Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the ground: why development organizations matter

CDH's new office

Erin Bickell
The CDH (in English the Centre for Human Development), has been in existence since 1985. Its mandate has changed throughout the years but they have their hands in so many different development issues in Honduras that it really is quite the perfect organization for me to get a real taste of of community development. They focus on woman’s rights, youth rights, sustainable resources and farming, risk management, equality and education.
Here is their mission statement: (or a very close English translation):
“The HRC is an organization of social movement that accompanies and promotes economic empowerment processes, political and cultural development of local and national stakeholders, particularly youth and women, promoting their own agenda and organization to achieve human development alternative, comprehensive and sustainable.”
There are mucho statistics regarding Honduras and it is repeatedly referred to as one of the most dangerous places in the world – if you look at the statistics it is indeed a scary place.  The media in North America has a huge hand to play on the negative and focus of danger in the country.  It is important to remember though that for every story that is read about a shooting, or a narcotics bust or a gang issue there are more people that are living their lives just like me and you live at home, trying to work to support their families, wondering what the future holds and what how they can make things better – except for the HUGE disparity between living conditions, monetary gain and economic freedom.  
I don’t want to throw out a bunch of statistics, as they are easily found online if anyone is interested.  But I will give one:  In Honduras over 59% of the population remain below the poverty line and 36.2% in extreme poverty, the definitions for these differ according to different organizations such as the World Bank or the UNDP but typically extreme poverty is under $1.25 per day and poverty is about$2.00 per day.  A lot of us hear these statistics quite often but lets put it into some context.
Making $2.00 per day is around $62.00 per month.  PER MONTH.  We do of course have to take into consideration the difference in prices in Honduras.  Some more context: $62.00 equals approximately 1,182 Lempiras (Honduran currency). Living on my own, per week I spend about 500 Lempiras on food (mainly fruits and vegetables, tortillas and bottled water), rent is 7000 Lempiras (however this is HIGH as I live in a secure building in town).  Consider a family of four (which is on the smaller size in Honduras) and if there is one person working there is just no chance to stay afloat, and this is not taking into consideration the expense of education, electricity, clothing, transportation and health care.  The rural population has other issues to think about as a lot of this population doesn’t have access to potable water, electricity or health care.  On drives through out the country there are makeshift stalls with people selling honey or fruit in attempt to create an income.
The CDH works at a community level with the local population to increase their own capacity working with local resources and solutions.  The entire staff at the organization (I believe in the two offices there is a total of 28 employees) is Honduran, except for a French volunteer in Tegucigalpa and myself in Choluteca.
Read more here.

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