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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Pearson

Honduras: Identifying Gaps in Accessing Public Services

Great resources for understanding the challenges and barriers to inclusive economic growth and good governance can be found in USAID’s Development Experience Clearinghouse, known as the DEC. Each month USAID Data Services disseminates Curated Development Materials through the DEC Express, which features topics in the news, recent, popular and the most downloaded documents.

The January 2022 DEC Express features an analysis designed and conducted in 2016-2017 by Brenda Lee Pearson for USAID/Honduras and DAI: Honduras Local Governance Activity, an Analysis of Gender, Vulnerable Populations and Social Inclusion. The objective was to identify gaps that prevented women, youth, indigenous groups, people with disabilities, and the LGBTI group to access municipal services. The assessment team found fundamental challenges and lags in the implementation and effective functioning of laws and institutions created for the attention of vulnerable groups, due to budgetary constraints, the lack of trained personnel, cultural barriers and the lack of transparency, among other aspects.

The full report may be found at:

Some other barriers to the full and effective participation of vulnerable groups in public and private spheres stem from the "informal" definition of power structures within the family, the socio-economic arena, political parties and other instances of representation. Cultural conceptions linked to the roles assigned to women, for example, involving the care of family and domestic life, limit their participation in other public order activities. This situation is deepened by other participation inhibitors as domestic violence, economic limitations, and low self-esteem, among others.

On the other hand, stigmatization towards youth, aggravated by the situation of unemployment, early pregnancy and violence in which young people are victims and perpetrators, shows a scenario of exclusion. Discrimination against the LGBTI community, due to a traditional conception of identity, which has generated hate crimes, as well as exclusion from family, educational and health care spaces, adversely encourages the anonymity of these groups in the West of Honduras.

Racism, discrimination against indigenous peoples, and mistrust and antagonism among indigenous organizations and the State for the management and use of natural resources, exposes another barrier to overcome. On the other hand, the lack of general awareness about people with disabilities’ needs, the vulnerability of their work rights, education, access to specialized health services, mobility and freedom of movement; also exposes challenges for this population group.

Even so, there are opportunities for participation and representation of vulnerable groups in decision-making bodies. The principle of parity, implementing by a quota system of 50% representation of women in the municipal candidate lists. Local NGOs had been created such as the Citizenship Transparency Committees (CTC), the Municipal Committees for Educational Development (COMDES), the Rural Health Centers (CESAR), the Medical Centers with Physician and Odontologist (CESAMO) and the Water Boards; which make the participation of the community at the municipal level possible. These spaces provided opportunities to enhance the voice of vulnerable groups in Honduras at the local level.

The analysis made a series of recommendations of how USAID programming could effectively close these gaps and advance civic participation.

· Strengthen existing inclusive bodies and structures in the country

· Optimize existing public consultation mechanisms at the municipal level, such as the Open Town Council and participatory budgets to ensure the inclusion of vulnerable groups in decision-making

· Align the provision of municipal services with needs in education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, among other sectors.

· Strengthen the capacity of municipal officers to integrate gender issues and vulnerable populations into municipal management.

· Encourage full participation of civil society in municipal management and in social audit processes, and especially organizations representing women, youth, populations with disabilities, indigenous communities and the LGBTI community.

· Establish a communication, dissemination and awareness strategy that guarantees the promotion of social inclusion and promotes a culture of social inclusion within the USAID "Honduras Local Governance Activity."

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