Poverty in the Caribbean

Keywords: poverty in the caribbean, poverty in the caribbean causes

Poverty in the Caribbean has been an annoying issue for as long as I can bear in mind. It is a concern that has caused many governments in the Caribbean and world-wide, grief and even resulted in their damage at the polls or demise. In reality it is a very hard issue to overcome or rectify because of its magnitude of triggers both inner and external to this country. To obtain an understanding of the "psychology of poverty" and its own cause and effect "in the Caribbean"; one has to examine the following.

Psychology, the facts? Simply put (based on the publication "UNDERSTANDING Psychology", 1992, pg. 7, 9. ) it "is the analysis of human behaviour and mental operations. It covers anything that people think, feel and do, and further seeks to describe, explain, anticipate and control behavior. "

Poverty; based on the "The Concise Oxford Dictionary' means indigence, want, scarcity, inferiority and poorness. However, I favor to trust Professor Bourne's thoughts and opinions explained in his paper entitled "Poverty and its Alleviation in the Caribbean 2005"; in that poverty is not merely defined as those those who live off less than one dollar each day ($1. 00/day)(as described as the Millennium Development Goal for poverty reduction's concentrate on 2000). But that it is a "pronounced deprivation in wellbeing" "that is usually to be in poverty or even to be poor is to be starving, lack shelter, clothing, to be sick and tired and lack healthcare to be illiterate rather than schooled and further relating to the work to Amartya Sen, that says that, their state of being poor extends beyond income levels, but is also influenced by 'unfreedoms' which folks are put through in terms of tyranny or bad treatment by their state and exclusion from participating in decisions and also being susceptible to financial and natural hazards"


When one looks at the islands of the Caribbean, in terms of these governmental and monetary structure, degrees of education, health care and income levels; all of them are different. With this in mind the word 'poor' might match different categories. Countries including the Bahamas and the U S Virgin Island using their close affiliation to the U. S. and its 'almighty money' may have a higher standard of living and 'poor' in their country might suggest middle income in another. To help expand emphasize their variances; I quote from Professor Bourne's paper (based on the Studies of Living Conditions conducted between 1996 and 2002), that "countries such as Haiti and Suriname whose poverty lines was 65% and 63% were on the high end of the poverty range, while Belize, Dominica and St Kitts were between 30-40% and Anguilla, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Island were between 20-29%, while Barbados got 14% and Jamaica got 20%;" concluding that at that point with time Barbados had the lowest poverty level in the Caribbean.


In discussing this problem, credited to my being Jamaican by delivery and living here all my life; (with few exceptions of travel) and my knowledge of the intricacies of the country and the discovery that there are varied levels of poverty or being poor which exist in this little island. I've chosen to use Jamaica as my example and direct almost all of my discussion making use of this island; for I think that Jamaica is indeed the melting pot of the Caribbean. If one appears widely one can find a local of every Caribbean island living here; just look at our Psychology school! In this course of 21 students, we have Nigerians, (Africa) Guyanese, (SOUTH USA) and Jamaicans. Quite a mixture indeed!

The factors behind poverty in my opinion are assorted and I would like to start with this of

Slavery, (defined as the condition of a slave, which further methods to be considered a helpless victim to or of some dominating affect; relating to "The Oxford Concise Dictionary") continues to be very operative inside our Jamaican society which of the Caribbean today. Although we feature having one of the biggest Reggae singers ever; we've still not totally understood the meaning of Bob Marley's melody which says "EMANCIPATE ON YOUR OWN FROM MENTAL SLAVERY" In my judgment we as a Caribbean people although we've been made free for several years and in Jamaica it has been from 1838; over a hundred and seventy one years ago. Although physically we have been freed, we still have got a kind of mentality that causes us to want 'hand-outs', and the need to be 'considered care of' still exist. (just like when the slaves were on the plantation and viewed with their slave masters because of their total existence). The word independence or the necessity to be independent has still not been cemented in our minds; to be able to create a change in behavior that triggers us to secure a sense of willpower that says that 'I will obtain or achieve any thing I put my brain, heart and skills to. ( according to the elements of time and opportunities')

Unemployment and low income levels. I have to agree with teacher Bourne in his newspaper mentioned above that the governments of the Caribbean including Jamaica; have never been able to set-up an adequate amount of careers for its people; as he claims that unemployment is "between 7 and 20%" which is relatively high. Incidentally in Jamaica it has given climb to the hustler mentality. You have but to visit Down-Town Kingston, especially on a market day, that is over a Saturday and recognizes the quantity of people who hustle for a living daily. Hustling ranges from the investing of respectable goods, to coping in drugs such as ganja, to that of the playing of the now famous 'cash-pot' which contrary to popular belief places food on many a table daily. As for low income levels, for example, you have but to look at the difference in pay of Registered Nurses in Barbados whose basic pay is about $77, 0000 monthly set alongside the same group of nurses in Jamaica who earn $48, 000 per month. This difference one might agree with the fact would have an effect on the individual's ability to save lots of for 'a rainy day', or to make investments, to keep up an acceptable quality lifestyle or to even more one's self academically. Also the inequality of pay scales within confirmed country can affect its peoples' poverty levels. Take for case in Jamaica at this time of globally financial depressive disorder when Nurses and other staff are negotiating for an improved pay level and who are just able to scoop out a meager lifestyle using their meager salaries only to be informed of individuals earning $1. 9 million per month for negotiating services. Go through the gross difference!

