Searching for a safe haven in Honduras

April 18, 2017

Searching for a safe haven in Honduras

The homes of the coastal community of Cuyamel in north west Honduras may be washed away before 2017 is over.

A woman hangs her washing in Cuyamel, Honduras

A resident of Cuyamel hangs her washing out. In the background are homes that have already been destroyed by the seas. Photo: Frank McGrath.

The century-old community of 84 families, 522 people, must find a new home because the river and the ocean are swamping the land they live on.

Sea level rise, floods and storms caused by climate change are forcing them to search for a safe haven.

But where will their new home be? 

The community has found a piece of land and its owner is keen to sell. They are lobbying their government to buy the land for them. 

They want to be safe and they want to stay together. But they are competing to buy the land with a wealthy company which has earmarked the land for palm oil production.

Miriam who featured on this year’s Trócaire box with her daughter Maria (6) says: ‘Politicians have known for several years about the danger, but have done nothing about the problem and now the situation is really bad. One of the reasons we want to buy the plot of land not so far away is so the community will live together. I don't know what will happen but I hope we stay together."

Miriam and Maria, Cuyamel, Honduras

Miriam Marivel Campos Perez (30) and her daughter Maria José Gonzáles Campo (6) outside the local school in the coastal community of Cuyamel, Omoa, Honduras. Photo: Clare McEvoy/Trócaire

Trócaire, with support from the local government and our partner CASM, has funded the dredging of a canal which allows families to be evacuated to a safe point when the floods come. 

Trócaire is also supporting the community's efforts to secure a new home, and is working with the Honduran Climate Change Alliance to raise awareness of the problems.

If you would like to lend your voice to the communities call for a new home you can send an email to any or all of the following contacts in Honduras:

Wiladina Chang, Governor of the Cortes Province 
email: [email protected]

Profe. Ricárdo Alvarado, Mayor of Omoa
email: [email protected]

Clarisa Morales, Home Office Vice Minister 
email: [email protected]

José Galdamez, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment
email: [email protected]

Sergio Palacios, Director of the National Directorate on Climate Change
email: [email protected]

Please copy Trócaire’s Country Director on your email [email protected]

Suggested message

You can send your own message or cut and paste the text below in both English & Spanish:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing to you to ask you to use your influence to assist the 84 families that live on the Cuyamel and Motagua sandbars in the Municipality of Omoa.   Due to its geographical position these are some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. In the last few years the encroachment of the sea on the land has accelerated, which has had serious consequences for the 84 families that still live there.

These communities were founded in 1900 and since 2000 they have been displaced because of rising sea levels. Today, they find their lives and livelihoods are at risk of being lost at any moment. This population lives in very precarious socio-economic conditions, dedicating themselves to fishing and rice cultivation which is no longer possible in the area due to the seriousness of the situation.

The area was declared a high risk and inhospitable area in 2014 and the families live in a permanent state of alert.

I am appealing to you in your position of responsibility to urgently attend the need for a permanent relocation of the families that are facing the constant threat of the flooding of their land by the sea.

Yours sincerely


Señora/Señor,

Por medio de la presente me dirijo a usted y a la institución que dirige con el propósito de invitarle a tomar acción sobre la dramática situación que viven 84 familias en Las Barras de Cuyamel y Motagua en el municipio de Omoa. Por su posición geográfica es uno de los municipios más vulnerables del país. 

Las Barras de Motagua y Cuyamel son las comunidades más expuestas a riesgo donde en los últimos años la intrusión del mar a tierra continental ha sido acelerada y con consecuencias graves para 84 familias que aún viven en el sitio. 

Estas comunidades se fundaron a principios del siglo XX y es a partir del 2000 que comienzan a ser desplazados por el mar y se encuentran hoy día en una trampa mortal que en cualquier momento cobrará vidas humanas. Son personas en condición socio-económica muy precaria que se dedican a la pesca y cultivo de arroz. Estas actividades están prácticamente interrumpidas por la gravedad de la situación.

Desde el 2014 fue declarada como zona de alto riesgo e inhabitable y la condición de las familias es de estado de calamidad pública.

Apelo a su conciencia y sentido de máxima responsabilidad por el cargo y función que desempeña para atender de manera urgente la necesidad de reubicar a las familias de manera definitiva por la amenaza permanente que representa la invasión del mar a tierra continental.

Me despido de ustedes de la manera más atenta.