Honduras: Appeal No. 01.21/2002 programme update No. 02

Originally published

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Appeal Target: CHF 990,225
Beneficiaries/target groups (if available):
Period covered: 1 May - 31 August 2002
Last Programme Update (no. 1) issued 21 June 2001


Appeal coverage: 64.5%
Related Appeals: 01.19/2002: Central America; 01.18/2002: Pan American Disaster Response Unit
Outstanding needs: CHF 351,134

Summary: Although crop production in El Paraiso in May proved excellent, the south of Honduras continues in the grip of severe drought, exacerbating fears of food deficits and malnutrition. Heavy rains in late May and early June affected the departments of Olancho, Francisco Morazdn, El Paraiso and Valle. Although rains fell in the drought-stricken areas where the Honduran Red Cross (HRC), with support from the Federation and PNSs, is implementing the drought operation, subsistence farmers' land on high, sloping ground was not affected. In late June, outbreaks of dengue fever occurred in Honduras and the new category of "social volunteers" played an important role in awareness-raising and clean-up activities. In August, the `familia prevenida"or wise family campaign was re-launched with the participation of 19 branches of the Honduran Red Cross, and aims to reach 5,000 families living in risk areas by the end of the year. Governance training at branch level is being carried out, focusing on HRC policies and guidelines and stressing the separation between governance and management. In June, the delegation moved premises and reduced numbers of staff in order to cut costs and in anticipation of the introduction of a different structure of Federation support to the Honduran Red Cross in 2003.

Operational Developments

Despite the government's introduction in January 2002 of a "zero tolerance" policy in relation to violent crime and the assignment of an additional 10,000 police and security officers to the streets of the four largest towns in Honduras, crime rates do not appear to be decreasing. In recent months, it has come to light that some 1,300 street children have been killed in Honduras over the last four years. As a result, the government is launching a dedicated security force to conduct investigations. Furthermore, the atmosphere of violence is affecting businesses and several "maquila" have been closed in the past year as a result of the crime rates. In addition to street violence, the incidence of kidnapping (with 17 cases as of September) is on the rise. There is also a risk that popular demonstrations will become increasingly vitriolic in protest at low salary levels, as occurred during a coffee workers' demonstration in August. (Source: Economist Intelligence Unit).

In late May and early June, three days of heavy rain in Honduras resulted in floods and landslides in the departments of Olancho, Francisco Morazan, El Paraiso and Valle. In the municipality of Juticalpa, department of Olancho and the municipality of Talanga, department of Francisco Morazan, a total of 14 houses were destroyed and around 70 people were evacuated to shelters. Although the heavy rains affected drought-stricken areas in which the Federation is working, subsistence farmers' plots, on sloping land on high ground, were not flooded, although planting of seed was postponed until the heavy rains ceased. In El Paraiso, crop production at the end of May proved excellent. The south of Honduras, however, remains in the grip of severe drought conditions which are increasing fears of widespread hunger and malnutrition. As a result of irregular rainfall and protracted spells of heat, all crops of beans and sorghum were lost. The Centre for the Investigation of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) estimates that a maximum of 35-40% of the maize crop will be saved.

Disaster Response

In the context of the drought operation, in May 2,250 vulnerable families in Valle, Choluteca and El Paraiso received seeds and fertilizer in order to assist with agricultural recovery. In addition, training was carried out in the use of silos for storing grain, and educational material was provided: 120 silos were distributed in El Paraiso (70 of which in 2001), 68 in Valle, and 32 in Choluteca and Pespire. These were funded by the Netherlands and Spanish Red Cross Societies and training and logistics were facilitated by an NGO entitled Postcosecha, a cooperative of local artisans accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture. In El Paraiso, silos were distributed on a family basis, whilst in Valle and Choluteca, these were provided to groups of families. A further 48 silos have been ordered and will be distributed by the end of October in Choluteca and El Paraiso. Five micro irrigation projects were identified and will be financed by the Spanish Red Cross; two have begun in Danli through the Red Cross branch. Projects will also take place in Pespire, Nacaome and Choluteca; each project benefits an average of 18 families.

In response to heavy rains and flooding in late May and early June, Honduran Red Cross volunteers carried out evacuation of families at risk and assessed damage and needs. In addition, three national intervention teams (NITS), mobilized in the south and centre of the country, coordinated the evacuation of 21 families with the Talanga branch. A total of 246 families in Olancho received food rations for a week, two blankets and used clothing.

