Sanitation in The Bahamas
The Bahamas is still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which greatly injured two of the countries’ islands in late 2019. However, the residents are facing a bigger challenge involving access to clean water and toilets, which is putting them at great risk of a major public health emergency. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in The Bahamas.

10 Facts About Sanitation in The Bahamas

  1. The Lack of Access to Clean Water: A lack of access to clean water often becomes a public health issue very quickly. A lot of the water in The Bahamas became contaminated with salt water right after the hurricane. Water Mission, a nonprofit organization based in North Carolina, designs, builds and implements safe water and sanitation solutions. After the Dorian hurricane, the organization tried to help sanitation in The Bahamas by implementing a process called fine-filtration, which removes salt from water through reverse osmosis.
  2. Diseases: Each day, around 6,000 children die from waterborne diseases around the world. The Grand Bahama Island experienced flooding after Hurricane Dorian, potentially increasing the transmission of waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera. UNICEF has provided aid by providing WASH services. Additionally, Heart to Heart International has been on the ground in the aftermath of Hurrican Dorian, administering tetanus vaccines to prevent infections from unclean water.
  3. Sewage: The Bahamas has always struggled to bring clean water to its community. The Water and Sewerage Corporation emerged in 1976 to help bring clean water to all islands and received $32 million from the World Bank. By 2014, the corporation had saved over one billion gallons of water through the reduction of water losses in New Providence.
  4. Hospitals and Housing: The Bahamas has 28 health centers, 33 main clinics and 35 satellite clinics plus two private hospitals located in the main inhabited islands. After the Hurricane hit the Islands, the International Medical Corps provided help to The Bahamas by bringing in doctors and nurses, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene specialists and 140 water kits comprising of family filters and hygiene kits.
  5. Economy: With 14 other islands in good shape in the aftermath of Hurrican Dorian, the government encouraged tourists to not cancel their vacation trips. The Minister of Tourism in The Bahamas said in an interview with The New York Times that the only means of aiding those in the north of The Bahamas was to continue tourism in the other 14 islands. This would allow the country to rebuild Abaco and Grand Bahama and help fix sewage and provide clean water. Around 4 million tourists visited The Bahamas in the six months before the hurricane, and only 20 percent of those travelers visited Abaco and Grand Bahama Island. This represented more than half of its gross domestic product.
  6. Health Care: Health Care has been one of the main priorities in The Bahamian governments’ agenda. In fact, it directed 12 percent of its budget to health. Around 47.2 percent of the general population had health insurance, and females were more likely to get insurance (47 percent) than males (45 percent). The primary care package in The Bahamas is medical services, medications and imaging and laboratory services. After the hurricane, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) sent professionals to assist in on-site assessments of health infrastructures and water sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) that had operation rooms flooded with contaminated water.
  7. Urban vs. Rural: Urban areas often bring development, better health care and living conditions. However, despite the fact that The Bahamas has a high percentage of urban areas at 83 percent in comparison to the 16.98 percent of rural areas, it still has limited water development. In fact, the country is not in the top 20 for the Caribbean.
  8. Current Poverty Rate: Sanitation in The Bahamas is always in danger because of the constant threats of new storms passing by the islands. In 2017, before hurricane Dorian, 14.8 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. That percentage grew rather than decreased leading up to 2017.
  9. Population Growth: The Bahamas had a population of 392,225 as of 2020, but has been suffering a decrease since 2007. In that year, the growth percentage was at 1.7 percent, whereas it was at 0.97 percent in 2020. With the increase in population, the National Health System Strategic Plan is aiming to educate communities to ensure optimal health and good quality of life. However, even with numbers, The Bahamas is still a country with limited basic sanitation services.
  10. Menstrual Hygiene Management: After hurricane Dorian, many women and adolescents did not have shelter or access to toilets. This presented a lack of privacy and compromised their ability to manage menstruation hygienically and with dignity. The Women’s Haven, a company distributing organic feminine hygiene products, wants to help Bahamians by switching to a better approach that will help improve their menstrual hygiene.

While Dorian impacted sanitation in The Bahamas in late 2019, the challenges for clean, accessible water continues to affect Bahamians today. With continued investment in tourism and the involvement of relief organizations, The Bahamas should hopefully recover soon.

– Merlina San Nicolás
Photo: Pixabay

Health Care in the Bahamas
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, located near the coast of Florida, is a very popular vacation destination during the summer months. Attracting millions of visitors each year, it is home to some of the most iconic beaches in the world. In fact, the country’s economy thrives mostly on its tourist industry. Lesser known, beyond the country’s beautiful scenery, is its progressive health care system. In recent years, Bahamians have enjoyed improvements to the country’s health care due to the Ministry of Health. Its mission statement is “to ensure that the highest quality of services for health promotion, health protection and health care are accessible to all residents of The Bahamas in order to achieve an optimal level of health.” Here are nine facts about health care in The Bahamas.

