Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Violence as a Key Development Challenge in Agricultural Households in Honduras

Violence in Honduras is alarmingly high, and the country has been included in the top five countries in the world for homicides since at least 1999. Youth bear much of the burden of this violence.

In response to this trend, Drs. Rebecca Williams (University of Florida) and Paige Castellanos (The Pennsylvania State University) of the Feed the Future Innovation for Training and Education (InnovATE) project conducted a mixed-methods study in 2017 that incorporated a multisectoral approach to better understand influences and impacts of youth participation in violence. This work was unique in focus, as it moved away from the urban areas of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to highlight the prevalence of violence in other parts of the country, particularly in areas that are more highly dependent on agriculture.

Drs. Williams and Castellanos discussed the preliminary results of their study at an October event called “Violence is Not Only an Urban Issue: Youth and Gender-Based Violence as a Key Development Challenge in Agricultural Households in Honduras.” Their presentation is included below.

The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods, examining the effects of changing agricultural livelihoods, perception of community and identity, and violence as a means of "perverse" empowerment. It also included direct input from young people who were both experiencing and participating in violence in their homes and in their communities.

In total, 12 organizations participated in interviews to inform the study, which was spread across five communities and included focus groups and peer-to-peer youth interviews. Several themes emerged, including reports of a lack of educational and work opportunities for youth.

In addition, 1,500 surveys were distributed in public schools with 1,200 responses. More than 80 percent of youth — both males and females — reported being victims of violence in the past four months. Respondents viewed community cohesion and education as mitigating factors that could reduce violence, but decreasing agricultural opportunities were seen as a driver to increasing violence. Many said that agriculture is often perceived only as a means of survival. However, given adequate resources, agriculture is seen as a means to increased opportunity.

Following the data-gathering, a meeting was convened with 35 people — representing 21 Honduran government and education organizations as well as NGOs — plus six students who had participated in the study. The group spent two days discussing the study results and possible interventions to fill the identified gaps. Cross-sectoral and cross-organization collaboration were emphasized, and the group expressed a desire to continue collaborating with each other to reach solutions.

After finalizing the current study data, Drs. Williams and Castellanos hope to expand the study. In addition to including more geographical areas, the two would like to examine the relationship between food security and citizen security.

InnovATE works to achieve sustainable food security, reduce poverty, promote rural innovation and stimulate employment by building human and institutional capacity. The program focuses on all aspects of agricultural training and education including: youth, gender and workforce development, at the primary, vocational/technical, university and post-graduate levels.

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