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New Grant

Vecinos Mundiales Honduras (VM/H), $272,237 for a food security, health and organizational development program benefiting 275 peasant families from 11 communities of the Aguila watershed in the department of Paraiso in southeastern Honduras. Project activities include the establishment or promotion of model farms, credit funds, farmer exchanges, agricultural diversification, vaccination campaigns and training courses. (HO-236) 

Food Security and Health Concerns in Crisis-Ridden Honduras

By Kevin Healy, Foundation Representative for Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama

In recent years, Honduran hillside peasant farmers have been battered by natural disasters, changing weather patterns, an international coffee crisis and other hardships. As a result, these farmers, already one of the hemisphere’s poorest groups, are experiencing increased hunger and worse living conditions. Migration toward job opportunities in the United States, and the resulting remittances, are of growing importance in this context.

Vecinos Mundiales Honduras (VMH), an affiliate of one of the premiere grassroots development agencies in Central America, has managed to navigate this multi-crises scenario. Drawing upon an impressive repertoire of innovative development strategies and participatory methodologies, VMH targets community empowerment and family food security. Over several decades, it has pioneered farmer-to-farmer research and exchanges, which taps practical knowledge, cuts production costs and enhances environmental sustainability. Its efforts have effectively linked agricultural and health strategies in a grassroots framework.

With its IAF grant, VMH aims to build on several years of diagnostic planning exercises, preparation of local leaders and health and agricultural promoters, and the formation of a project team working to expand food security, community health and organizational development in the Aguila watershed in southeastern Honduras. The five-person project team will conduct technical assistance through visiting individual farmers, organizing “field days” for groups of farmers, developing model farms and training farmers in agro-forestry, watershed management, integrated pest control, seed and small animal production, marketing, value-added processing, leadership, and soil conservation. The province-based program will also channel credit through cajas rurales to selected households for short-term farm investments.

Additionally, VMH will improve its beneficiaries’ health prospects by organizing local health committees; by advancing basic sanitation through the use of latrines and better drainage systems and waster disposal practices; and by promoting preventive medicine, including food preparation precautions, vaccinations and infant nutrition. Fewer health problems along with sustainable natural resource management and greater capacity for organization will mean a better quality of life for the stakeholders in the Aguila watershed.