A Honduran holding a tool on his shoulder. © ACDI-CIDA/Brian Atknson

Honduras remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with poverty concentrated in the rural areas where half the population of 7.6 million resides. Eighteen percent of Hondurans live on less than US$1.25/day. Honduras ranks 120 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index.

Despite strong economic growth in 2007 and 2008, the financial crisis of 2009 slowed Honduras' export-led economy, deteriorating its economic indicators and shrinking its migrant remittances. This, coupled with the political upheaval generated by the political crisis, has put recent development progress at risk.

In the short term, it will be difficult for the government to meet the country's needs for health and education services. This is due to the worsening fiscal situation combined with the significant pressure placed on these services by a young and rapidly growing population, 60 percent of which is under the age of 25. At the same time, this young population represents significant human capital potential.

The growing rural population also exerts pressure on the natural resource base. Land degradation, through over-use, deforestation, and poor agricultural practices, in turn makes the country more vulnerable to climate-related and other natural disasters.

Food security is also at risk. Honduran agricultural productivity is currently low, and the country is a net importer of agricultural products, though there is significant room for growth in agricultural production. An increase in food prices of 18 percent in 2008 added about 4 percent to the poverty rate and worsened Honduras' already high malnutrition rates.

Local government continues to be weaker than national structures, although both face limitations in their capacity for policy making and planning. Insecurity related to organised crime is increasing and is a major challenge for the Honduran government.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Honduras.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, Honduras was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

Canada's objectives in Honduras are aligned with the Honduran government's national development plan and its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for 2001-2015, where their stated priorities are education, health, and poverty alleviation.

Canada's expertise has been sought by the Honduran government to address specific needs in health, education, and agriculture. Canada is working in a consultative manner with the government and with local and Canadian partners on its aid program in Honduras.

Children and youth

Canada supports efforts that focus on the health and rights of women and children and basic education. Its approach is to support the Government of Honduras' national health plan to reduce death rates by improving the prevention of illness and disease for children and mothers. Canada also works to strengthen the national health information system and improve the governance of the health system.

As well, assistance is provided to improve the quality of basic education. Canada works at the district level, as well as continuing its support at the national level to the joint-donor Education For All initiative led up by UNESCO .

Key anticipated results

  • Reduced malnutrition among children and women, particularly in southern Honduras.
  • Trained community health volunteers to promote the health of women and children.
  • Reduced preventable diseases and illnesses (Chagas' disease, leishmaniasis, diarrhea, and respiratory infections) through improved prevention, monitoring, and treatment, and strengthened health systems.
  • Trained local authorities at the district level in gender-sensitive education management.

Food security

Canada supports efforts to improve rural agricultural productivity, working with producers to move them from subsistence to market-ready production. Canada provides support in regions experiencing extreme food insecurity. This assistance to vulnerable south-western watersheds helps subsistence farmers increase agricultural productivity and enable year-round harvests, using sustainable natural resource management practices. Canada also promotes improved nutrition through support to the school meals program, run by the United Nations World Food Programme.

Key anticipated results

  • Improved sustainable and gender-sensitive agricultural production practices of small-scale producers.
  • Improved quality of high-value (coffee, cacao, and timber) and traditional crops (corns, beans, and sorghum) produced by small-scale farmers.
  • Installed environmentally sustainable micro-irrigation systems.
  • Developed gender- and climate-sensitive natural resource management plans and policies to increase food security.
  • Strengthened rural producer cooperatives and financial organizations.
  • Increased access to high-quality, nutritious food.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Due to its weak capacity and limited resources, the Honduran government has struggled to take the ownership necessary to increase aid effectiveness in Honduras. However, the development of the new national development plan is viewed as a step in the right direction.

Donors work together through a formal coordination system, sharing information, avoiding duplication, and aligning their support with local needs.



Achievements 2011-2012

Children and youth

  • Reduced infant mortality in 206 communities from 96 deaths in 2009 to 36 deaths in 2011 through improved local primary health programs.
  • Helped reduce malnutrition rates for children under five from 12.9 percent to 10.9 percent in Santa Barbara, and from 25.1 percent to 23 percent in Copan, through improved municipal health programs
  • Reached a 73 percent treatment rate of the parasitic disease leishmaniasis in selected communities.
  • Helped increase the number of children graduating from Grade 6 from almost 91 percent to 98 percent, and the number of children attending preschool from 60 percent to 64 percent through improved teaching techniques, the availability of school materials, and an increase in the number of school days.
  • Through contributions from Canada and other international donors, the Global Fund is providing HIV/AIDS treatment to 8,100 people, has detected and treated 10,000 cases of tuberculosis, and has distributed 13,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to families for the prevention of malaria, from 2002 to 2013.
  • Provided 30,000 young men and women with health services, HIV/AIDS prevention, and early pregnancy health care.
  • Registered 5,774 girls and 6,103 boys for community health care—95 percent of them received vaccinations.
  • Provided access to potable water to nearly 24,000 people in 29 communities
  • Helped reduce child and maternal undernutrition for 209,765 Hondurans.

Food security

  • Trained 4,000 people in sustainable agricultural production and water management.
  • Provided improved corn and bean seeds to 1,200 farmers, which increased productivity by 25 percent.
  • Provided school meals to 156,792 girls and 162,920 boys at the primary level.
  • Increased public awareness of farming issues and sustainable agriculture through formation of a national association of farmers.
  • Installed 500 irrigation systems and more than 400 water filters benefiting 3,000 people.

Achievements 2010-2011

Children and youth

  • Helped recruit and train almost 4,000 community health volunteers, with an 81 percent retention rate, who now provide improved health services.
  • Helped build more than 460 latrines and nearly 150 water storage containers, improving environmental sanitation conditions and reducing diseases such as diarrhea and parasitism, associated with child mortality and malnutrition.
  • Helped more than 760 pregnant women and 1,280 children access health centres, and ensured that 95 percent of pregnant women had a birth plan.
  • Helped train 180 health workers in health care standards and adolescent counselling and 700 teachers in HIV/AIDS prevention and improved access to gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health services for 30,000 youth at the community level.
  • Helped build nine water systems, bringing safe and clean water to more than 12,000 people; strong female leadership in community mobilization and buy-in made this effort a success and now more women are decision makers and administrators on water boards.

Food security

  • Helped more than 1,300 families in the Nacaome and Goascorán watersheds area increase agricultural productivity.
  • Increased awareness among 14,823 individuals on the importance of managing and protecting water sources.
  • Helped establish 149 cacao plots covering 142.2 hectares of land and rehabilitated 42 farms, now used by 191 producers to cultivate cacao and timber.
  • Provided school meals to 149,800 children — half of them girls — 5-18  years of age in more than 2,700 schools through support to the World Food Programme.

Achievements 2009-2010

Food security

  • Initiated three projects aimed at increasing food security and income of small-scale producers by improving rural agricultural productivity and diversity, and by promoting sustainable resource- and land-management practices.

Children and youth

  • Helped enable access to HIV/AIDS prevention and early pregnancy services for 12,850 adolescents.
  • Helped deliver counselling, health promotion services, and hygiene awareness to 28,000 beneficiaries.
  • Helped 565 beneficiaries gain access to safe drinking water and supported the construction of 241 latrines.
  • Contributed to the provision of daily school meals and de-worming treatments to 110,017 children (including 56,109 girls) from 5 to 18 years of age.

Map of international development projects in the Americas

Map of international development projects in the Americas

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Honduras (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada29.02
Other departments and sources0.23