent of these individuals.
Out of 187 countries, Honduras ranked 121 on the United Nations Development Programs 2011 Human Development Index. This index is a “comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living for countries worldwide.”
Majority of the poverty in Honduras is reserved for the more rural areas. With 36 percent of the population living under conditions of extreme poverty overall, 50 percent of rural individuals live under these terms.
Over 64 percent of Hondurans live below the poverty level of $2 per day, according to Proyecto Mirador, a website that highlights the poverty in Honduras and what can be done about it.
Under- and unemployment rates in Honduras reside at 36 percent. The majority of families lack access to clean water and access to medical care or electricity is slim to none.
Rural Poverty in Honduras
Around 75 percent of the rural population lives in the central hillside areas in the interior highlands; this is also where majority of poverty in Honduras is the most prevalent.
An extremely evident force behind the country’s high level of emigration is the lack of employment opportunities in rural Honduras. With 28 percent of the country being agricultural land, 39 percent of the population is employed by the agricultural sector. However, the terrain in Honduras is extremely susceptible to erosion, causing much of the land to have come eroded over time. As a result of this, productivity has decreased immensely.
Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, also plague Honduras. In 1998, Honduras was the victim of Hurricane Mitch, which destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure in the country. This set back the economic advancement of Honduras for quite some time.
Subsistence farmers make up 70 percent of farming families. With extremely restricted access to land, these farmers depend on finding off-farm employment or remittances from other family members to support themselves.
Small-scale farmers “have access to more land and generally produce basic food crops, but many are forces to seek off-farm work in order to survive.”
Honduras stands as the country with the most unequal distribution of income in the region, according to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. The majority of the wealth in Honduras is controlled by few families and national assets are treated as personal patrimony.
Aside from the extreme poverty that hinders Honduras’s growth, a surge in violence in recent years has resulted in the killings of politicians, human rights advocates, labor activists, journalists, and others. The road to improvement for Honduras is a long and enduring one, but the most important step will begin with socioeconomic equality.
– Samaria Garrett
Sources: Rural Poverty, Proyecto Mirador, LA Times