Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 15:24:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: POPULATION-CARIBBEAN: Little to Show After Years of Talk
/** reg.carib: 277.0 **/
** Topic: IPS: POPULATION-CARIBBEAN: Little to Show After Years of Talk **
** Written 9:11 PM Sep 10, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:reg.carib **
Successive studies have shown that factors including low economic growth, macroeconomic instability, deficiencies in the labour market resulting in limited job growth, low productivity and low wages in the informal sector, and a decline in the quality of social services are major contributors to growing poverty in the region.
Dr Edward Greene, consultant on Public Policy and Health for the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) urges a fresh perspective on the problem in a paper delivered at consultations here last week hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
For example, he suggests that
the gender-poverty relationship
remains inconclusive though most interpretations of the current
information show that
a gender-poverty gap favours the males.
However, he says,
household size, schooling and rural
location are much stronger predictors of poverty than is gender.
Several intervening factors may account for these counter-
intuitive results, he argues.
They include on the one hand, the
comparable levels of educational qualifications in which females are
On the other hand, he adds,
lower rates of female
participation in the labour force or the same level of employment at
lower wages than men, may be contributory factors.
He also observes that male youth with few years of schooling are
less likely than females to be poor while the reverse is likely
with increasing years of education.
Like Duncan, Greene also argues that ethnicity has a role to play in
the entire milieu though
some issues like ethnicity could only be
dealt with in a perfunctory manner due to lack of information.
He however cites the examples of Guyana and Belize where Amerindian groups are at the bottom of the income chain.
In Guyana, he says,
the two primary ethnic groups, Indo and
Afro-Guyanese are almost equally represented among the poor. However,
the Amerindians with 7 percent of the population account for 35
percent of the total incidence of poverty.
In Belize, Greene says,
compared with the Creole; Asians and
whites had the best chance (9 percent) of escaping poverty compared
with Garifuna (2.5 percent) and Mayas (0.28 percent) who are among the
poorest groups in the country.
He says this persists despite the fact that in both countries there are special laws to protect the rights of these indigenous groups.
In both countries the situation is associated with a complex of
issues ranging from the dispersed settlement patterns, the high cost
of administration, their lack of human skills, and the lack of an
effective lobby, he says.
It is an observation also made by Duncan who cites the indigenous populations of Guyana, Suriname, Dominica, St Vincent, Jamaica and Belize that are targeted by a number of programmes.
Nevertheless, it is the case that conditions relative to the
country as a whole have not shown much significant improvement. They
still remain, in relation to national positioning, the poorest of the
The view is substantiated by a 1997 World Bank study which indicated
that as many as 25 percent of the indigenous population of Latin
America and the Caribbean live in
The Caribs of Dominica and the
Black Caribs of St Vincent are
specifically cited by Duncan as groups requiring special mention. The
1995 British Development Division Report on poverty in Dominica
reported that the island's indigenous population lived under the
worst conditions of poverty in the country.
In strife-torn Guyana, Greene observes that
ethnic poverty ... is
exacerbated by the racial tensions between the two dominant groups ..
this situation polarises the efforts for poverty alleviation and
reduces the effectiveness of state programmes that are perceived to be
executed according to racial biases.
He recommends, for Caribbean countries hit by such problems, the establishment of joint commissions with representation from the ethnic groups to identify and recommend policy changes.
He also suggests the application of
programmes which, he argues,
are among the most general
practices that have worked to guarantee employment opportunities and
the distribution of public goods.
NGOs and other community groups, he says,
must play a vital
role in fostering better inter-racial relationships.
Pay special attention to the impact of poverty on the ethnic groups
that are disempowered due to lack of access to opportunities, he
Duncan recommends tackling the problem through programmes of early childhood development.
Without quality integrated child development in indigenous
areas, he says,
social integration for them remains unreal.