Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island known for its rum, spices and all-white beaches. It’s home to celebrities such as “Umbrella” singer Rihanna. With all it has to offer, Barbados is quickly becoming a “must-see” destination for travel aficionados and amateurs alike. The increase in tourism is helping boost the economy and reduce hunger in Barbados.
Many Caribbean islands have made progress in reducing undernourishment and hunger. In fact, the number of undernourished people in the Caribbean declined from 8.1 million in 1990-1992 to 7.5 million in 2014-2016. During that time, the number of undernourished people also declined from 27 percent to 19.8 percent. Along with the other islands, hunger in Barbados has steadily declined.
Barbados has met its global hunger targets set by both the World Food Summit (WFS) in 1996 and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. The WFS set a goal for Latin America and the Caribbean to reduce the total number of people suffering hunger in 2015 by 50 percent. Barbados has met its goal.
In fact, food consumption in Barbados has even exceeded the recommended population food and energy guidelines. The daily number of calories consumed per capita exceeds 3,000, resulting in many health issues such as obesity. Hunger in Barbados may be declining, but now Barbadians are dealing with other food-related health issues.
This is partly due to poor food choices. Barbadians are transitioning away from domestic root crops, tubers, fruits and vegetables and are consuming more fatty foods low in nutrients and high in oils, sweeteners and sodium. Such poor nutritional choices can increase the prevalence of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
However, just because Barbadians have plenty of food now doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The Caribbean islands are prone to unstable and vulnerable food sources due to natural and economic factors. Natural disasters cause extensive damage to property and food sources, undermining any efforts to increase food security and reduce poverty. From 1990-2014, 182 natural disasters occurred in the Caribbean, affecting 11.5 million people and resulting in 241,550 related deaths. The food price crises of 2007 and 2008 then caused drastic hikes in hunger rates as well.
The most effective way to ensure that Barbadians have a constant supply of nutritious food is to improve its governance and public policies for effective integration and implementation of secure and nutritious food sources.
Hunger in Barbados may not be a major issue now, but if Barbadians don’t put the right public policies in place, it may become a problem in the very near future.
– Sarah Hawkins