FEATURE: Climate resilience and food security: In conversation with a Honduran community
Angi Murillo, Honduras Coordinator of the Climatic Resilience and Food Security in Central America Project (CREFSCA) and Andrea Rivera, member of the CREFSCA Technical Team, report the findings of community workshops being conducted in the early stages of this CDKN-supported initiative.
Beautiful and picturesque, Salado Barra is a coastal community of approximately 132 inhabitants, situated within the Cuero and Salado Wildlife Refuge on the northern coast of Honduras. It is widely recognised for its designation under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar Convention. Diverse habitats, mangroves and its closeness to the Caribbean Sea help to sustain the community’s principal livelihoods of artisan and subsistence fishing.
Salado Barra is one of ten communities taking part in the Climatic Resilience and Food Security in Central America Project (CREFSCA). Run by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and funded by CDKN, the project is working with 30 pilot communities in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It aims to analyse the vulnerability of the food systems and those who depend on them, and to develop indicators to measure resilience. This will help communities increase their awareness and guide them in future activities.
Researchers from the Atlantic Coast Regional University Centre initially visited Salado Barro to hold consultations with the residents to gather information about its food systems. The aim was to use the information gathered with the Community-Based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL). This is a project-planning tool that helps users design activities to support adaptation to climate variability and change at the community level. In this case, the team are using the tool to understand the resilience of local food systems to climate change.
In focus groups during the workshops, women, fishermen and young people gathered information by applying different participatory techniques such as seasonal calendars, maps showing access to food and Venn diagrams. Women stated that the food always present on their tables was: fish, beans, a lot of green bananas and flour tortillas and that, “on good days,” their food included chicken and some dairy products. They said that visitors loved to order the typical dish of the region, comprising fish, slices of banana, beans and rice and cabbage salad.
The community members preferred to eat chicken, as they got bored of eating fish every day. Therefore they would often sell the fish and use the money to buy other items produced outside of the community. The dairy products and others foods that needed to be refrigerated were eaten less, because the community had no electricity. The children were on holiday from school and therefore also participated in the workshop. They showed great enthusiasm for the activities and made the most of the opportunity to share information about their eating habits. Interestingly, they said that they preferred to drink soda instead of water.
The fishermen expressed concern over changes they have witnessed in the patterns and the duration of the rainy and dry seasons, which were affecting their fishing activities. More than 15 development organisations were already working in the area but only two of them were able to get the whole community to participate. These organisations had an excellent relationship with two groups: the ‘Los Aguilas’ fishing group and a group of women working in tourism, known as ‘Manati’. These groups are implementing projects that directly benefit their livelihoods.
Following the workshop, the team decided to form strategic alliances with these organisations so it could work in a more organised and efficient way with the Salado Barra community in future. Further consultations will be conducted in the nine other communities taking part in the project. The discussions will span agricultural and livestock farming, as well as fishing, livelihoods and it will cover a range of geographical locations (north, center and south) within Honduras. In time, the project team will produce guidelines for community- and national-level decision makers. This will allow officials and development professionals to apply similar processes in other places.
Watch this space for further reports on progress with the CREFSCA project.
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Image: local catch, courtesy Katie Yaeger Rotramel, flickr.com