Honduras

Honduras

Located in Central America, Honduras is bordered by Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The country’s mountainous terrain and coastal plains are home to almost 8 million people. The people are almost entirely mestizo—a mix of Spanish and indigenous ethnicities—and speak Spanish as well as Amerindian dialects. Due to recent rapid urbanization, about half the population now lives and works in urban areas. However, high underemployment rates and unequal distribution of income mean that over half the population lives below the poverty line.

According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, 89% of people in Honduras have access to improved water sources and 81% have improved sanitation facilities. While these numbers are impressive, they do not provide a complete picture of water and sanitation access in Honduras. Though many of the communities have water systems, water in the rural regions where we work often does not meet government quality and quantity standards.

Water For People first began supporting water and sanitation efforts in Honduras in 1997. From 1997 to 2006, Water For People–Honduras worked with partner organizations in over 90 rural communities. In 2007, it developed a regional strategy to target specific districts and to provide Everyone in these areas with access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Currently we focus our efforts in three Everyone Forever districts: Chinda, San Antonio de Cortés, and El Negrito.

Statistics

Rural access to improved water:
81%
Rural access to improved sanitation:
74%
Population:
7,936,000
Languages:
Spanish/Amerindian
Per capita income:
$4,194
Life expectancy (M/F):
72/76
Under-five mortality rate:
4/1,000 live births
Rural access to improved water:

Source: World Health Organization

Regions

The Everyone Forever program targets specific districts and municipalities that can act as a model for replication across the country. Chinda is a small municipality of only 43 square miles in the northwestern department of Santa Bárbara, with a main town and 14 rural communities, and a population of almost 6,000 inhabitants. Chinda was the first of the districts where Water For People worked to reach full water coverage, which took place in 2011. Water For People continues to work in Chinda to build the capacity of the municipal government and other local authorities to take on all of the roles and responsibilities necessary to make sure these services last Forever.

San Antonio de Cortés is a mountainous 114-square-mile municipality in the department of Cortés with a population of more than 26,000 living in a town of the same name and in 45 rural communities. Many San Antonians practice subsistence agriculture, raising beans and corn on small farms. Others work in sugarcane factories or raise animals for sale and consumption.

El Negrito is a 326-square-mile area in the department of Yoro. More than 53,000 people live in 90 mostly rural communities in this region, half of which is mountainous, while the other half is defined by the Sula Valley. El Negrito is one of the poorest and least developed areas of Yoro, as most residents depend upon subsistence farming to support their families, raising beans, corn, and the occasional chicken or pig on small family plots. Some people also work seasonally on small coffee or cocoa plantations. Those who reside in the Sula Valley communities depend largely on income as day laborers on large African palm, sugarcane, or banana plantations.

Partners

Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when key players in the private sector, civil society, and local government are involved. Water For People–Honduras maintains strong relationships with municipal governments and with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, SANAA (Honduras National Autonomous Water and Sewerage Service), ERSAPS (Regulatory Entity for Water and Potable Water and Sanitation Services), and the National Autonomous University of the Sula Valley. The partners involved in the national Para Todos Por Siempre movement (in addition to Water For People) are: CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Living Water International, IRC, World Vision, COCEPRADIL, Agua Para el Pueblo (a Honduran NGO), Pure Water for the World, and Save the Children.

Moving Forward

In 2014, Water For People–Honduras continues to facilitate water and sanitation programming to build toward full coverage in the municipalities of San Antonio de Cortés and El Negrito. A highlight is our 29 Communities project in San Antonio, which will bring drinking water to over 4,000 people when completed in 2015. In Chinda, Water For People–Honduras is focusing on building the local capacity, including building a relationship with the newly elected municipal government, and strengthening municipal water and sanitation committees.

We also are working with Municipal Associations of Water and Sanitation Committees (AJAASM) to provide loans for families to construct household sanitation facilities. In El Negrito, AJAASM has given out 16 micro-credits, which are very likely the first loans ever given out for sanitation in Honduras. We are also piloting this lending scheme Chinda and San Antonio de Cortés.

In Honduras, Water For People has sparked a national Everyone Forever movement, branded locally as “Para todos Por Siempre.” This movement is made up of 10 NGOs that have signed an agreement to work toward full coverage in 29 municipalities to build a model that can be replicated nationally. The movement hired a national level coordinator in 2013 to support these efforts.

View Current Progress

Innovate Initiatives for Permanent Solutions

Water For People is rethinking the way conventional school programming is implemented. Traditionally, school programs have not involved the surrounding communities because schools are frequently the weakest link: teachers are often underpaid and overloaded with multiple activities; school administrations have a limited or nonexistent funding base; and teachers who have received hygiene education training often leave for better schools.

Water For People–Honduras treats schools as part of the wider community. It engages local leaders and organizations to build hand-washing stations and toilets. Each school intervention integrates solutions and education in the community to ensure that good hygiene practices are reinforced at home. Responsibility for project implementation, finance, and maintenance of the school water and sanitation system is placed with the community and local government, taking the burden off of schools.

Rather than directly managing the construction of water supply, toilets, and hand-washing stations for schools, we direct the funds (usually supplemented by municipal government funds) to parent-teacher associations to manage. Water For People–Honduras also provides training and mentoring on topics such as basic of financial management and project administration. These skills translate into tools that community members can continue to use as they further develop their communities.

Water For People–Honduras is a champion of strong Local Water Resource Management (LWRM). Before working in a community, Water For People–Honduras delineates the watershed basin to better understand the available water resources and the impact that usage will have on surrounding communities. Great emphasis is placed on sanitation and ensuring that communities with households above the water source have proper latrines to avoid contamination of the water. Significant effort is also made to protect the community water source and to educate community members about the individual impact they have on water quality in their community. We also work with municipalities and communities to achieve legally protected status for water sources and water recharge areas. Water For People–Honduras promotes water conservation and equitable payment for use by requiring all water systems to include household-level micrometers, which allows water committees and community members to monitor usage and establish a fair fee structure.

Water For People–Honduras has been steadily building the capacity of the municipalities and communities so that they will be able to sustain water and sanitation services long term.

In each of the three Everyone Forever districts, Water For People–Honduras trains and supports community water and sanitation committees on operation, maintenance, and administration of water and sanitation services. We have supported the formation and strengthening of Municipal Associations of Water and Sanitation Committees, which provide technical support; and the creation of civil society structures prescribed by national water law, the Municipal Water and Sanitation Commission (COMAS) and the Local Supervisory and Control Unit (USCL).