Reducing climate vulnerability by building resilient housing in Honduras

By Climate Champions | October 28, 2022

Location & Region:  Honduras, LAC

Partner: Build Change

Implementers: Honduran Red Cross, Build Change

Area and sector: Urban / Infrastructure

 

Central America is at the frontline of climate change impacts, being one of the most vulnerable regions facing greater and more frequent extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tropical depressions and high temperatures.

In November 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota, two powerful categories four and five hurricanes which landed in Honduras, left behind a humanitarian crisis which affected four million people, with 200 people dead and USD $15 million in losses.

Recognizing the urgency for immediate support, Race to Resilience partner Build Change, which leads the Climate Resilient Housing Initiative, and the Honduran Red Cross, came together to develop an ambitious pilot for structural reinforcement and expansion of the houses affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in the Sula Valley of Honduras. The pilot started in the municipalities of Puerto Viejo and Choloma, both among the most vulnerable and affected communities.

In 31 years I had never experienced something like this (…) we lost everything, we managed to save a very few things, the flood came – Irma Mercedes, a resident of Choloma

The pilot seeks to enhance climate adaptation and resilience, acknowledging the fact that every year extreme weather events like flooding are increasing in the municipality. The initiative consists of two main actions:

  1. Retrofit existing one-story homes, which entails strengthening the structure of the building.
  2. Expanding some of the homes to a second story, to create a safe refuge in case of emergency.

Overall improvements and expansion will offer opportunities to enhance living conditions, earn income from rent or a home business, and increase home value. Solar panels and rainwater collection tanks will provide greater autonomy against power outages following severe storms and increasing periods of water scarcity.

The project has been well received by the community, who has perceived the retrofitting and expansion process as an improvement to their existing living conditions with the additional benefit of enhancing their safety to be better prepared to respond to climate disasters. To date, Build Change has been able to reach 550 people through a combination of permanent housing solutions and transitional housing support and is scaling for further impact.

The partnership with the Honduran Red Cross has allowed the project to work directly with the communities, responding to the needs voiced out by them in a culturally sensitive manner, and with their constant engagement in the implementation of the project.

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