Supporting Locally Led Development in Honduras to Address Food Insecurity
This post was written by William Wallis, senior project manager and Daniela Farinas, project manager in the Youth, Livelihoods and Agriculture practice area, Creative Associates International.
Locally Led and Locally Owned Solutions in the Dry Corridor
Juana Mercado Pineda and Juan Escobar and their family of 10 children in Siete de Mayo, Honduras, live in the center of the Dry Corridor. About five years ago, they were introduced to a water harvesting collection system that provided irrigation for their fields and fresh water for their home. The system continues to serve them today.
Juana and Juan are two of the many individuals and organizations that identified challenges and devised local solutions to resolve them. USAID’s Locally Led Development priorities and the Local Capacity Strengthening Policy at their core are development by and for local actors. These principles have been eagerly embraced by and honed by Creative Associates for years. In Honduras, the World Bank and INVEST-H, supported by the Dry Corridor Alliance project, demonstrated how a program integrated idea generation, prioritization, implementation, measurement and learning — all driven by local actors in one of the poorest regions of the world.
Navigating the Seven Principles of USAID’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy
Creative has developed its own Localization Compass to help its program teams navigate the seven principles of USAID’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy. Through a set of predefined questions, Creative’s staff and local partners can ensure approaches are tailored to the aspirations, goals and needs of local system actors and determine appropriate approaches that catalyze local leadership and ownership for sustainable development. One example of how the technical and data management skills of local networks were improved can be seen in the implementation of the national strategy for the prevention of malnutrition, called the Estrategia de Atención Integral a la Niñez Comunitaria.
National Strategy for the Prevention of Chronic Malnutrition
One of the major problems in the Dry Corridor of Honduras is the chronic malnutrition experienced during the first two years of life.
Traditionally, interventions to combat malnutrition have been aimed at identifying and treating malnourished children and providing reactive care — rather than preventative care. In Honduras, the Ministry of Health redefined its approach to address chronic malnutrition in children age 2 and younger by organizing and coordinating systems and local actors to prevent chronic malnutrition. It recognizes families as leading change agents to improve the environment for child growth and development.
This locally developed and led strategy has improved community access to and use of health-related services, especially through an established referral process at the community level.
The Dry Corridor Alliance’s Approach to Locally Led Development
The Dry Corridor Alliance project supported individual, community and institutional actors in diverse capacities to strengthen and reactivate the national strategy in select municipalities. From working with mothers at the household level to improving child feeding practices to strengthening system actors through more structural interventions, the project improved cross-sector coordination and the skills of local implementers including municipalities.
Local actors analyzed conditions and patterns of behavior that perpetuate high levels of food insecurity in the region and developed family and community level plans, as well as establishing a management committee made up of private sector, government and community members to improve the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, equipment and services. Training of the management committee improved its ability to effectively lead the local implementation of the national program. Creative’s technical assistance enhanced data management practices to ensure local actors have the skills to inform budgetary, policy and strategic decision-making.
In coordination with SESAL, the health secretary of Honduras, 240 community volunteers were trained on nutrition and health practices, who in turn worked with schoolteachers, parents and community leaders to establish school and community gardens. Local health practitioners were trained on topics including child growth monitoring, use of project monitoring system, andragogic teaching methods, elaboration and implementation of community health plans.
The Dry Corridor’s initiatives were designed and led by the community. Community members understand the barriers and the cultural context, bridging the gap between opportunity and transformation. Volunteers and health practitioners trained on the technical aspects of WASH and nutrition, in turn, continue to educate women and other community members on best nutrition practices. The school gardens continue a year after the project ended because the teachers and community members use the school vegetable gardens as part of the school feeding program. The recipe book funded through the program continues to be used by families to cook meals that not only improve child nutrition, encourage more dietary diversity through recipes like arroz con mango (rice with mango) and reduce post-harvest waste. The communities continue to promote healthy feeding practices such as exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of child life.
Learn more about the Dry Corridor Alliance project and how its locally led development approach built small holder farmer resilience to climate change, and visit this interactive story map.