United Nations agencies have worked on a socio-economic response to the impact of the COVID-19 supporting the Government in specific recovery measures. For example, WFP in alliance with ILO has worked on a microeconomics study with a livelihood approach to identify vulnerable populations outside of the current social protection system, as well as trying to understand how COVID-19 has affected the FSN of women differently than men etc. Conversations with the World Bank have been held to advocate jointly for an expansion of social protection measures.
FAO and WFP have been working together on generating data in collaboration with the Government’s technical unit for Food Security and Nutrition Technical Unit (known as UTSAN) to strengthen the Food and Nutrition Security Monitoring and Evaluation Information System (SISESAN), and are committed to creating an integrated platform with the exchange of information and knowledge.
Both UN agencies are monitoring the FSN situation across the country particularly to identify effects of the current health crisis. WFP is working on generating evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on food consumption habits with regards to processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages, bearing in mind the country’s overweight and obesity challenges. The studies are part of an effort to address the lack of evidence to better inform the design of policy and programmes in the country. FAO is also carrying out rapid evaluations with the National Institute of Statistics on the impact of COVID-19 on FSN.
According to Wendy Carranza Rios, National Officer for Food and Nutrition Security Policy with FAO, attention to priority groups must be coordinated, effective and relevant to the needs of the population. “FAO has worked to strengthen the decentralized management of FSN in the territories, specifically in the process of training community volunteers, in the implementation of the Integrated Care for Children in the Community strategy and the promotion of adequate food.”
Challenges and lessons learned
“The challenges in Honduras are two-fold: an external one, in terms of a weak institutional architecture (and efficiency) and internal one, in terms of limited incentives for agencies, funds and programmes to break their traditional institutional approach,” summarizes Alice Shackelford. “The 2030 agenda and the response to COVID-19 provides a very strong opportunity to look at an integrated approach to sustainable development and humanitarian response."
According to PAHO’s Evelyne Degraff, there is still a need to define the mechanisms of coordination and collaboration between UN Agencies, and to elaborate a UN Network plan. “While COVID-19 has been an opportunity for PAHO to work with UN agencies on other issues, mostly related to the pandemic response and to sexual reproductive health, there is a need to reinforce collaboration on nutrition,” says Evelyne. She suggests that one option would be to create a thematic group on nutrition that meets periodically to share information and coordinate actions. This suggestion was supported by Wendy Carranza Rios from FAO, who added that there was a need in Honduras to establish a National Nutrition Authority to lead and coordinate advocacy, prevention and nutritional care to tackle malnutrition in all its forms.
“Nutrition is very young as a subject in this country – we have to keep pushing for funding for the whole FSN strategy and national plans,” claims David Nataren from WFP. COVID-19 has disrupted some of the momentum that UNN actors were making, in terms of engaging nutrition champions – the Network was engaged in conversations with the First Lady’s office, who is very interested in social policy. It was also just days away from presenting a study on the cost of the double burden in Honduras before lockdown occurred. But there is a growing awareness in Government of the need to involve all sectors in the fight against malnutrition – and the cost of inaction on the economy, particularly in recovery during the post-COVID-19 era.
“The role of the UN is focused on strengthening the capacity of institutions to provide response and service provisions, as well as strengthening internal UN mechanisms of coordination and joint programming,” summarizes Alice Shackelford. “This will be part of the new United Nations Cooperation Framework for Sustainable Development (2022-2026), which is being worked upon right now.”
The UN Network has a key part to play in these next steps and can help country actors connect the dots to fortify the efforts underway.
 Encuesta Permanente de Hogares de Propósitos Múltiples en Honduras (2017) Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (INE)
 Microeconomic and Livelihood Recovery Study: ILO and WFP
Photo 1 @FAO / FAO
Photo 2 @UNDP Honduras/José Mario Lagos
Photo 3 @UNHCR Honduras
Photo 4 @UNDP Honduras/José Mario Lagos