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Responding to COVID in Honduras under strict lockdown

10 April 2020

Honduras has the highest number of cases in Central America so we are preparing for the worst. For a country of 9 million people, there are only 20 ventilators in the country. This is the stark reality for poor and vulnerable communities throughout Honduras facing into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Human Rights Defender, Adilia Castro, at a protest before lockdown in Honduras - Photo : Giulia Vuillermoz

The lockdown in Honduras is very strict and legally enforced. At first even the shops were closed and we had no way of getting food. Things have loosened up a little now because tensions were high and sparks of violence were appearing because people were hungry. Now people can get supplies on certain days.  

But the government has clamped down even further on civil liberties like freedom of speech and on the media to avoid any criticism. This will make it difficult to get information about the national response to COVID and how it is being handled. It really reduces the public’s ability to question politicians or officials who are in charge. This is very worrying and makes it a difficult environment to work in. 

For Trócaire, our partners are trying to navigate the lockdown and help communities to prepare. We work in the poorest and most vulnerable parts of Honduras.  

Our new humanitarian food assistance programme runs across 3 countries: Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. We are working with people in what is known as the dry corridor of Central America. We are adjusting this programme for COVID right now. We had originally targeted over 12,000 people but this figure will increase.  

Our partners are providing information and training around handwashing and social distancing in communities. They will also be distributing hygiene products where they are needed. All the staff working on these programmes also need protective equipment so they can work safely. We are using local radio and social media a lot to spread the word and give people the right information.  

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Photo Giulia Vuillermoz

We are also distributing food and hygiene supplies in the women’s shelters we support. During any time of crisis we always see that violence against women increases, making them especially vulnerable. It is important that our work responds to this situation. We are already seeing an increase in the numbers of women coming to shelters looking for refuge. The longer this crisis goes on the harder it will get.  

Trócaire works with 25 local organisations in Honduras which gives us a really strong insight into what is needed in communities.  

We support people who are the poorest and most isolated, even before COVID hit Central America. They were and still are struggling with drought, food shortages and then the inevitable landslides and flooding when the rain eventually comes. They were already living on the edge. So the long-term impacts where we work will be horrendous.  

Luckily our partners and networks are established and trusted so we can reach people with support.

Thanks to the generous support of the Irish people, we will respond where needed despite the challenges. We will continue to support the most vulnerable people in the world who are affected by this crisis. Trócaire will continue to provide hope even in the most difficult of times.

Jenny Cornally is Regional Institutional Relations Manager for Central America for Trocaire

COVID-19 knows no borders and neither does your compassion. We know not everyone is in a position to support this work right now, but if you can, please consider supporting our Lent appeal. Your support means we can support communities affected by COVID-19 in places like Honduras, Syria and Somalia.

You can donate online or by phoning:
1850 408 408 (Republic of Ireland)
0800 912 1200 (Northern Ireland).

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