As of late June, outbreaks of dengue fever occurred in Honduras. A state of emergency was declared on 22 July by the Honduran government, given that the number of cases of "classic" dengue fever in 2002 had more than tripled in relation to the previous year, and the number of cases of haemorraghic dengue fever had increased dramatically. The last time such a high caseload of dengue fever was experienced was following the hurricane Mitch disaster in 1998/1999.

The Honduran Red Cross supported the Ministry of Health in fumigation and clean-up activities and Red Cross youth brigades participated in education and awareness sessions in schools. The Honduran Red Cross benefits from a community health network established together with the PNS present in the country, and trained the new category of "social" volunteers to carry out activities in dengue fever prevention. Home visits were carried out in order to identify larval breeding grounds and to raise awareness of preventive measures, including cleaning of the immediate surroundings to eliminate stagnant water. The HRC with the support from the Canadian and American Red Cross Societies, reproduced educational material for a total of 10,000 families.

Disaster Peparedness

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.

The Honduran Red Cross benefits from 24 people trained as members of national intervention teams (NITs) and 12 people trained as members of regional intervention teams (RITs). A member of the HRC participated in the RITs refresher course held in Panama in mid July, the aim of which was to ensure preparation of RITs teams in advance of the hurricane season, in the event of a large scale disaster.

Following NITs training in the development of contingency planning, in June, a workshop was held in San Pedro Sula in order to introduce the methodology at branch level. To date, 80% of the branches have drawn up or revised their contingency plans, and the deadlines for submission of drafts has been set for 15 September 2002.

The HRC's national disaster plan is currently under revision; the national response plan is an integral part of this plan. Branch presidents, NITs members, volunteers, youth members met at a national workshop for the revision of the plan, following which a commission was formed in order to carry out follow up activities and to ensure consultation with each of the regions: the north/the Atlantic coast/the west/the south/the centre and the east of the country, as regards the different roles to be fulfilled and the overall response structure. Much progress has been made and it is hoped to complete revision of the national disaster plan, including the response plan, by the end of the year and to carry out dissemination in 2003.

Two regional warehouses have been set up and equipped in Nacaome and Danli. In September, three additional, strategically located warehouses in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula are to be established and equipped with funding from the Federation. There are plans to establish more warehouses in La Esperanza, Juticalpa in Olancho and in Copan with funding from the American Red Cross. During the reporting period, basic relief equipment was provided to 20 branches, bringing to a total of 49 the number of branches with relief equipment for six volunteers.

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.

The Honduran Red Cross has been working since June 2001, together with the American Red Cross, on the Central America Mitigation Initiative (CAMI) project which took place in 15 communities and, through an agreement with the Ministry of Education, through 15 schools in Valle, Choluteca and Tegucigalpa. The project builds community organization to respond to disasters which is supported by school response brigades. The project was completed in June 2002 and to celebrate its achievements, a disaster simulation exercise was held.

In August, the "familia prevenida" - wise family - campaign was re-launched with revised materials, following an evaluation held in late 2001. The local NGO, Comunica, assisted in the re-design of the materials. Following consultations with the branches country-wide, the campaign was taken up in 19 branches in the departments of: Atlantida, Yoro, Cortes, Intibuca, Francisco Morazan, Olancho, El Paraiso, Valle and Choluteca. The aim is to reach 5,000 new families living in communities where there are risks of floods, and/or landslides by the end of the year 2002. One coordinator has been appointed in each branch taking part in the campaign who supervises nine volunteers, and facilitators are also being trained within the communities. The first phase of the campaign, which is now taking place, involves a base line study, collecting data on the situation of each family and is followed by the drawing up of plans on a house-to-house basis. Radio spots on the need for emergency plans at family level are also aired.

In late August, the Honduran Red Cross participated in a workshop organized by the national emergency body, COPECO, on emergency provision of water. A study on the provision of ambulance services in the country was facilitated early in the year by COPECO, CEPREDENAC and supported by OFDA. As a result, the HRC has been recognized as a leader in this area. The Ministry of Health has agreed to fund the installation of a radio in the ambulances in order to ensure contact with hospital emergency services.

In 2001, the Spanish Red Cross, in cooperation with a local NGO and the World Bank, initiated a project in community organization and disaster response in garifuna communities. Six technical studies on risks in garifuna communities were undertaken in order to assess the degree of vulnerability to hurricanes, flooding, landslides and diseases including HIV/AIDS. The studies were carried out between January and August 2002, and consultations as regards the follow up begin in early September.

Humanitarian Values

Objective 1: To improve the capacity of human resources amongst Red Cross youth in knowledge of humanitarian values and principles for peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution.

