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FEATURE STORYApril 24, 2023

Betting on sustainability in the Moskitia, in Honduras, to create new livelihoods

A group of indigenous people working in the fields of La Moskitia

Group of La Moskitia inhabitants working the fields of the region

Source: Ayuda en Acción

Located on the Caribbean coast, in the northeast of Honduras, lies the Moskitia, a multicultural region, and the land of four of the nine indigenous and afro-descendant peoples who inhabit this Central American country: the Tawacas, Pechs, Garifunas and Miskitos. With more than 80,000 people, the Moskitia is the region with the second-largest indigenous community in Honduras.

The Moskitia is a land full of natural resources, where you can get lost in the beauty of its lagoons, mangroves, and rainforests. The abundance of nature provides its inhabitants with livelihoods from fishing, agriculture, and seasonal jobs linked to the surrounding land and sea. However, the natural magnificence of the region contrasts with the multiple challenges faced by its residents. Welfare and livelihoods are affected on a daily basis by the lack of infrastructure, connectivity, health care, education, and by the high levels of income poverty.

The development that does not consider our ancestors and our practices is not the right one.
Dolly Diaz President of the Council of Elders of Gracias a Dios
Dolly Diaz
President of the Council of Elders of Gracias a Dios

Multidimensional poverty in the Moskitia stands at 71.8 percent, above the national average of 67.2 percent. Multidimensional poverty is a measure that reflects the multiple deprivations that poor people face at the same time in areas such as education and health, among other essential aspects to have adequate living conditions.

The population of the Moskitia faces high food insecurity, with 43 percent of people lacking reliable access to affordable and nutritious food, according to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). Studies on food insecurity in the Moskitia show this to be 17.9 percent higher than that experienced by people in the other 17 departments of Honduras

The inhabitants of the Moskitia believe that development should go hand in hand with their cosmovision, respecting their traditional beliefs, practices, and ways of interacting with the environment. People in the Moskitia have lived in harmony with nature for years, taking advantage of what the land and the sea provide them, while caring for these resources. As Dolly Díaz, President of the Council of Elders of Gracias a Dios, says, "development that does not consider our ancestors and our practices is not the right one."

Group of people that have benefitted from the project in La Moskitia

Group of beneficiaries of the La Moskitia project in Honduras

Source: World Bank

Since 2021, through financing provided by the Japan Social Development Fund, the World Bank has supported the people of Moskitia to expand their socioeconomic activities and increase their livelihoods. The project, Improving the Livelihoods of Miskito indigenous peoples in the La Moskitia, works with the local communities to build from their traditional practices of sustainable agriculture and fishing toward a more diversified and resilient local production system in the face of the multiple external shocks, the communities face, including climate change. The project, implemented by Ayuda en Acción, works with the Miskito population seeking to target at least 1,800 Miskitos in four communities.

The project helps increase and diversify food production in the area. The Moskitia’s main agricultural products are plantain, cassava, and rice. Through this project, support is provided to the community to promote their agricultural, fishing, and livestock activities, as well as poultry farming, the latter resulting in a more diversified diet and food production.

The project promotes the traditional knowledge of the Miskitos by strengthening their administrative, organizational, and financial capabilities with the goal of increasing the economic benefit from their agricultural and fishing activities. The Miskitos adapt their traditional practices along with climate-smart agriculture actions, gender participation and food nutrition, increasing their efficiency while being better prepared for natural hazards.

In Puerto Lempira, for example, the Yahurabila fishing community combines traditional knowledge on how, when, and where to fish to reduce the depletion of marine resources with sustainable fishing techniques that help them to increase their livelihoods. In addition, using sustainable fishing techniques minimizes the waste of fish products. Also, the project supported fishermen families installing solar panel systems in the Yahurabila and Yamanta communities to preserve their products in cold chain storage, minimizing losses.

Similarly, in Puerto Lempira, an indigenous market called Auhnka was created where farmers sell surplus crops and fish, reducing wasted food and increasing livelihoods.

To date, through this project, it has been possible to improve the livelihoods of more than 1,200 direct beneficiaries; of these, 66 percent are women, who are now more closely involved in all productive agricultural, administrative, and financial activities. The project indirectly benefits 4,252 people from 30 of the 78 communities of the Moskitia.

To achieve sustainable social development in Latin America and the Caribbean, we must ensure that it is inclusive. It must be based on traditional knowledge, the cosmovision, and the leadership of indigenous communities. Projects like the one implemented in the Moskitia region are a clear example of how we can positively change people's lives, guaranteeing respect for people's traditional knowledge”, concluded María Gonzalez de Asis, Sustainable and Social Inclusion Practice Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean.

To learn more about the World Bank’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean, please visit this page.

Learn more about the World Bank in Honduras.

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