By Miriam Donohoe
In the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, GOAL, has developed a life-saving tool that will help vulnerable communities in Honduras respond early to drought emergencies. The new protocol – the first of its type to be developed in Central America – provides guidelines to local authorities on providing effective and timely alerts and responses before, during and after drought emergencies in “The Dry Corridor” in Honduras. Titled the Protocol of the National Early Warning System for Drought Emergency Response, the tool was developed by GOAL and the National Disaster Risk Management System (NDRMS) over the last year.
Honduras is reeling from five years of consecutive “El Niño” induced droughts, with an increase in people being affected in different parts of the country. The UN has warned that rising numbers of farmers in drought-stricken parts of Honduras could be forced to leave their homes unless there is more support to help struggling families better cope with extreme weather and climate change.
In September Honduras declared a national emergency due to a severe drought that decimated staple-crop harvests of beans and maize by up to 80% in some areas. The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate nearly half a million Hondurans, many of them small farmers, are struggling to put food on the table.
Welcoming the development of the Protocol of the National Early Warning System for Drought Emergency Response, Luigi Loddo from GOAL Honduras said increasing drought preparedness capacity in Honduras will also increase the effectiveness of GOAL’s Cash Transfer Programming during emergency response in the region. “This will align social protection programmes with meeting the needs of vulnerable populations in emergencies.”
He pointed out that Honduran authorities will now be able to send alerts/warnings on drought, reaching families in need and guaranteeing them food security.
GOAL is currently providing specialized support for the creation of Cash Working Group in Honduras through the Cash Response Readiness Programming in Latin America, funded by USAid/OFDA.
Initial training programs in Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) and Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA) /Pre-Crisis Market Analysis (PCMA) are taking place in seven target countries of Central and South America.
Gabriel Rubí, Secretary of State in the Risk and Contingency Management Office (Copeco), said the tool means a unified and orderly response to drought. He said it is vitally important to develop actions that decrease the impact on families affected by the ongoing drought crisis.
Erlin Duarte, Mayor of Potrerillos, El Paraiso, said: “This tool will directly benefit local governments. Based on scientific data that aids assistance we will now be able to react early in favor of our people.”
Apart from GOAL other organisations involved in the project include the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), the Technical Unit Food and Nutrition Security (UTSAN), Copeco, Local and Municipal Emergency Committees, Humanitarian Net, Care, National Bureau of Incidence in Risk Management, among others.