The humanitarian values programme has received no funding to date. However, given the social and economic climate in Honduras, initiatives in non-violence and peaceful coexistence remain a high priority. Current estimates indicate that there are approximately 30,000 members of child gangs or "mareros", in Honduras and that around 60,000 people can be considered as "sympathisers" of these gangs. During the reporting period, the HRC participated in a forum organized by Save the Children focusing on juvenile violence in the area of assistance to children who had left child gangs and in use of leisure time.

In relation to the issue of domestic violence, since November 2001 the Spanish Red Cross has been funding a programme which seeks to inform women, victims and potential victims of domestic violence, of their legal rights and awareness-raising sessions have been held amongst women who remain in shelters in Tegucigalpa.

Health and Care

Objective 1: To build on the youth peer to peer education programme through the implementation of a related pilot project to fight stigma and discrimination faced by HIV+ people and those suffering from AIDS.

A pilot project in HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination was initiated in Honduras on 16 June, focusing on branches in areas with the highest rates of HIV infection. The headquarters and 11 branches in the north west of the country and on the Atlantic coast were initially targeted, and by the end of August, a total of 13 branches had been involved. The project aims to boost awareness in issues relating to HIV/AIDS within the Honduran Red Cross membership, and four hour workshops have been held with each of the 13 branches. The session includes a knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) exercise through a questionnaire made up of 13 questions, five of which are directly concerned with stigma and discrimination. Part of the session looks to share experiences related to HIV/AIDS amongst those taking part who are Red Cross personnel, volunteers and members of the community. To date, a total of between 380 and 400 people have participated in the workshops. Results of the workshop, evidenced through the questionnaire which looks at knowledge prior to the workshop and following the discussions, are highly positive. Each branch has been requested to put together an action plan including four activities in the community which highlight the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, and a small budget of some USD 125 has been made available per branch. The Omoa branch has submitted a proposal and others are currently awaited. These activities will culminate on 1 December with the re-launch of the hand-print campaign carried out on 8 May and which collected a total of 3,200 hand prints in solidarity with those living with HIV/AIDS.

As a result of the project, strategic alliances have been forged with PAHO and ONUSIDA, together with the national network of people living with AIDS in Honduras, Asonapvsidah. An strategic alliance agreement with this organization has been drafted and in Comayagua, a self-help group which forms part of Asonapvsidah, is receiving support from the Red Cross branch. Asonapvsidah is particularly interested in developing a Red Cross module for first aid tailored for people living with AIDS. Exchange of materials and promotion of information on the Honduran Red Cross's campaign with the 13 national organizations working in HIV/AIDS are taking place.

By the end of December, the Honduran Red Cross hopes to train 55 trainers of trainers in HIV/AIDS awareness-raising who will be selected from the body of youth volunteers.

A further initiative which is being studied, is the possibility of training 30 councillors who would work with the Honduran Red Cross blood banks located in Tegicigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, providing advice and support to persons tested HIV positive.

Based in Honduras, a regional volunteer chairman for HIV/AIDS initiatives was appointed for a one year period to give guidance and support for HIV/AIDS projects and activities in Central America. With funding from DFID, a further project is under formulation with the objective of increasing awareness amongst the Honduran public of the suffering caused by discrimination against HIV/AIDS infected persons, and in partnership with HIV/AIDS infected persons, to design a regional anti-stigma campaign for 2003. This project will be implemented between October and December 2002.

Organizational Development

Objective 1: To reinforce the capacity of governance and management of the Honduran Red Cross

Governance training at branch level, funded by the Federation and the PNS, is currently being carried out through workshops focusing on HRC policies and guidelines, stressing the separation between governance and management responsibilities. Training components include: principles and values; planning and fund-raising. Workshops are held on regional basis: one was held for the south in May, for the north in June, for the east in July and workshops for the west and central regions are currently pending.

The recommendations of the consultant hired by the HRC, with the support from the Federation, to carry out an analysis of the accounting systems and procedures, resulted in the introduction of a computerized accounting system and the hiring of a finance specialist to work in budgeting, finance systems and the drawing up of financial manuals. An IT specialist was also recruited who will work on developing a network for the HRC which will improve communication and information sharing. In June, a new internal auditor was recruited who is working to tackle issues in finance, to establish and implement administrative procedures, to provide support in these areas to the branches, and to monitor the management of logistics procedures.

The "joint commission", made up of members of the ICRC and the Federation which responsible for analyzing and approving National Society Statutes, reviewed the revised HRC Statutes, which it is planned to present at the HRC General Assembly on 21 September. In June, work began on drawing up the regulations for the Statutes.