Volatility of our overall economy and susceptibility to Natural disasters. I must concur with professor Bourne, when he declares that "the Caribbean overall economy is volatile which volatility is a contributory factor to poverty". He further sates that "economic volatility arises from several sources, which are not automatically operative at the same time. The resources include economical dislocation induced by major adverse changes in international markets for Caribbean exports of goods and services". You have only to go through the problem of the decline in the export our bananas where in fact the Western european and U. S. market segments have now started to transfer 'Chiquita' bananas instead of bananas from the Caribbean. This has impacted negatively on our economies (especially Dominica) in terms of job loss and lack of ventures by the regulating bodies of the countries involved. Professor Bourne also suggests that we are also damaged by the "acute fiscal troubles due to changes in flows of international and international debt". In Jamaica one has only to remember the harsh needs that the International Monetary Account made on us in the past such as gross job cuts and can only pray that the new planned demands might not exactly be as tough. (You can only Pray!) For Natural Disasters, we are quite susceptible for the reason that we are at the mercy of hurricanes and floods. I recall Gilbert as though it was yesterday; when the rooftop of my house was lost. If it were not for the quick activities of the federal government of the day in issuing free zinc which I had been a grateful recipient. I would have remained 'roof-less' until December of that year when the Insurance representative got around to analyzing the injuries and finished up issuing one third of the estimated cost of repairs because he thought that it wasn't that great a harm! To think, I put Insurance! What about those who could not afford insurance because their low income levels? To further examine these hazards' results, just look at what hurricane 'Ivan' performed to Grenada; Ivan basically flattened Grenada in a couple of hours and damaged infrastructures that took years to build up. It literally evolved Grenada's means of existence for long time.

Lack of proper HEALTHCARE and Universities. "Poor" people in the Caribbean may be working but might still continue to be poor. This causes them to be unable to gain access to proper heath health care which might lead to a rise in persistent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and even psychotic ailments such as unhappiness. In Jamaica there is now free health care, but precisely how effective it has been is another matter. Take for case my aunt of 82 years, she's a cataract in her eyes and needs for it to be serviced surgically. She visited the Kingston Community Clinic to in October 2009, of this yr where she acquired an appointment to come back in Dec, 2009; where another visit will get for her to come back some time in 2010 2010! I possibly could not imagine it while i was told. Can you envisage, by enough time December comes, much less 2010 my aunt may be home with the Almighty God! (deceased) As for the ability of poor to access education; it can be taxing, with the ever rising cost of college fees, catalogs and uniforms the low income earners and even those of middle class can just scarcely manage. In Jamaica there may be the PATH program which is of some help the poor in that it helps with institution fees, uniforms etc. ; thus removing some of the financial pressure from the parents.


Based on the definition given above that says that being poor or living poverty will not only rely on low income or the shortage there of, but also on having less proper healthcare, proper infrastructure( such as streets, water), educational facilities, tyranny etc. For me, when one talks about the shortage or unavailability of these facets in the rural areas of the hawaiian islands of the Caribbean, one realizes that individuals who feel that the urban neighborhoods are an improved place will want to migrate to these areas. This is observed in my country Jamaica where the Government offices, best nursing homes and classes are found in both main urban cities that is Kingston and Montego Bay. This migration often result in over-crowding, further resulting in a rise in 'squatter settlements' which leads to a rise of tin the pass on of disease; thus placing a further strain on the healthcare system. This type of migration not only happens with in a country, but can even be seen when the Haitians defy useless at sea to come to Jamaica seeking 'a better life'; thus adding further stress of the Jamaican current economic climate. Although it's not the only reason for the surge in criminal offense and drug abuse this continues to be a contributing factor, as is seen in the go up in the criminal offenses rate in these two cities. Gleam brain drain from the rural areas to the urban areas of a specific country and even between countries of the Caribbean and to countries such as the U. S. and Europe in order to obtain a much better income, thus enhancing or providing for a recognized improved life-style. This brings about the increased loss of valuable resources that in my thoughts and opinions is not easily changed, and if it is changed costs these countries basically an 'arm and a calf' to take action.

One can also verify the effects of having less option of proper healthcare; and in cases like this especially to older people, who either have suprisingly low income gained using their company meager pensions or nothing whatsoever. This makes them vulnerable and simpler to succumb to diseases. For the rest of the populace, unwell health (mental and physical) often results in low production levels and reduces the inner drive or motivation to achieve success, thus increasing the levels of poverty.

The negative effects of international markets on the economies of the Caribbean can be damaging. As was mentioned previously; such as Jamaica our money is linked strongly to that of the U. S. if the U. S. dollar falls, our dollar falls; leading to tremendous losses on the stock market among other investment entities, further leading to loss of careers and the demise of companies especially the small businesses. Also if these international countries 'flavour' change as was also mentioned previously, in terms of the bananas they take in; then there should go the banana business in a down-ward spiral in these countries also.

