Photos: La Prensa, Honduras
La Prensa reported the results of an interesting public opinion poll regarding the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
A PRS plan is designed to be a long range integrated, sustainable plan developed by a country to reduce poverty with the participation of the stakeholders and the World Bank International Monetary Fund. You can read more about PRS, along with Honduras' 15-year plan, and reviews of its implementation at the IMF website, although the most current reviews have not been posted.
Incidentally, Honduras has come under much criticism lately and is facing the possibility of losing aid because they have accomplished little in the six years since the plan was approved in 2001.
Before I give you the results of the poll, how would you answer this question?:
What do you think is the principal factor that has dragged Honduras into poverty?
- Lack of education?
- Lack of jobs?
- Birth rate?
- Something else?
Here is what the online poll showed that Hondurans think, along with explanatory comments by La Prensa in parenthesis:
What do you think is the principal factor that has dragged us into poverty:
63.9% - Corruption
18.8% - Deficient education
10.1% - Unemployment/Lack of jobs
2.4% - Crime/insecurity
2.9% - Other
1.9% - Don't know, or no response
(The lower socioeconomic level respondents were most likely to blame corruption. The number one selection of 'corruption' also coincided with a recent CID-Gallup poll.)
What do you think is the easiest goal for Honduras to achieve:
50.0% - Reduce illiteracy(Approximately one out of every six people over 15 years of age doesn't know how to read or write. Among rural populations, the illiteracy rate is 26.4%.)
26.9% - Improve the road system
5.3% - Eliminate hunger
3.8% - Reduce the number of HIV infected people
1.9% - Reduce overcrowding
1.0% - Reduce infant mortality
5.3% - Don't know or no response
Do you believe that the PRS funds are destined for the appropriate places to reduce poverty:
65.1% - Definitely not(The higher the socioeconomic level of the respondent, the more likely they were to answer "definitely not.")
11.1% - Probably not
11.1% - Probably yes
11.1% - Definitely yes
1.6% - Don't know or no response
Do you know what is the strategy for reducing poverty:
69.2% - NoDo you believe that Honduras will stop being poor one day:
30.3% - Yes
0.5% - Don't know or no response
61.1% - Definitely no(Respondents between 41 and 50 years of age were most likely to believe that Honduras will not stop being poor. According to the Institute of Statistics, 62.1% of Honduran homes are in poverty, meaning their income is less than the cost of the basic food basket.)
21.2% - Probably yes
10.1% - Probably no
7.2% - Definitely yes
0.5% - Don't know or no response
What do I think? I'm with the majority of the Hondurans who were polled. I believe that 99% of everything wrong in Honduras is either a result of corruption or could be improved if it weren't for corruption. I'm afraid I'm also with the 71% who don't believe that Honduras will ever rise out of poverty. I think the corrupt are just too greedy and powerful to let that happen. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but lets see where we stand in another six years. I'm betting it will be pretty much where we are right now.
In a related article, La Prensa reported that for 2007, debt forgiveness has reached U.S. $184 million. Much of the available funds in the last years have been spent on current governmental budgets and salaries, instead of being directed toward reducing poverty. "To some, PRS is a failure, because poverty is as robust as ever at 66%, although the government assures us that it has been reduced by 6 points."
Mauricio Burdeth, coordinator of the Foro Social de la Deuda Externa de Honduras, Fosdeh, said, "From our perspective, there is not the slightest chance that poverty has been reduced." He claimed that there was manipulation of the statistics. "It is an official lie and all of the poor people know it."
Revistazo reported that a Swiss study showed that the breach between rich and poor has increased and that $2 of every $3 of the condoned funds went to fulfill the campaign promises of President Zelaya.
Every year I read of hundreds of millions of dollars given to or loaned to or forgiven of Honduras. That isn't even counting the untold millions of dollars provided by untold thousands of foreign organizations who come here to build houses, bridges, schools, orphanages, sewer systems, and water systems, to provide medical care, food, clothes, and schooling, etc., etc., etc.
Until the government, and the corruptos in particular, are held accountable for the loss, theft, and misuse of these funds, poverty will never change in this country.
In my humble opinion.
So, how did you answer the question?