Honduras: Appeal No. 01.21/2002 Annual Report

Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 178 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org
Appeal target: CHF 990,225; Appeal coverage: 66.4%

Overall analysis of the programme

A major achievement in 2002 is the development of a planning environment within the Honduran Red Cross (HRC) which has now permeated the organizational culture. The national development plan was formulated, together with strategic sectoral plans and operational plans of action in each programme area which are constantly monitored and evaluated. Planning tools are also being introduced at branch level and the HRC is working to disseminate new methodologies and concepts through "agents of change" within the branches. The revised Statutes of the National Society were approved by the General Assembly in late September 2002 and the regulations are currently under review. Improved capacity in planning has resulted in the development of a national disaster plan, together with branch contingency plans in the event of emergencies. A pilot project focusing on stigma and discrimination in relation to HIV/AIDS was launched in June 2002 with positive results. In addition, given the major problems in Honduras related to juvenile delinquency and youth gangs, the National Society is exploring the possibility of undertaking a pilot project in the area of youth and violence. Over the year, the Honduran Red Cross responded to the acute drought in the country as part of the regional appeal launched in September 2001; the National Society also implemented activities to eradicate mosquito breeding sites and carried out awareness initiatives, following a serious outbreak of dengue fever. Five regional warehouses were created, providing decentralized disaster response capacity in the event of disasters, and coordinators of the stocks and warehouses were nominated. Following an evaluation and the adoption of a new project methodology, the "wise family" campaign, focusing on community-based disaster preparedness, was re-launched during the year. The second generation country agreement strategy (CAS) is under development, and efforts made to secure additional partners and donor resources.

Honduras is highly vulnerable to natural disasters; in addition, the social and economic climate is particularly fragile. Considerable progress has been made in each of the National Society's progamme areas over 2002. However, given that Federation presence in Honduras has been much reduced and that it is planned to close the Federation delegation in June 2003, there will be a need to ensure continuous support to the Honduran Red Cross from the regional delegation.

Objectives, Achievements and Constraints

Disaster Response

In 2002, the effects of the drought continued to be felt, and water shortages were most severe in the south of the country, particularly in Valle, Choluteca and El Paraíso. Food insecurity brought about by the drought mainly affected subsistence farmers and the drought gradually took the form of a silent disaster affecting not only agricultural production but also taking its toll on health and the nutritional status of communities; in addition, reduced access to food also had adverse effects on the local economy.

Over 791,300 persons were affected by the drought, of whom 316,745 were classified as suffering from emergency food shortages in Valle, Choluteca and El Paraíso. The Honduran Red Cross, in coordination with the Federation, the American Red Cross, the German Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross, the Swiss Red Cross and USAID, distributed improved seed and fertilizer, together with food aid for a three month period. A total of 5,786 families received 237.16 metric tonnes of food and 27.55 metric tonnes of bean and maize seed were distributed amongst 1,914 families in order to boost agricultural production. In addition, 268 silos were distributed in the departments of Valle, Choluteca and El Paraíso, and farmers also received training in their use.

The Federation supported the Honduran Red Cross in the development of five micro irrigation projects which were implemented in the department of El Paraíso, benefiting 100 families which were trained to ensure maintenance of the micro irrigation systems. These families also received seed in order to begin planting. The harvest at the end of May in the department of El Paraíso was exceptional with a 90 per cent increase in normal crop production. This was a result of favourable rainfall levels for the sowing of crops. However, in Valle and Choluteca, the drought became more severe which directly affected the harvest. Farmers were able to harvest only some 45 per cent of the crops sown, despite having used improved seed and fertilizer, and there were further problems with pests.

The capacity of HRC branches which participated in the drought operation was strengthened through the development of a range of projects as a result of which agreements were reached with the Ministry of Agriculture and the municipalities. These agreements resulted in the families who benefited from the micro irrigation projects forming a cooperative with access to credit and to stalls in the market during agricultural fairs; families also received technical advice from the Ministry of Agriculture's department of water.