9 Facts About Health Care in The Bahamas

  1. NHI Bahamas: In January 2016, the government began a new national health insurance program called NHI Bahamas, with an objective to make it “modern, affordable and accessible.” The government created this in response to 70 percent of the Bahamian population not having health insurance. As a result of this, the average person was paying about $2,300 each year for health services. Enrollment for the new program began in 2017. The program aims to decrease the number of citizens with diseases that a vaccine can easily prevent, such as hepatitis B and tetanus.
  2. Free Health Care: Basic Bahamian health care is free for expectant mothers, children, civil servants and all people age 60 and over.
  3. Full Health Care Benefits: All legal residents of The Bahamas are eligible to receive full health care benefits. There are no limitations based on economic or health status.
  4. NHI Program Coverage Limitations: The NHI program does have some limitations. For example, it does not cover overseas care, pharmacy services or other services provided by specialists. This includes dental health or psychotherapy.
  5. Private Health Insurance: While non-residents can receive health care if necessary, recommendations determine that long-term visitors should purchase private health insurance. This is because the country does not include a national health insurance scheme as a part of its health care system.
  6. Bahamian Health Care Costs: The exact cost for Bahamian health care, beyond the basic level, can vary significantly. A basic inpatient plan for one person can be as low as $54 a month. Meanwhile, the plan with the most benefits can be as expensive as $1,092 a month. The price may also vary with the inclusion of dental plans or maternal care during pregnancy.
  7. Hospitals: There are three government hospitals in The Bahamas: The Princess Margaret Hospital, Grand Bahama Health Service and the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center. The Public Hospitals Authority, one of the highest quality health care systems in the Caribbean area, runs them. Further, two private hospitals, JCI-accredited Doctor’s Hospital and the Lyford Cay are also in The Bahamas. Additionally, there are 55 health centers, 59 satellite clinics and 288 privately-owned institutions across the islands.
  8. Medical Professionals: Highly-trained health care professionals, including doctors and nurses, provide the best quality services. Many of these professionals attain their education abroad, including Europe, the United States and Canada.
  9. Medical Costs: Compared to the United States, the cost of medical procedures is surprisingly low. Even when people receive these procedures in a private hospital, estimates determine the cost to be 30 or even 40 percent less than in a U.S. hospital.

Typically, many view The Bahamas as simply a vacation destination with beautiful beaches. However, it is important to recognize the improvements that the Bahamian health care system has made as well. These improvements will continue to ensure a healthy and more progressive Bahamas.

A. O’Shea
Photo: Flickr

Help the Bahamas
After a record-breaking 185 mph category 5 hurricane ravaged The Bahamas in September 2019, the island is in need of assistance. Efforts to help the most affected are now accepting donations and aid in any way possible. There are many local drives around the nation. There are also many organizations that are receiving monetary donations. Below are five ways to help The Bahamas through organizations that are receiving monetary and material donations.

Five Ways to Help The Bahamas

  1. World Central Kitchen (WCKitchen): Celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés is notable for his relief efforts after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico in 2017. He led kitchens all over the island and brought quality meals to families. In 2018, WCKitchen provided over five million fresh meals to people in need. He and his crew are now in The Bahamas providing the same relief and require as much help as they can receive. WCKitchen is receiving donations online to continue providing meals to the families on the island.
  2. The American Red Cross: The American Red Cross responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year. Although much of the work and donations go to the United States, the well known nonprofit organization has a separate fundraising campaign that will apply directly to the disaster relief for The Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.
  3. The Bahamas Red Cross Society: The Bahamas Red Cross is also receiving donations to enable it to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from Hurricane Dorian. It urges people to send non-perishable goods, baby supplies, cleaning items and bedding.
  4. The Smile Trust: Florida native Valencia Gunder is the executive director of the Smile Trust. Since February 2014, the Smile Trust, or formerly, Make the Homeless Smile, has provided approximately 100,000 meals to people between Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She is now on the ground, helping people in The Bahamas recover from Hurricane Dorian. Valencia Gunder has said that the Bahamian people have a long history and crucial influence with the United States, specifically South Florida. She says that U.S. citizens should view The Bahamas as neighbors and family, and should find it necessary to provide aid to them in their time of need.
  5. The National Association of The Bahamas: The National Association of The Bahamas (NAB) is a nonprofit organization. Volunteers and friends of The Bahamas support it, working to better the communities in The Bahamas. After the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on the northern Islands of The Bahamas, the organization is reaching out to the public for support to help the people affected by this monster hurricane.

