In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras, causing approximately 8,000 deaths, leaving 1.5 million people homeless and large-scale devastation to infrastructure and crops. Following an international humanitarian relief effort, reconstruction became a central policy objective for the Honduran government. Four years on, the effects are still felt. In urban areas many people continue to live in temporary shelters, while in rural areas, peasant farmers struggle to survive, having also been affected by an ongoing coffee crisis and four years of low rainfall.
On 25 November 2001, opposition presidential candidate, Ricardo Maduro, from the National Party, won the elections with 53 per cent of the vote. Maduro was the preferred candidate of big business and the Catholic Church. Following a spate of violent crime, voters were attracted to his pledge of 'zero tolerance' on crime. However, there is concern that his pledges will be used to clamp down on civil society participation and increase control over citizens. There has been a marked increase in police and military presence on the streets since Maduro's electoral win.
Christian Aid supports five partner organisations focusing on: agricultural rehabilitation and environmental protection; promotion of local organisations; preparedness for natural disasters; strengthening alternative forms of production, trading and commerce; and advocacy for women's rights.
Christian Aid operates its Central American programme from Honduras. In 2001, it organised a Central American Regional Conference for partners and Christian Aid staff. Participants agreed on the Central American programme's priorities for the next four years. View video.
The Alternative Community Marketing Network (COMAL) featured in Christian Aid Week 2002, focusing on trade and COMAL's role in supporting local trade.
The Women's Collective runs workshops where families can share their experiences of Hurricane Mitch and provide mutual support. View video.