Policies for sustainable development in the hillside areas of Honduras: a quantitative livelihoods approach


*Corresponding author. Tel.: +506 255 4011; fax: +506 222 6556.
E-mail address:h.jansen@cgiar.org (H. G. P. Jansen).


In this article, we use data for 376 households, 1,066 parcels, and 2,143 plots located in 95 villages in the hillside areas in Honduras to generate information needed by decision makers to assess the needs and opportunities for public investments, and design policies that stimulate natural resource conservation. We develop a quantitative livelihood approach, using factor and cluster analysis to group households based on the use of their main assets. This resulted in seven household categories that pursue similar livelihood strategies. We use a multinomial logit model to show that livelihood strategies are determined by comparative advantages as reflected by a combination of biophysical and socioeconomic variables. While 92% of the rural hillsides population in Honduras lives on US$1.00/capita/day or less, households that follow a livelihood strategy based on basic grain farming are the poorest because they often live in isolated areas with relatively poor agro-ecological and socioeconomic conditions. Opportunities for off-farm work tend to be limited in these areas and household strategies that combine on-farm work with off-farm work earn higher incomes. Per capita incomes can be increased by improving road infrastructure, widening access to land, policies that reduce household size and dependency ratios, and adoption of sustainable land management technologies that restore soil fertility. We used probit models to show that the latter can be promoted by agricultural extension programs and land redistribution. Investments in physical assets should be directed toward households that pursue livelihood strategies based on off-farm employment or coffee production, while agricultural training programs are best focused on livestock producers.