Americans should continue to donate essentials to nearby drives. However, there is a need to provide monetary donations to no-profit organizations that have teams on the island preparing for the recovery of living conditions. The organizations mentioned above are only just a few ways to help The Bahamas.

– Francisco Benitez
Photo: Flickr

Hurricane ResilienceHurricane Dorian is the latest in a long series of hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean — impacting the Bahamas the worst. Initial reports from the U.N. estimated that nearly 70,000 people were in need of food, water and shelter in the archipelago and that around 30 people had died as a result of the hurricane.

For the estimated 10 percent of the population of the Bahamas who live below the poverty line, recovering from natural disasters such as this is a particular challenge. As a result, there is a massive need for programs that not only address the short-term impacts of hurricanes but also focus on the importance of long-term hurricane resilience.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), based in Barbados, has pledged to provide $1 million in aid to the Bahamas, with $700,000 in the form of a loan and the remaining $300,000 as a grant. While disaster relief helps improve recovery for local economies and minimize the impact for impoverished communities, there are also other avenues of aid that the CDB could pursue which take the form of mental health programs and debt repayment plans.

Mental Health

As a part of the Stronger Together campaign, in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization, the CDB has also placed an increased focus on addressing the negative mental health impacts of hurricanes — which traditionally get little attention. However, this type of support is key to help uplift those who experience the trauma of losing their homes or worse, their loved ones.

The campaign, launched in July 2019, aims to train 16 new mental health service professionals, ranging from psychologists to social workers to promote resilience in the face of natural disasters. This program could have a major impact on helping people in the Bahamas recover, while also offering a path towards future mental resilience in the event of another damaging hurricane. This is especially valuable for communities living in poverty.

Debt Repayment

High levels of debt are a substantial impediment to the massive discretionary spending needed to successfully recover from a hurricane, as nations are often forced to choose between allocating resources towards serving the immediate needs of their citizens or maintaining their current repayment plans. As such, a debt relief program could prove incredibly beneficial in the Bahamas, as the country had a debt burden of $8.2 billion prior to the events of Hurricane Dorian.

There is already precedent for the CDB to offer debt restructuring opportunities. For instance, following Hurricane Ivan, Grenada was able to re-negotiate its debt repayment plan to cease repayment following a natural disaster. Some have argued that this program should be extended to all nations in the event of a natural disaster.

This would help to reduce an unsustainable reliance on foreign aid, as nations find themselves falling deeper into debt and failing to provide adequate assistance to their own citizens. Not only do such increases in debt leave countries less prepared for another similar natural disaster, but they also limit the amount of aid which governments can extend to the citizens facing the most significant damages as a result of the disasters.


While the recent pledge of $1 million in aid to the Bahamas by the CDB is a useful step in mitigating the impact of Hurricane Dorian, the CDB also has several other methods of improving not only hurricane recovery but also hurricane resilience. With investment in the mental health field, the CDB is working to train mental health services professionals who can provide psychological support to citizens. This could be supplemented by a re-negotiated debt repayment plan for the Bahamas, with many arguing that such a program would reduce the financial burden placed on the Bahamas by the need to take more loans.

Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is an island country located in the Atlantic Ocean. The population totals at just over 400,000 people. The total GDP stands at $11.6 billion, and the country has a market economy. The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americans today and their economy is finance and tourism based. These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas presented below will illustrate the way of life on the islands.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Bahamas

