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.

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

Global Affairs Canada29.02
Other departments and sources0.23