Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
The COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricanes Eta and Iota worsened long-standing multidimensional humanitarian conditions in Honduras and significantly weakened the State’s and communities’ coping capacity. The combined effects of a pandemic that caused more than 37,000 COVID-19 cases per every 100,000 inhabitants (the third highest rate in Central America and Mexico), and the back-to-back impacts of two major hurricanes that left 2.8 million people with urgent needs created a dire situation in an already complex humanitarian landscape.
Poverty and violence are rising, while access to basic services is shrinking. The hurricanes damaged or destroyed 10 hospitals and 404 primary health-care facilities, which, added to the partial or temporary closure of health centres during the COVID-19 pandemic, is creating a health coverage deficit. Increasing trends towards protracted droughts linked to El Niño, as well as increasingly heavy rains from tropical storm activity, have had devastating effects on health, food security and livelihoods.
An estimated 70 per cent of the population, or some 6.6 million people, were living in poverty at the end of 2020, an 11 per cent increase from the 59.3 per cent reported in 2019. With the COVID-19 crisis wiping out more than 500,000 jobs and causing the economy to contract by 6.3 per cent at the end of 2020, livelihoods and economic resilience are likely to continue deteriorating. Some 2.8 million people were suffering crisis levels of food insecurity or worse in February 2021, a number that could grow to 3.2 million at the end of 2021. Extended school closures are affecting more than half a million children, many of whom benefited from school feeding and social protection programmes, which assisted around 1.4 million students before COVID-19. Honduras’s 37.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants ranked third among Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2020. That rate includes the highest femicide rate in the region, at 6.2 deaths per every 100,000 women.
More than 937,000 people were internally displaced due to disasters in 2020, the highest number of new displacements in Latin America and the Caribbean. Moreover, Honduras is increasingly becoming a country of transit and destination for people on the move on the region, a situation that could escalate due to deteriorating conditions in Nicaragua. With Honduras set for general elections in November 2021, its socio-political landscape may see renewed turmoil similar to the months-long violence that followed controversial elections in 2017.
Projected situation in 2022 and beyond
Currently, 2.8 million people need humanitarian assistance, more than double the 1.3 million people in need estimated for the Humanitarian Needs Overview issued in early 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of Eta and Iota. Should these needs remain unmet, especially in rural and remote communities, conditions are sure to deteriorate and have a multiplying effect in 2022 and beyond. Vulnerable populations such as women, children, informal workers, indigenous and Afro-descendant people, as well as people living with disabilities, are historically among the people most disproportionately affected by humanitarian situations and will thus require targeted and differentiated response in 2022.
More broadly, structural poverty and weakened resilience capacities will continue to have adverse effects on livelihoods and food security, which will further exacerbate inequality and drive migration within and across borders. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network expects Dry Corridor communities in Honduras to remain in crisis levels of food insecurity at least through January 2022.
Protection is likely to remain a pressing concern. More than 942,000 people require some form of protection due to rampant violence, including gender-based violence and forced displacement. The number of people fleeing the country in search of protection or better conditions has already risen past pre-pandemic levels, as shown by the nearly 320,000 Hondurans detained at the Mexico-United States border between October 2020 and September 2021, surpassing the combined totals of 2019 and 2020 by 19 per cent. Tens of thousands of returnees face protection and basic needs, while burdening already weakened local communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is showing a general decline in cases and deaths, but a comparatively late start to vaccination rollouts has led to Honduras reaching only 39 per cent of its population with the complete vaccine scheme, the third lowest coverage in Latin America as of October. In addition to delaying economic recovery, this could continue to draw valuable health response resources and limit response capacities and access to health care, which may exacerbate the spread of other diseases such as dengue, which caused a significant outbreak prior to COVID-19.
Response priorities in 2022
The Humanitarian Country Team will seek to respond to the needs of 1.8 million people, including 612,000 women and 828,000 children across Honduras through the 2021-2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), requiring US$222 million. The HRP also seeks to strengthen the resilience of social services, communities and affected people, while also prioritizing close coordination with the UN-supported Sustainable Development Reconstruction Plan. The multisectoral response under this plan is targeting those with the most severe needs in 127 priority municipalities, selected out of Honduras’s 298 municipalities following thorough analyses of areas most affected by COVID-19, violence and natural disasters.
The HRP is placing a special emphasis on the most affected people, especially those in rural, remote and hard-to-reach communities. Vulnerable groups will be prioritized, such as women, children, displaced people, people living with disabilities, and indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. Food security, WASH, protection and health are the key areas of activity.
Given the current severity and scope of the needs across Honduras, the HRP requirements exceed the combined requirements of Honduras’s last two appeals to respond to Eta and Iota ($90.1 million with $71.5 million funding for 79.3 per cent coverage) and the COVID-19 pandemic ($98 million with $24.5 million funding for 25 per cent coverage). Some initial funding was received in 2021 to kick-start the 18-month plan, but more is needed to ensure a comprehensive response that keeps pace with the growing needs.
Source: Humanitarian Insight
Source: Financial Tracking Service
Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs