Skip to Main Navigation
Results BriefsDecember 21, 2022

Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience in Honduras

Muro Gabion en Petoa, Honduras. Proyecto Riesgo de Desastrees

Gabion Wall in Petoa, Honduras, on December 2022.

World Bank

Since 2000, the Government of Honduras with consistent World Bank (WB) technical and financial support has been implementing systematic reforms to strengthen Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and climate change adaptation, focusing on poor and vulnerable populations. The Proyecto Gestión de Riesgos de Desastres (PGRD), strengthened national, municipal, and community-level disaster risk understanding and preparedness; implemented a series of structural and nonstructural mitigation measures that built community resilience to hydrometeorological events; and supported the Government’s capacity to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies. The project benefited 1.3 million people, 52 percent of whom were women.

Beneficiary Story

Calixta Martínez, a project beneficiary and leader of the Garífuna organization Mariposa Negra, which covers five communities in the Department of Atlántida, shared the following anecdote: "The Project was very helpful. We learned about disaster risk mitigation, and when Eta and Iota struck Honduras, there was no loss of lives in our community. Alerts were issued to the population in advance, due to the capacity building given to us by the project, and we alerted other neighboring communities on time."


Honduras is a lower-middle-income country with an estimated population of 10.06 million and a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $2,540, in 2021. The country faces significant development challenges, with 48.3 percent of households living below the national poverty line and 22.9 percent in extreme poverty, in 2018. The country's high vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change, including hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and landslides, has hindered efforts to sustain economic growth and reduce poverty. In 1998, the impact of Hurricane Mitch was particularly devastating, affecting 90 percent of the country and approximately 6.2 million people, causing 5,657 deaths, and reducing the country's human development index. Following this catastrophe, the Government recognized the importance of shifting from a focus on response to investing in prevention and mitigation. However, poverty, urbanization, environmental degradation, and climate change continue to contribute to the country's high vulnerability to natural hazards. 


The PGRD supported Honduras to: (a) continue strengthening its capacity for integrated DRM at the municipal and national level; and (b) improve its capacity to respond promptly and effectively to an eligible emergency. It aimed to continue to strengthen the outcomes achieved by the WB Proyecto Mitigación de Desastres Naturales (PMDN) and address remaining gaps in understanding and managing disaster risks. 

National-level DRM capacities were strengthened by improvements in hazard knowledge and early warning systems though investments in the National Center for Atmosphere, Oceanography and Seismic Studies (Centro Nacional de Estudios Atmosféricos, Oceanográficos y Sísmicos, CENAOS) and in hazard monitoring stations that collect and transmit data on natural hazards. 

At the municipal and community level, investments in municipal development and territorial planning methodologies improved preparedness and enabled risk-informed decision-making. The participatory methodology applied in the project engaged local authorities and communities in identifying disaster and climate risks and preparing Municipal DRM Planes Municipales de Gestión de Riesgos (PMGRs) and Municipal Emergency Plans or Planes de Emergencia Municipal (PEMs)

In addition, response capacity at the municipal and community level was improved by the creation, organization, and training of the emergency committees or Comités de Emergencia Municipal (CODEM) and Comités de Emergencia Local (CODEL), while the development of an Indigenous Peoples Plan (for Garifuna and Tolupanes) ensured that Indigenous Peoples participated in the DRM process. Consultation with Indigenous Peoples and the Afro-Honduran population in project areas was an impactful pilot that provided the national DRM Agency (Comisión Permanente de Contingencias, COPECO), with a better understanding of the needs and risks these communities face, while building local preparedness for the most vulnerable communities.

Structural mitigation works, such as bridges and stormwater canals, reduced household risks to natural hazards and improved the lives and livelihoods of communities. The CODELs and CODEMs were involved in the implementation of these works and are expected to contribute to their maintenance, supporting the sustainability of the investments.

1.3 M

1.3 million beneficiaries, with 52 percent female beneficiaries, and 96 percent of sampled beneficiaries satisfied with the DRM activities


Overall, the project contributed to a significant improvement in Honduras’ emergency preparedness and response compared to 25 years ago. As an indicator of such improvement, after the 2020 Eta and Iota tropical storms, a much lower number of fatalities (99 in Honduras) were observed than in the case of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 (approximately 5,600 in Honduras). While the 1998 hurricane and the 2020 storms are different hydrometeorological events in nature, they have hydrological similarities - water level measurements on the ground suggest that the magnitude of their impact is comparable.  

The project met and exceeded its objectives. Some of the primary achievements include:

  • 1.3 million beneficiaries, with 52 percent female beneficiaries, and 96 percent of sampled beneficiaries satisfied with the DRM activities, with 93 percent satisfaction from the female sample. 
  • 18 municipalities adopting municipal DRM and emergency plans (PMGRs and PEMs), and 38 cities with improved livability, sustainability, and/or management because of the project interventions. 
  • 225 Emergency Committees functioning effectively, through the organization of 20 CODEMs and 205 CODELs that were equipped and received training under the project. The active participation of women in management positions reached 42 percent.  
  • Capacity-building workshops to CODELs on climate change, gender, shelter management, community-based early warning systems, DRM, drills, and operation of seismographs, accelerographs, and hydrometeorological stations, reached 34,500 participants, of which 14,692 were women and 2,000 were Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Honduran communities.
  • 100 percent of the mitigation works were assessed independently as technically, economically, and environmentally satisfactory, with approximately 284,000 people benefitting directly and approximately half a million indirectly from the forty structural mitigation measures implemented, with temporary employment generated for 4,600 people.
  • 55 nonstructural mitigation measures implemented, where eight thousand people participated in the workshops that focused on building knowledge of DRM, climate change, and environmental sustainability. 
  • Rapid response to emergencies was improved with the Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) activated twice to provide access to financial resources to support the Honduras' response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the state of emergency following 2020 Tropical Storms Eta and Iota. Accessing CERC funding was swift on both occasions - it took three weeks. 


Bank Group Contribution

The project was funded by an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $26 million.


The project was implemented by the national DRM agency, COPECO.

Looking Ahead 

The achievements of the project are likely to be sustained given the Government of Honduras’ commitment to managing natural hazards and climate change, and the roles of the local authorities in the project’s implementation. In addition, a second Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) for Honduras was recently approved to support COPECO implement a major overhaul of the national DRM framework, SINAGER, which will strengthen and promote a more integrated approach to DRM, with a focus on risk understanding, risk reduction, preparedness, response, and recovery, as well as strengthening risk financing. In addition, the World Bank continues to provide technical assistance to COPECO on mainstreaming DRM across various government ministries and promoting inclusive DRM.   

Learn More