Barrio-Ciudad, a country vision that is becoming a reality in Honduras

June 7, 2013


Better basic infraestructure have helped connection and security inside some neighborhoods.

World Bank

  • The project, cofinanced by the World Bank, improves the quality of life for the urban poor while attempting to reduce violence.
  • 15 neighborhoods in 8 municipalities have benefited from the construction and infrastructure improvements and the building of playgrounds.
  • The partnership between the Government, civil society, and the private sector strengthens community leadership and the residents’ confidence.

Yordi Castellanos is a boy of about 12 years of age who lives in Puerto Cortés, a small peninsula in the north of Honduras, facing the Caribbean Sea. In the San Ramón community, Yordi is celebrating after the inauguration of a multisport facility that will change the lives of the residents, especially children and youth.

“I couldn’t wait for it to be finished, and I’m happy because my favorite sport is soccer; now we won’t have to play in the street. Thank you for thinking of us children,” says Yordi with a grin.

This multisport facility is only one of many constructions and infrastructure works in the poorest areas of several Honduran municipalities that are part of the Barrio-Ciudad Project, implemented by the Honduran Social Investment Fund and cofinanced by the World Bank.

Fifteen neighborhoods in the municipalities of Choloma, El Progreso, Siguatepeque, Puerto Cortés, Comayagua, Danlí, Villanueva, and Santa Rosa de Copán are seeing major changes: houses with access to potable water and sewer systems, ditches for rainwater, public lighting, paved access roads, steps on the slopes, building of recreation and sports facilities, and cleaning of streets and open spaces.

In addition, more than 600 community development leaders have been trained and hundreds of other young people and residents have received training in environmental management and violence prevention.

“With this sort of project we can also contribute to the country’s vision plan, which is to reduce social conflicts, especially by developing opportunities for co-existence, social cohesion with young people and leaders,” says Zunilda Martell, coordinator of the Barrio-Ciudad project.

" I´m happy because my favorite sport is soccer, now we won´t have to play in the street. "

Yordi Castellanos

12 years old, Puerto Cortés

More security, less crime

Honduras has the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most violent country, with 82 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations. Crime is more prevalent in the poorest urban neighborhoods. That is where Barrio-Ciudad is trying to give youth an alternative to improve their surroundings  and have a decent life.

“Now the children will not have to play in the streets, they can do it in a safer area. Now they will not be in such danger. We will be at ease knowing that our little ones are not exposed to all kinds of harm, and when our children are safe, we are happier,” says Juana Márquez, a mother in Puerto Cortés.

The neighborhoods are being spruced up: where were slopes full of litter and garbage, now there are concrete steps connecting the higher zones and the city; where there was a stream with wastewater, now there is a sewer system; where there was an open space and a patch of earth, now there is a street with streetlights.

A promising future

The project is financed with $15 million from the World Bank and $1.5 million from the Government of Honduras. This is supplemented by contributions from the municipalities for between 15 percent and 20 percent of the total cost of the subprojects.

In addition to increasing the capacity of the communities in environmental matters and security, Barrio-Ciudad receives financing from the Japan Social Development Fund for temporary work programs for young people and single women heads of households.

The initial results of Barrio-Ciudad, which began in 2006, are very promising. In the first community where all the infrastructure and social training work was done, 85 percent of the residents feel safer in their neighborhoods, while 76 percent feel safer in their homes.

“It has been important to see how capacity building activities such as vocational, environmental management, community development and specific training to the key community actors (teachers, leaders, policemen) have helped the beneficiaries to understand better the sources of crime and violence and to design effective measures to prevent them,” says Yoonhee Kim, a World Bank urban development specialist.

Moreover, the close cooperation between the national government, the municipal and community authorities, the private sector, and civil society strengthens community leaders and residents’ confidence in officials, and improves relations among neighbors, as shown by this project’s success.

There was a workshop on "Experience of the Barrio-Ciudad Projects for the Improvement of Poor Urban Neighborhoods and Citizen Co-existence with Community Involvement,” which sought to facilitate the exchange of experiences and lessons learned in the project and disseminate the accomplishments in the implementation of the Barrio-Ciudad Project at the national level.