Political reform, not aid, is key to Honduras’ growth, argues Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute.
“In Honduras, as in most countries, it is not aid, or internationally-agreed targets, or bright experts turning up from the west with good ideas about trade policy, that are going to make a difference for the poor. It’s politics, stupid,” Glennie writes in the “Poverty Matters” blog published in the Guardian.
Ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was uplifting living conditions when a coup overthrew his administration. Two years into his presidency, Zelaya reduced poverty to 60.2 percent. Economic growth picked up in the first three years of his adminisration with an average growth of 5.6 percent, faster than the previous regime, Glennie explains.
But since the coup, growth has stalled, with the economy shrinking by more than 3 percent last year, Glennie notes.
“In today’s Honduras, development is a civil rights issue. To protest about wages or labour rights, education or health standards, is to be at risk of reprisal,” he says. “Meanwhile, the energy that civil society and NGOs should be [putting] into reducing poverty is spent on fighting simply to have a voice and to stave off reprisal and recrimination.”
What should be done, then, to assist Honduras?
Glennie recommends an open debate where the poorest can voice their opinions about the future of the country.
“The challenge for those of us living outside Honduras is to discover [what] we can do to help the country develop and reduce poverty. There are a number of answers, but, please, don’t say more aid,” he concludes.