We have now been in beautiful Honduras for a month working on a waste management plan for the municipality of Guayape. Getting the community involved and having their support is of paramount importance if this project is to be sustainable after Progressio ICS leave the municipality.
This week we got out amongst the community in order to gauge opinions on the waste, and to get a grasp of ways in which the community wants to get involved. We surveyed a total of 300 houses; people welcomed us into their homes. Even within this area, the gaps between the poorest and those who are more affluent are evident.
One thing has emerged from a preliminary analysis of the results; there are a plethora of opinions on the problems, causes and solutions to the waste issues in the three communities.
Here are two examples of responses to the same question: What is your opinion of the rubbish in your area?
“I believe that it doesn’t affect me, it is just bad for your health.” Maxima
“It is good to convert it into compost for the land.” Jesus Reyes
Carlos Mehija from our partner organisation Fundacion Democracia sin Fronteras (Democracy without Borders) spoke about how breaking the “indifference of people is key to sustainable development”. This doesn’t seem to be a problem here as on the doorsteps we can sense a real desire and hunger to see change, and for that change to come from within the community itself.
Our main priority over the coming weeks is to facilitate the creation of a holistic waste management system that the people of Guayape, Suyapita and Santa Cruz can both support and benefit from.
This week also saw the start of one of our smaller projects, that of the tree nursery. Deforestation is a major issue in Honduras, having the highest deforestation rates in both Central America but also to our surprise, the world. In the past 20 years, 37% of the forests in Honduras have been cut down, largely due to illegal logging.
Don Otto, a forest engineer by trade, has asked us to assist in the creation of a tree nursery. It will be used to reforest the central boulevard in Guayape and then the mountains surrounding the town, which will improve biodiversity as well as reducing the effects of flooding in the area.
So the 22 of us started in the local school, breaking up the land and removing rubbish from the site which will be home to the tree nursery over the next few years.
It was hard work in the strong Honduran sun and many blisters were found on our hands afterwards. It felt good to see the difference in the piece of land before and after our initial work, and afterwards we were treated to fresh coconuts courtesy of our very own national volunteer Pacheco, who climbed the coconut tree himself.
We all have a sense that our time here in Honduras is really flying by. Our first month has been eventful, enjoyable and thought-provoking. Hopefully the next month is just as exciting as we see all of the projects that we have started, really blossom into meaningful, sustainable projects.
Written by ICS volunteers Aaron, Dehaja and the Progressio Team in Guayape.
Photos by Otto G.H West & Benji Jones.