Millennium Development Goals - Honduras

Honduras located in Central America’s eastern coast, is a country characterized by pristine beaches, lush jungles, breathtaking mountains, and fascinating ancient ruins.Over the last two decades, Honduras has seen a strengthening of its democratic system and civic participation, however according to Honduras’ MDG report the country’s unstable economy remains the greatest challenge for its continued and progressive development. Due to economic and meteorological reasons, the country is vulnerable to external shocks of all kinds. Recently the global coffee price crash hit the country’s key export market, and a 28 % appreciation of the Lempira in 1997-2001 combined with the U.S. economic slowdown hit exports in general. The influx of emergency and development assistance following Hurricane Mitch was the key factor in driving up the currency. The country’s propensity to having natural disasters remains high, and is exacerbated by the uncontrolled clearing of mountain woodlands and tropical rainforest. These have weakened the country’s natural defenses against major storms. Today about 25% of the country’s population finds itself in a vulnerable situation as their regions are still recovering from Mitch.

Another major problem faced by Honduras today is the proliferation of gangs. The lack of opportunities faced by the young Hondurans have made the country fertile ground for the spread of the Maras phenomenon. Today Mara’s violence makes the country’s already precarious situation, even more problematic. Controlling gang violence is a pressing need that curtails investment in national development. The incomes of most Hondurans remain below the poverty line, however, due to increased public spending on health and education the country today shows some promising results.
Over the past decade vaccination programs reached virtually the entire population, maternal mortality fell from 182 per 100,000 live births to 108 per 100,000, a 38 percent reduction, chronic malnutrition in children aged 1-5 fell from 44 percent in 1987 to less than 33 percent in 2001; and primary school attendance rose from 78 percent in 1980 to 85 percent in 2002.

Honduras has an Human Development Index of 0.667, ranked 116, just above Guatemala’s. The life expectancy rate is 67.8 years and the adult literacy rate is 80% for those 15 years and older.
Honduras GDP is $2,655. The Gini index is 55, the share of the income or consumption between the poorest and richest 20% is 2.7 and 58.9 and the inequality measure is 21.5 between the richest and poorest 20%.

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day. By 2002 63.9% of Honduran homes were reported to be living below the poverty line and 45% were extremely poor, living on less than a dollar a day. The report states that if Honduras continues at its current slow rate of progress the goal of reducing poverty by 42% will not be achieved until 2032 and extreme poverty will not be reduced by 25% until 2030.

Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. According to Honduras MDG report the number of undernourished children increased from 34.9% in 1991 to 36.2% in 2001. Furthermore, if the trend continues by 2015 the figure will have gone up to 38.1%. These numbers show that there is a major problem in Honduras in it effort to reduce the number of hungry people in half by 2015. Unless there is a major change the goal will not be reached. Having said this Honduras MDG 2003 report used an incorrect indicator to evaluate undernourished children. It used "prevalence of chronic underweight for children between 6 and 9 years" instead of using "prevalence of global underweight for children between 0 and 5 years", as recommended by the UN for this goal. In this case the figures would be 21.4 % and 18.4%, respectively. Moreover, if we take into account chronic and acute underweight in under five children, the figures would be 42.4% and 32.9% for the first and 1.8% and 1.0% for the second one.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.

Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling. This is an area where Honduras, like most countries of the region is doing well. The net enrolment in primary education in 2001 was 88.3% and in secondary education was 35.3%. If there are no major changes in the current situation it is estimated that by 2014 Honduras could reach 100% enrolment in primary education.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.

Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. As of 2001 in Honduras there were 101 girls in primary school for every 100 boys and it is projected that by 2015 the difference will be of 104 girls for every 100 boys. Part of the reason for this disparity is the fact that boys in the rural areas are expected to work as soon as they are done with their primary education.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.


Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five. For this particular goal the Estrategia para la Reduccion de la Pobreza (ERP) - a Honduras centric set of MDG complementary goals - has set the goal that by 2015 the number of deaths among five year olds should be of 22 for every 1,000 live births. The current projections of the UN report are that if current trends continue in Honduras, neither the MDGs goals on child mortality nor the one set by the ERP will be reached by 2015. Between 1986 and 1990 the number of deaths per 1,000 live births was of 55 by 1991-1995 it had dropped to 48 deaths per 1,000 live births and it had further dropped to 45 by 1996-2000. That translates to an average drop of 1.8% annually and at the current trend the number of deaths in Honduras in 2015 will be of 35/1,000. Having said this, the 2003 MDG report did not consider that the figures correspond to periods, not to exact years.

So, the tendency graphic must be moved to the left. In spite of this it is true that the goal would not be reach by 2015. PAHO’s calculations for this indicator are 27.5/1,000 by 2015, only a half reduction respect to 52.5/1000 in 1990. The UN MDG report did not emphasize the behavior of infant mortality tendencies. For this particular indicator, the Honduras’ National Institute of Statistics measures and estimates since 1950, through national census and surveys. Using this data, Honduras would have 21.2 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015 in comparison with 52.77 in 1990. This means a reduction of 60%, very close to the goal of two thirds. That is still above the number of 18 expected from the MDG and of 22 expected of the ERP.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health.


Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio. Just as was the case for Objective 4, the Estrategia para la Reduccion de la Pobreza (ERP) - a Honduras centric set of MDG complementary goals - has set a different goal for this objective. The goal is reducing by half the maternal mortality ratio in Honduras. It is projected that by 2015 Honduras will meet the goal suggested by the ERP of reducing the maternal mortality ratio to 77/100,000 live births as well as the goal set by the MDG of reducing the ratio to say 60/100,000 live births.

Another important aspect of this goal is to have a specialized person present at the time of delivery. This has improved considerably between 1991, when the percentage of births attended by a specialized individual was of 45.6% and had increased to 61.7% in 2001. However there are large disparities between rural and urban areas of the country in what relates to the percentage of births that take place in a specialized location, with expert people present, and under sanitary conditions. While, in 2001, the number of births in a specialized location in urban areas was of 82.4% the number was only 37.5% in rural areas.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.


Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Honduras is on the rise. Honduras has the largest number of people infected by HIV/AIDS in all of Central America and is in fifth place in the continent as a whole. Honduras reports 43% of cases of HIV/AIDS in the region despite having only 17% of the population of Central America. In 2001 the number of new cases reported in Honduras of AIDS was of 102 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. And as by 2002, there were a total of 18,000 people living with HIV in Honduras, of which, according to ITS/HIV/AIDS 14,181 had already developed AIDS.

Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases. For the most part the major diseases in Honduras have been reduced. The most common disease is still malaria with 1,088/100,000 inhabitants in 1990 but it was reduced to only 685/100,000 inhabitants in 2000. Tuberculosis has really not been reduced greatly since 1993. That year there were 69.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and by 2002 the number had only dropped to 65/100,000 inhabitants.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources. Honduras is doing a great effort to improve the protection of its environment and that can bee seen in the fact that the number of protected hectares increased from 480,000 in 1990 to well over 2,350,000 in 2001.

Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. In 2001 the percentage of people in urban areas with access to safe drinking water was of 91.5% of the population but only 66.6% of people in rural areas have access to safe drinking water, which shows that there is still a long way to go in those areas.

Achieve significant improvements in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. Access to better sanitary condition sin Honduras has increased from 63% in 1991 to 78% in 2001. Also the number of the population with access to electricity increased from 43.6% in 1991 to 69% in 2001. Although these are significant improvements, there is still a long way to go.

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.
No information given on UN report.

Source: PAHO - Millennium Development Goals Honduras

Further reading: Hondursa Poverty Reduction Strategy - Progress Report 2004

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