Capacity-building to reduce vulnerabilities to disaster risks in highly vulnerable communities in Honduras


The inauguration of the Honduran Green Cross base in the Campo Bejuco Community, Potrerillos, in the Department of Cortés and the upcoming inauguration of the Masca Village Base in Omoa (Honduras) is an initiative to provide an immediate response to the daily emergencies in that area. These services include pre-hospital assistance, disaster preparedness and response, and humanitarian aid. From this, various activities have been derived that have involved the inhabitants of the area, such as community clean-up campaigns, hygiene promotion, environmental sanitation, emergency response, strengthening of response capacities to adverse events, as well as empowerment through the socialisation of the legal framework that governs risk management at the national level. The financing of the activities and the operation is under the execution of the operating budget; the bases in turn organise economic activities to meet additional costs, and financial and in-kind support are received. Lobbying, socialisation and advocacy with community, government and health stakeholders have taken place. The functioning of the bases is in force and year after year various plans and projects are implemented, aimed at empowerment, resilience and assistance to the community in general.


The action and response plans directly implemented involve community actors, as are the community members who support the initiatives proposed by the grassroots volunteers, and these plans are now part of the local response. The Municipal Mayor's Office, CODEM (Municipal Emergency Committee) and the employees of the Ministry of Health present in the area, have taken an active part in the initiative that provides transportation, supplies and medicines for emergencies, response to floods and epidemics, hygiene promotion and environmental sanitation. Coordination has been achieved through the socialisation of plans and proposals at all levels. These coordination activities are carried out by the Local Executive Boards and the volunteer rescue workers of the bases.
The initiative comes from a group of women with many years of foundation called "Las Marías", made up mostly of single mothers and housewives who have expanded their sources of income and strengthened their capacities with knowledge ranging from pre-hospital care, humanitarian work, drafting of various articles, and baking, among others. As for the children, this year the opening of a Pioneers Officer's Office has been considered, where children aged 7 to 15 years old will have the basic knowledge of first aid response and disaster preparedness, including search, rescue and evacuation methods and techniques. Elderly people are included in various activities, as well as people with disabilities, in order to engage the wider community in empowerment and subsequent capacity building.
The activities carried out are prioritised according to the context of the communities, for example, the degree of vulnerability is taken into account and therefore the possible impact of the adverse events that occur and of everyday emergencies.


The initiative is based on the commitment of the volunteers, who serve the community without any financial compensation, but rather work with their achievements and the responsibility to achieve goals together with the other members of the communities. National resources have been limited, so the response and implementation of the plans is somehow the responsibility of the regional bases.
At the time of the opening of the Honduran Green Cross bases, the communities did not have human talent trained and prepared to deal with emergencies and humanitarian assistance, which is why the objectives of empowerment, strengthening and response have been met. They remember that this response directly influences the socialisation of adaptation practices and techniques and minimises vulnerabilities, and that the final goal is to become a resilient community provided with the necessary equipment and knowledge for the first response, which involves the community as a whole.


Studies have been carried out that involve the exact location of recurrent phenomena in selected areas, through joint work both with community authorities and with the population in order to prioritise capacity-building needs. In the area of environmental sanitation, activities have been carried out with monetary funds other than municipal funds. It is not known whether the present situation, since there is no previous reference, is due to the lack of municipal capacity to manage the necessary funds or to the inability to prepare profiles of mitigation projects, community empowerment or in some way, communities are not included in the analysis and prioritisation of vulnerable areas.
Even though the actions of the Integral Disaster Risk Management (DRM) are governed by the Law of SINAGER (National Risk Management System), this Law has not yet been socialised and yet, it is in a new process of regulation, so the response to disasters occurs only when an event causes damage in any part of the country, prevailing humanitarian aid and in some way opening shelters. The Honduran Green Cross is a member of SINAGER, as well as of COPECO (Permanent Commission on Contingencies) and directs civil protection in the country. We have contributed and participated in the elaboration and socialisation of plans, policies and other types of inputs related to DRM.
Municipal and local emergency committees, boards of trustees, water boards and the Honduran Green Cross itself, as a member of SINAGER and COPECO, are responsible for the first response in the communities. There is not enough equipment to achieve the optimisation of this response, so we work within the activities in the socialisation of the initiatives that are executed with all actors.
The possible availability of long-term funding depends on the advocacy action and the submission of funding proposals for the continuity of activities at community level. Various lobbying activities are carried out with national and international organisations capable of providing these funds to the institution.
The Honduran Green Cross has brought empowerment, education, engagement and the establishment of new practices at the community level, as well as the implementation of a volunteer service involving people of all ages. Let's remember that apart from being highly vulnerable to everyday disasters and emergencies, they currently suffer problems of insecurity, so by becoming active members of the institution, children and young people find a mechanism that allows them to move away from gangs and bands, and are motivated to develop their communities.
The Honduran Green Cross is a non-profit, voluntary institution within the country, with a high degree of assistance in humanitarian work and pre-hospital care in an emergency situation, whose purpose is to provide first response and humanitarian assistance at any time, caring for the affected people. Over the years, the action taken in supporting and developing the communities has been decisive in redirecting the operation, contingency, action and intervention plans, and has been adapted to their needs.