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Investing in Communities

Belén Manazapa is a community of 450 people in rural Honduras situated high in the mountains, accessible only via steep dirt roads. Without access to electricity or water, and lacking municipal authorities to advocate on their behalf, the residents of Belén Manazapa struggled to stay healthy and productive.

Through Feed the Future, a USAID program began supporting specialists to train mothers of young children in Belén Manazapa to prepare fortified tortillas and healthy meals using locally-produced and readily available vegetables. Community participation in the program was immediate and promising.

“Today things are different,” says Francisca Gómez, a local health volunteer. Since the project began, 75 percent of children under 2 in Belén Manazapa who were severely undernourished have moved out of the bottom third percentile of weight. “I feel motivated by seeing children improve,” Gómez says.

The community is also making large-scale investments in its future, such as the recent inauguration of an irrigation system, a nutrition training center, and collaborating with USAID to bring electricity to the community. With the new irrigation system and the training they received on good agricultural practices, farmers’ potato yields have increased from 21 quintals of potato per hectare to 40 quintals. “There is an increase of almost 100 percent,” explains Gregorio García, a local producer and president of the community board. Farmers can now plant year-round using the drip irrigation system, and harvest three to four crops per year instead of two.

The families of Belén Manazapa are moving forward to a brighter future and serve as an inspiration for similar communities around western Honduras.

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