In July 2002, the Honduran government announced a state of emergency in view of the increase in the number of cases of classic dengue fever which had tripled in relation to cases in 2001; cases of haemorraghic dengue fever also increased sharply. With support from the Ministry of Health, the Honduran Red Cross supported cleaning and fumigation activities. Red Cross youth brigades took part in educational days, awareness raising in schools, and with the support of the new category of HRC programme volunteers, clean up and prevention initiatives were held within communities in which the Honduran Red Cross is carrying out health programmes with the support of PNS.

Disaster Preparedness

Objective 1: To provide support in order to strengthen the capacity of the HRC to implement its response system quickly and effectively in the event of local and national disasters.

With support from the Federation, the Honduran Red Cross drew up its national disaster plan which looks at response in times of disaster, defining intervention procedures, methodology for damage and needs assessments and guidelines for National Society assistance. This is an operational tool which clearly defines activities, responsibilities and roles which each member of the HRC must assume in the event of a disaster situation. The plan sets out the activities which the national headquarters, branches and the community need to carry out in order to assist the affected population.

In order to draw up the national disaster plan, five consultative workshops were held to achieve consensus and agreement as regards the updating of the previous plan which had been in force since 1989. An initial workshop was held with heads of relief at departmental level, branch presidents, female and youth volunteers, zonal relief coordinators and representatives of PNS. A total of 25 participants produced the first outline of the plan which was then shared and discussed with branch representatives through a further four regional workshops, in which 20 people took part on each occasion.

The finalization of the draft national disaster plan is one of the major achievements in 2002. The plan is pending final approval by the National Society.

In parallel, a draft of the disaster policy guidelines based on the Federation's disaster policies was drawn up by the national volunteer and disaster commission, made up of experts in this field. The guidelines define the National Society's area of work, its limits and its relevance within the institutional framework.

In addition, in order to strengthen HRC capacity to respond to disasters, a network of response experts was set up nationwide. At the end of 2002, 30 members of the national intervention team (NIT) had been trained, as well as 12 members of the regional intervention team (RIT) who are based in Honduras. As a result, disaster preparedness for response to disasters at national and regional level has been much enhanced.

In 2002, the National Society delivered three workshops focusing on the SPHERE project: in the north of the country this training was supported by the Spanish Red Cross, in the centre of the country, the course was funded by the Federation, and in the south, a further workshop was held with the support of the American and Swiss Red Cross Societies.

The members of the national intervention team promoted the importance of contingency plans at branch level; the process of developing these plans began two years ago and at the end of 2002, a total of 42 Honduran Red Cross branches have now developed a contingency plan. The process has taken place in stages, according to which each branch designs its plan based on needs and capacities. The HRC office for administration of disasters and emergencies (OPADE) assisted in the drawing up, revision and validation of plans for 42 branches, of a total of 49.

A significant achievement in 2002 was the setting up of five decentralized warehouses which form part of a system of rapid response and assistance in the event of disasters. The warehouses are located in Nacaome, Danlí, Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and El Progreso, strategic and accessible areas whereby each of the branches has rapid access to the closest warehouse. A representative in each branch was identified as focal point for the warehousing system. The focal point is responsible for promotion of the contingency plans and the management of resources, and forms part of a network of technical experts in times of disaster. This system has already begun functioning in the warehouses of El Progreso and La Ceiba.

Each warehouse has been equipped with 30 pairs of rubber boots, 30 raincoats, 30 leather gloves, 20 shovels, 20 picks, 30 plastic buckets, 140 water containers, torches, an electric generator as well as two motor boats, one of which is in the El Progreso warehouse in the event of flooding in this part of the country, and the other in Tegucigalpa, ready for mobilization wherever needed in the centre and south of the country. Likewise, 20 branches have been provided with basic equipment: helmets, raincoats, torches, mattresses, blankets, ropes. Stock was identified in accordance with the standards defined in the Federation's procedures manuals, and the purchase of basic stock for the remaining branches and the warehouses is envisaged.

