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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

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

10 Facts About Violence in Honduras

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

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

Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

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

List of Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Honduras

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

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

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

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

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

Who Are Village Partners?

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

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

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

What Are Honduras’ Poverty Levels?

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

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

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

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

What is An Asset-Based Community?

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

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

Hard Work, High Impact

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

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

– Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr

A Look at Credit Access in HondurasMicrofinance has become an important tool for increasing credit access in Honduras for low-income people. Microfinance, or microcredit, entails banks lending small amounts of money at low interest rates. It is a great method to get loans to people living in poverty who have no credit history, little to no income, no collateral and often no education. This practice is particularly popular in the developing world.

The Current Situation

Without access to credit, savings or other basic financial services, over two billion people around the world are financially excluded. Increased credit access in Honduras and other developing countries enables poor families to earn a larger income, build their assets and cushion themselves from extra costs from external shocks like natural disasters. Poverty in Honduras is exacerbated by a consistent threat of natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and land erosion.

In Honduras, 60 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line and the country has one of the lowest per capita incomes in Latin America. Credit access in Honduras is limited, especially in rural areas due to obstacles including high operating costs because of infrastructural deficiencies, a high level of risk due to the threat of natural disasters and a lack of flexible financial products and financial intermediaries that can cater to specific needs.

Improvements to Credit Access in Honduras

In 1989, a non-banking financial institution called FINCA was established in Honduras to provide banking services to people across the country, including loans, savings deposits, money transfer services and insurance. FINCA now has 21 branches and serves over 47,000 people in rural and urban areas of Honduras. The average loan is less than $800 and the institution’s loan portfolio amounts to over $21 million.

In 2014, the Rural Savings and Credit Union was formed in Honduras to provide these financial services in rural areas and offer flexible financial services based on individual negotiations and a deep knowledge of local communities and the businesses within those communities. Rural Savings and Credit Unions have promoted a more gender-inclusive market system, empowering women to participate in the economy to open small businesses and support their families financially. They are also sustainable and easy to replicate, ensuring a stable source of financial services to rural and poor areas in Honduras.

The Multilateral Investment Fund also approved a $200,000 technical assistance grant and a $3 million loan to the José María Covelo Foundation. The funds will allow the organization to pursue a project to improve the economic conditions of productive and entrepreneurial individuals in rural and peri-urban areas by increasing the microcredit supply in Honduras.

Real Life Results

Microcredit services like FINCA have helped increase poor people’s credit access in Honduras, enabling them to start small businesses and increase their incomes without having to go into major debt. For example,  62-year-old Consuelo Esperanza Rueda Aguilar has been able to start several businesses, from running a taxi service to selling a variety of different items ranging from cell phones to clothing to pots and pans. By utilizing FINCA’s services, Consuelo carefully invested her earnings to develop her entrepreneurial endeavors. She was also able to educate all five of her children and to buy a bigger house.

Models like FINCA and Rural Savings and Credit Unions strive to reduce poverty by increasing credit access in Honduras, providing economic opportunity for people in the most vulnerable settings and increasing economic empowerment by giving Hondurans the tools to become more financially stable.

– Sydney Lacey

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

Poverty in Honduras
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
Photo: Pulitzer