Honduras is one of the least developed countries in Central America. The country had been making steady progress towards poverty reduction, but after a coup in June 2009, violence – much of it directed against women – has escalated.
Land issues, economic inequality, corruption and political instability are also factors blocking the path to progress, along with environmental and climate change issues.
The murder rate in Honduras is one of the highest in the world. In Honduras, there were 85.5 homicides per 100,000 people in 2012, compared with the global median rate of 8.8 murders per 100,000. Femicide is rife in Honduras. Women are being killed at the rate of one a day in a wave of gender-based violence, which is now the second-highest cause of death for women of reproductive age in the country.
Groups of peasant cooperatives are struggling to win rights to land which has been sold or transferred illegally. However, since the coup – and particularly in 2010 and 2011 – peasant movements in the Bajo Aguán region have been the targets of human rights violations, as large landholders attempt to gain control over land they use and/or want to use for biofuels, specifically palm oil plantations. Increasingly the conflict is leading to violence and killings of activists who have been advocating for peasants’ rights.
Much of Honduras’ political and economic power has been concentrated in the hands of a small number of families, leading to a massive gap between rich and poor.
Climate and environment
Honduras’ mountains used to be covered in tropical rainforest, but large-scale deforestation has led to changing rainfall patterns and poorer soils. It has also has increased the danger of floods and landslides – especially during the annual hurricane season (June – November).
In mountainous areas, tropical storms often trigger landslides, especially in areas which have lost their forest cover. In low-lying coastal plains they cause serious floods. Poor communities are hit time and time again.
Natural disasters can severely hinder communities’ progress, even wiping out existing development work and displacing people, leaving them vulnerable and insecure. The latest research suggests that Central America will suffer significant impacts from future hurricanes and storm surges as a result of climate change.