In early 2003, a logistics workshop is planned for those responsible for the regional warehouses; this will take place with the support of the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) and personnel trained by the Federation.

OPADE is fully involved in the HRC processes related to organizational development and, as a result, has strengthened its capacity in planning. This is reflected in the formulation of OPADE's strategic plan and annual operational plan. Monitoring of the HRC's national development plan revealed that in 2002 OPADE achieved the highest implementation level in relation to its annual operational plan at headquarters level, with a percentage of 86.1 per cent of objectives realized.

Objective 2: To strengthen the capacity of the communities within the HRC community based disaster preparedness programme to better respond to local disasters, diminishing their vulnerability.

With the support of the Federation and the American, Canadian, Italian, Netherlands, Spanish and Swiss Red Cross Societies, the Honduran Red Cross implemented the wise family campaign "familia prevenida" in the year 2000. As a result of this campaign, vulnerable communities living in high risk areas were reached and trained to develop family contingency plans in the event of landslides and flooding. In 2002, the campaign was re-launched, based on the experience gained through the first campaign.

Meetings were held with heads of the relief departments, youth members, intervention team members and technical staff from the PNSs to re-design and adapt the campaign. OPADE re-worked the material used by the promoters of the campaign, together with the methodology. This involves three visits to each family. The first visit consists of drawing up a base line in relation to those families participating in the initiative; during the second visit, awareness is raised within the family so that its members make an emergency plan. In the third visit, the impact of the campaign on each family is measured through a survey, and a community simulation is then organized, bringing together each family's contingency plan - this is one of major new components of the campaign. The new methodology also reinforces awareness, with three visits to the homes rather than one, and it is possible to measure impact in a shorter period of time, resulting in feedback immediately after having implemented the campaign.

In 2003, it is planned that 4,000 families will take part in the "wise family" campaign through the support of 18 branches of the HRC in the departments of Atlántida, Yoro, Cortés, Intibuca, Francisco Morazán, Olancho, El Paraíso, Valle and Choluteca. Within each branch, a campaign coordinator has been nominated who supervises nine volunteers and facilitators.

The Honduran Red Cross is taking part in the process of analysis and re-design of the community-based disaster preparedness methodology in the region which is on-going. In addition to the wise family campaign, this concept formed the basis for the design of risk mitigation plans in many vulnerable communities in Honduras. Based on this methodology, the HRC developed the Central American Mitigation Initiative (CAMI) project in 2002, financed by USAID through the American Red Cross and carried out in cooperation with other organizations. The project, implemented in 15 communities, has facilitated the generation of alliances with these organizations. Through an agreement with the Ministry of Education, 15 schools participated in the project in the departments of Valle, Choluteca and in Tegucigalpa. The project seeks to strengthen community response capacity through the formation of community brigades supported by school brigades which together facilitate response in times of disaster. The project was completed with the implementation of simulations in June 2002.

In the framework of community preparedness, the Honduran Red Cross, together with the Spanish Red Cross and in coordination with a local NGO and the World Bank, continued the community organization and disaster response project initiated in 2001 in garífuna communities. These communities are made up of an ethnic group which inhabits high-risk zones in the north of the country. Six technical studies regarding risk in the communities were carried out with the aim of identifying and diminishing vulnerability of individuals and communities in the event of hurricanes, floods and landslides. Amongst the topics introduced, activities were included which focused on awareness-raising as regards HIV/AIDS prevention, given that surveys have shown this to be a high-risk population. Unfortunately, a project proposal submitted to DIPECHO was not accepted.

Constraints: In mid 2003, the Federation will conclude direct financial and technical support to the Honduran Red Cross. Although during 2002 the response capacity of the Honduran Red Cross has been significantly strengthened, it is essential to continue support in order that OPADE is able to achieve the objectives towards enhancement of institutional capacity set forth in the HRC national development plan.

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