In order to disseminate the national development plan at all levels of the National Society, the HRC is training "change agents" who make up a dissemination network to support awareness-raising in relation to the national development plan at branch level. There are currently 15 people who have been trained and the aim is to have one disseminator in each branch of the National Society by the end of the year.

Branch strengthening based on the model of a well functioning national society is taking place with funding from the Federation, the Netherlands, Spanish and Swiss Red Cross Societies. A total of 35 branches are currently involved in this process, and expansion is planned to include three further branches as of September, with potential support from the Canadian Red Cross. The process is based on the following components: strengthening of the branch organizational structure; promotion of the Red Cross image; improvement of the perception of the branch within civil society; enhancing sustainability and the provision services for the most vulnerable. Each of the branch presidents has signed a agreement, guaranteeing commitment. The branches in which the process is funded through the Federation are: Santa Rosa de Copan, Copan Ruinas, Marcala and Camasca.

During the reporting period, a 49th HRC branch was created in La Entrada in the department of Copan.

Objective 2: To consolidate the human resources programme for volunteers and staff.

The HRC trained 18 volunteers and members of staff in leadership and management through a five-month course between October 2001 and February 2002 at the Unitec university of technology in Honduras. The new regulations for volunteers are currently being disseminated at branch level. The volunteer data base has been updated with new information included and a project entitled "volunteer well-being" has been initiated to review the needs of volunteers in view of ensuring continued motivation and their retention with the Red Cross.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Fundamental Principles and Initiatives

In Honduras, school brigades conduct activities focused on the following themes: principles and values; disaster preparedness and HIV/AIDS.

The Honduran Red Cross has created strategic alliances with the national network of people living with AIDS and is part of the national forum on HIV/AIDS.

A pilot project in HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination began in mid June. To date, 13 branches have participated in the project which is implemented as a priority in areas with high rates of HIV infection.

A volunteer data base has been set up and a project designed to improve the well-being of volunteers has been implemented with a view to enhancing volunteer motivation and retention.

Coordination and Management

Objective 1: to ensure efficient and effective use of resources made available through the Federation.

In June, having fulfilled most of the major commitments to the National Society, the Federation delegation in Honduras was significantly reduced from a composition of three delegates (HOD - 50%) and 12 local staff to two delegates (50%), a local finance officer and a local assistant. In addition, the delegation moved into another building in order to share premises with the American Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross and the Italian Red Cross with a view to reducing costs and maximizing shared resources both amongst the PNS and the regional team.

Objective 2: Promote, facilitate and lead improved coordination amongst the Honduran Red Cross, the Participating National Societies, the ICRC and external partners, including all present and potential strategic alliances.

Regular meetings are held with all Movement partners. In addition, the HoD is a member of an informal group of strategic partners including NGOs such as CARE, World Vision, Oxfam, Plan International and Save the Children. Close contact has been maintained with the UN agencies and Embassies in Tegucigalpa.

Although a cooperation agreement strategy (CAS) was drawn up in the year 2000, this was largely a series of information from PNS. Today, it is more feasible to create an all inclusive CAS since it is possible to base this on the National Society's national development plan, together with strategic and operational plans per sector of work. Through a computer programme, data is being compiled in relation to activities carried out by the Honduran Red Cross with the support of the Federation and PNSs, together with programmes implemented through other donor agencies. As a result of this mapping of humanitarian activity, it will be possible to identify priorities and gaps for future intervention. In addition, the HRC is designing tools for monitoring and evaluation of projects included in the national development plan, to measure progress and impact in relation to indicators and proposed objectives.

Advocacy/Public Information

On World Red Cross Day in order to launch the campaign on HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, the President of the Honduran Red Cross together with the mayor of Tegucigalpa, joined people living with HIV/AIDS. As a gesture of solidarity, officials and members of the public left their painted hand print on canvas that had been signed with messages by HIV/AIDS sufferers. The same canvas will tour Red Cross branches where more solidarity hand prints will be added. In addition, the Honduran Red Cross/Federation created a television spot focusing on HIV/AIDS and Red Cross work in this area, which was broadcast on CNN for several days. On 1 December, this campaign will be revived with the HRC branches actively raising awareness and collecting more hand-prints.

Outstanding needs

Although the appeal has a coverage of 64.5 per cent, there is a major problem with core funding which is not available for the delegation in Honduras, placing constraints on efficient programme implementation.

For further details please contact Olaug Bergseth Phone : 4l 22 730 45 35; Fax: 4l 22 733 03 95; email: bergseth@ifrc.org

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.

John Horekens
External Relations

Santiago Gil
Americas Department

Annex 1

APPEAL No. 01.21/2002
10' 000