Honduras has declared a war on hunger within its borders. Currently the governance is working toward making food security a constitutional right. Seemingly ambitious, the Honduran government has coupled with Non-governmental Organizations like Honduras Outreach Incorporated and made significant progress. A plan has been instated, and goals are set to be reached by the year 2038. In a world in which food insecurity plagues people everywhere, and in a country where this issue is evident around every corner, it is a wonder progress has been realized. Not only that, but confidence has supported a plan to nearly eliminate hunger and malnutrition within a developing country in the next thirty years, an indicator that something must be working. This leads us to question what in fact the plan is and why it is believed to be so successful.
At the 2011 World Hunger Summit at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Emelisa Callejas, the Consul General to the United States from Honduras, passionately and animatedly lectured about her country’s progress toward eradicating hunger within its borders. She ranted about a plan she had participated in creating–three parts and brand new. The slides were barely constructed clearly, jammed with information discussing first a technical unit, a plan to work with Non-governmental organizations, and finally civil society (Callejas). The work she had to do, she explained to us, took years of aggression. She told a story about forcing her way into a government official’s office, quite literally sticking her foot in the door as it was being shut in her face. In her thick accent, Callejas worked herself to tears in communicating her drive to end this injustice in her country, no matter whose door she would have to beat down for resources.
Callejas complained that governance in Honduras was inefficient. The implemented policies would be sustained as long as powerful offices were held by certain officials, then upon a new election, entirely new policy would be established, forcing the country to begin a new plan. Now, she felt it was different. The current plan is to culminate in 2038, creating a country in which malnutrition would be unconstitutional, something not seen in any country in the world (Callejas). Callejas explained that, beginning with government offices who would coordinate the efforts, the plan would then incorporate NGOs. These NGOs would provide outside knowledge that would be used to educate the native population, as well as efficiently implement the policies. Finally, and most importantly, Cajellas stressed the third and final aspect of civil society. She emphasized transparency, uniting the rich and poor, and incorporating citizen participation. She continued to use the phrase “you are poor, but you are important” when talking about those who suffer most in her native country (Callejas). Equality, she claimed, was the most important aspect of beginning a development process.
After Emelisa, a woman named Laurie Willing spoke at the summit. Laurie works for Outreach Honduras International, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She explained her work to the audience saying they first prevent deaths, then instruct on health, then teach natives how to access their own resources. Her organization uses “basic funds and a little monitoring to provide pride and dignity,” and in turn community participation to reaching the country’s goal (Willing). Willing prided her organization in being an integral part of the second tier in Honduras’s plan for food security, incorporating outside knowledge of farming practices into the indigenous population’s knowledge of the area. Not only this, but she explained that the most important aspect of the plan was the incorporation of the native people. Communities actually come up with their own plans for successful development (Willing). Outlined in the organization’s annual report are six program areas, including agriculture, health, and education. After graduating students from agricultural vocational schools, HOI sends them back to their communities to share and implement their knowledge (2010). Willing shared a story about teaching a small town how to create a fish farm. She said after about six months, HOI workers came back to the area to check up on progress and found three more ponds, each created by the Hondurans living there (Willing). This evidence of community participation, Willing explained, is the true source of success for HOI.
These efforts have resulted in implemented development programs in over twenty seven communities within Honduras, one hundred more students entering middle school, forty-one students graduating high school, 171,000 women and children receiving healthy foods, and 28,000 families benefitting from this increased food security (2010 and “PM Announces”). Honduras Outreach’s accomplishments cover pages and pages, addressing agriculture, community development, economic development, education, and health (2010). The success of these programs can be attributed to native participation and passion for the cause. It is not difficult to convince someone that starving people must be fed, but to rally around a cause as a nation, to accept outside knowledge, and to implement that knowledge in a sustainable way (nothing is better than a lucrative development plan), creates a formula for lasting change.
The success is receiving global recognition. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Administrator, John Brewer, in June 2010 discussed his getting involved with a plan to increase biotechnology for farmers in Honduras, organize trust funds, and increase connection to suppliers (“Usda Official”). This grassroots initiative has expanded to become an educational opportunity for Honduran farmers, as well as an opportunity to create an established system of obtaining food and income.
The future is clearing up for this country’s natives. Honduras has a bright outlook in regard to food security and community development. The balance of outside knowledge, passionate activism, and active, native participation has exponentially increased the success of program as compared to recent years. The two speakers at the World Hunger Summit echoed the themes of the entire conference: incorporating indigenous culture and knowledge into successful development, relying on native participation, and creating lasting and sustainable opportunities for growth in the food sector. Recent experiences have shown that this recipe has great potential, made evident in the case of Honduras.