The inability of your countries to protect ourselves from natural disasters brings about a negative result for the reason that these disasters often eliminate agriculture, (which is the key stay of the majority of these Caribbean islands) infrastructure, (roads, water mains, gullies, electricity) administration properties and private homes. They indeed damage what it has taken years of effort, sacrifice, and persistence to generate. This puts a pressure on economies psychologically, physically, and economically to rebuild every time such an incident occurs.


I believe in the Caribbean, in the same way that all island is unique in nature, so do the average person people and governments of every island have to identify unique ways in resolving this problem of poverty. As seen in the statement on the "Cost of Poverty in the Caribbean" by The International Institute for Sociable Political and Economic Change(IISPEC) and co-sponsored by UNESCO. (March 17-19, 2008). Grenada whose poverty level was 32% in 1998 has executed Safety Net Program - allocation of cash, and founded Food Basket programmes, and St. Lucia has implemented a Poverty Decrease Fund. I also trust their set of initiative programmes that contain been brought up, such as. Concentrate on education & training

- Provide scholarships to encourage more research, Make CDB/CTCS more national in focus

De-politicization of poverty lowering/eradication programs, Needs national consensus

However I'll endeavor to add a few other ideas to both Jamaica and other islands of the Caribbean, Concentrate on education & training, Provide scholarships to encourage more research

- Make Caribbean Development Banking companies a national target, De-politicization of poverty decrease/eradication programmes, i. e. for taking politics agendas out of programmes made to assist the indegent and the need for a countrywide census to be able to learn the people's view on the matters brought forward to resolve the situation of poverty.

In Jamaica, at this time the governing physiques have implemented the road Programme, which facilitates needy (poor) people in a financial way to have the ability to send their children to classes to obtain an education, by means of cash payments.

There is also the provision of 'free' healthcare. In my thoughts and opinions it is a good thought but I do not feel that it can be properly looked after especially in this time around of financial melancholy. If one will take the time to examine the following scenario, one might agree with me on point. Take a healthy young man who doesn't feel that he should work because he's comfortable 'hustling' probably via 'cash-pot'. He gets a girl pregnant and she gets no cost health care to obtain this child; the child goes home, grows, starts going to institution and gets on the Path programme, where society directs this child to classes free of cost. One could claim that is a means of reducing the degrees of both maternal and child deaths by giving free healthcare; or that by supporting the child to visit school might reduce the probability that this child being uneducated might be a part of our crime problem in the foreseeable future. Baring all this in mind I might consent; but I still contend that this might help to promote 'a freeness mentality' that is so prevalent in our society; which we have to stomp out in our society, for us to boost our way of thinking and thus lift ourselves from poverty. To think even in the top industrial countries health care is not totally free, some one must pay for it! I favor that my hard earn tax dollars be utilized to pay for free health care to be available to the elderly, the young (12 years and under), the destitute, and the emotionally and actually challenged; the most vulnerable in our modern culture.

I think protection nets can be put in place where a disaster finance is applied to give hurricane and overflow victims. Also in conditions of providing occupation I believe the provisions of entities like the Heart and soul ACADEMY and 'free key education' are a GOD sent to the indegent. However I feel that the provision of more scholarships should be produced to aid with further tertiary education.

In terms of enhancing career I think that the apprenticeship program should be reimplementation to learn while they work and earn. We're able to also make an effort to re-educate our people in conditions of personal reliance, to think that the soil is good in order to attract an increased involvement in agriculture and along with this to allocate lands to these individuals to allow them to develop and produce more thus providing more jobs.


I conclude that the Caribbean (including Jamaica) has a hard activity in ridding our region of poverty, but not insurmountable! I think that this matter should be fixed with each member state coming together as you. Take for cases at the moment, if one talks about our ultra market shelves, you can see snacks from Trinidad and Tobago. But when Jamaica tried to export our 'patties' to them it was barred. Although the areas of the Caribbean are determined to be apart of the Caribbean Common Market, some state governments have not held up to their end the agreement.

This leads to discontent among member areas and ultimately the loss of careers and the increase in poverty because of the inability to permit free trade in the area.

The expresses in the Caribbean need to realize that individually, compared to the international area are small and relatively insignificant. But joining along and being one at heart set, we could be a push to be reckoned with. To be a people we have to assist the other person in conditions of the transference of education, knowledge and technology to be able to improve each other's economies. Thus providing an improved way of thinking and reasoning which will cause a motivated, established move by the people of this region to rid ourselves of poverty. If not, then to an even that permits a satisfactory standard of living.

As the clich state governments "together we stand, divided we fall" we as people of the Caribbean should try to learn and understand why. To permit this statement to improve their attitude from one of personality and selfishness to 1 of togetherness and fruitfulness that will ultimately improve the standard of life for our people and in time reduce the levels of poverty to be able to maintain a satisfactory quality lifestyle; free from starving tyranny and health problems. What do you think? This is just a wish or dream! I should desire not. WHEN I choose to think that it can be a certainty IF WE WORK HARD AND KEEP FOCUSED!

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