Exploratory mission in Honduras: the necessity to work on disaster risk reduction

In June 2023, the team of Première Urgence Internationale conducted its second humanitarian exploratory mission in Honduras, a Central American country vulnerable to climate change and where nearly one in three inhabitants is in need of humanitarian assistance. Tinou-Paï, the emergency coordinator within Première Urgence Internationale and head of the mission for this exploratory project, reflects on the reasons and outcomes of this field experience.

mission exploratoire au Honduras de l'ONG Première Urgence Internationale

Firstly, what is an exploratory mission?

An exploratory mission is an essential step for any new humanitarian response, as it allows for assessing the relevance of intervening in an area or country where the NGO is not yet present. It has multiple objectives, three of which can be highlighted:

  • Assessing humanitarian access in an area where a vulnerable population has been affected by a crisis – caused by war, economic collapse, natural disaster, or a public health emergency.
  • Analyzing the priority humanitarian needs of this population, including food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, primary healthcare, mental health and psychosocial support, protection, and shelter, in order to define an appropriate response strategy.
  • Evaluating the necessary modalities from legal, administrative, logistical, financial, and human resource perspectives, to be able to launch an emergency operation and establish a humanitarian mission.

exploratory mission in Honduras by the Première Urgence Internationale

Why conduct an exploratory mission in Honduras?

Honduras was chosen for several reasons. The country is facing multiple and multidimensional crises. It is worth noting that Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, where one out of every two people lives in poverty. Honduras has been dealing with chronic insecurity for many decades, which has resulted in significant protection and violence issues for the population. It notably has the highest femicide rate in the world. Moreover, Honduras is extremely exposed to climate change, including phenomena such as El Nino-induced drought and the two hurricanes that struck the country in 2020, Eta and Iota.

Due to these various reasons, the Urgent Team of Première Urgence Internationale has observed a deterioration in the country’s humanitarian situation, with the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance almost tripling between 2020 and 2023, rising from 1.2 million to over 3 million people.

meeting to assess needs in Honduras by the Première Urgence Internationale exploratory mission

What is the initial assessment of this exploration?

The outcome of this exploratory mission in Honduras highlights significant humanitarian needs across various sectors, including access to water and food security, primary healthcare and mental health, as well as protection. In other words, it is a country where the integrated approach of Première Urgence Internationale could be highly relevant. The organization also observed a significant migration phenomenon towards the United States, Mexico, and Spain, which directly impacts each family in Honduras.

Gender-based violence, as well as domestic and conjugal violence, are prevalent in the daily lives of the populations in this country. The necessity to work on disaster risk reduction must also be taken into account for any intervention. Additionally, Honduras is particularly marked by humanitarian underfunding, which may pose a major challenge for operating in the country.

Meeting with the community during Première Urgence Internationale's humanitarian exploratory mission to Honduras

Under what conditions did the exploratory mission take place?

In Honduras, our team consisted of five individuals, including an exploratory mission head, three technical coordinators focusing on different sectors (food security, health, and protection), and a logistics officer. We worked together for 15 days to assess the country’s overall humanitarian needs by visiting various regions we had pre-identified as priority areas. We covered 11 out of the 18 departments of the country, with a particular focus on two zones: the Caribbean coast in the north – particularly exposed to violence and natural disasters, and the West of the country, traversed by the “dry corridor” and experiencing high rates of malnutrition.

To assess the humanitarian needs, we interacted with communities, listening to and discussing with them to understand their requirements. We also visited health centers, schools, hospitals, agricultural fields, and isolated villages. Furthermore, we engaged with local and international NGOs and representatives from the local, departmental, and national governments.

Analysis of the environment in Honduras by the NGO Première Urgence Internationale

Since 2019, the SUDOP (Service for Emergency and Operational Development) has conducted 11 exploratory missions: Burkina Faso, Sudan, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Venezuela, Armenia, Poland, Moldova, Honduras, and Pakistan. Eight of these missions have led to emergency interventions and the establishment of missions for Première Urgence Internationale.

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