  1. The capital of Nassau is home to almost 70 percent of the total population. Second and third largest cities are Lucaya and Freeport. More than 300,000 people live in these three cities. The majority of the economy is located here, and like any major cities, they contain elite suburbs and impoverished slums.
  2. The majority of revenue coming into this tropical country is through tourism as 60 percent of total GDP comes from this industry. In 2007, tourism provided over two million jobs to Bahamian citizens. Just under 50 percent of the working population is directly employed in tourism and another 20 percent are employed indirectly.
  3. The U.S. provides the country with the majority of its tourism and international trade. Economic state in the Bahamas relies heavily on the economic state of the neighboring country. The financial crisis of 2008 negatively affected the country. The GDP decreased by 2.3 percent.
  4. The cost of living in the Bahamas is 31.75 percent higher than the cost of living in the U.S. This includes the prices of groceries, rent and restaurants. When comparing the gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than $22,000 with the one of the U.S. at $58,207, the poverty level seems much more extreme. The U.S. is encouraging the Bahamas to diversify its market, specifically with agricultural exports to increase their GNI.
  5. The national poverty rate of the Bahamas sits at a little more than 9 percent. The highest rate is around 20 percent in the Other Family Islands, home to 6 percent of the population. The Other Family Islands sit well outside the reach of jobs created by tourism, hospitals and education while the main islands of Nassau and Lucaya, Freeport contain a plethora of resources.
  6. Education has seen considerable growth in the Bahamas in the past 60 years. Almost $5 billion was invested to implement computer labs in public schools and teachers were provided with extensive training in technology. Education is compulsory from the ages of 5 to 16. The government allocates 20 percent of the budget to the public school system. The gross enrollment rate for primary school was over 95 percent in 2016 and the gross enrollment rate of secondary school was a little over 90 percent. These positive changes have contributed to the country’s 96 percent literacy rate.
  7. The infant mortality rate has decreased from over 11 deaths per 1,000 births in 2007 to just over five deaths per 1,000 births in 2017. The government has established the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative to reduce deaths due to lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer. Even though health care is improving, there is still work to be done in the prevention of spreadable diseases. In 2013, close to 500 individuals died from AIDS. This unfortunate number demonstrates the high infection rate of HIV/AIDS within the country. Since 2013, the government has increased education as well as immunization for adults to reduce the spread of diseases such as hepatitis B, yellow fever and influenza. All children enrolled in school are required to be vaccinated and these vaccinations start after the first 28 days of life. They include hepatitis B, meningitis, polio and influenza.
  8. Natural disasters contribute heavily to economic hardship and living conditions in the Bahamas due to poor infrastructure. The Bahamas sustained $3 billion worth of storm damage from the years 1950 to 2014. Hurricane Frances that wreaked havoc on the Grand Bahamas island in 2004 caused a 14 percent drop in the country’s GDP. The last hurricane to hit the island country was hurricane Irma that tore through the Caribbean killing 24 people in 2017. It was reported that Irma matched the financial blow of hurricane Matthew that cost the country $600 million in damages.
  9. Most endangered categories are children, single mothers, the elderly and the homeless. The Great Commissions Ministry is working to address the homeless and hunger within the Bahamas. They offer services such as daily food packages, job assistance, housing assistance, a drug abuse program and emergency housing for those who lack the basic necessities needed to survive. Hand for Hunger is also working hard to end hunger in the Bahamas by striving towards their goal of making sure every individual in the Bahamas has three nutritious meal every day. They do this by collecting donated food that would initially go to waste from grocery stores and restaurants and putting in front of those who need it most.
  10. There is little to no fresh water resources in the Bahamas since there are no freshwater rivers or streams available. The primary source of drinking water comes from groundwater which must be desalinated. The Carribean Development Bank and Government of the Commonwealth have launched a project to improve the water supply. The project aims to improve the infrastructure of potable water to 3,400 households.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in the Bahamas show the development of this island nation that has become one of the richest countries in the Americans, mainly due to its location and tourism. They also indicate fields where improvement is needed, such as prevention of spreadable diseases and freshwater resources.

Natasha Eckelbarger
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in the Bahamas

Upon mention of its name, this Caribbean nation evokes thoughts of picturesque sandy beaches with luxury resorts lining the coast. These images are not inaccurate, however they fail to capture the full scope of life in the Bahamas.

Consider that the Bahamian government has set the poverty line at $4,247 of yearly family income. This number places 13 percent of Bahamians in the category of “poor.” The reality of this situation is that even those who aren’t below the poverty line face harsh living conditions, as the cost of living continues to rise. Minimum wage in the Bahamas amounts to $210 per week, or $10,920 per year, which is still not enough for most Bahamians to support themselves and their families.

So, what are the causes of poverty in the Bahamas? What conditions in the Bahamas are preventing the growth of a strong working middle class?

One answer to these questions is tourism. Already, 49 percent of the country’s citizens are employed by the tourism industry. However, the critical flaw in this system is that a majority of the jobs available to young Bahamians within the tourism industry are unskilled labor. These jobs, for the most part, pay minimum wage and don’t provide young Bahamians with the opportunity to generate significant savings.

Lack of livable wages consequently results in many Bahamians facing household food shortages. As a response to this issue, in 2008, a group of Bahamian students joined together to create Hands for Hunger, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in the Bahamas. This group looks to communities within the Bahamas and asks them to contribute their efforts towards feeding the hungry. Hands for Hunger works with local restaurants, farms, hotels and anyone else capable of lending a helping hand by donating food or resources. To date, Hands for Hunger has facilitated the donation of one million pounds of fresh food to Bahamians in need.

Looking even deeper, poverty in the Bahamas is also affected by the educational system. Underfunded school systems perpetuate a system of education which lags greatly behind the rest of the developed world. The national exam system used to evaluate Bahamian secondary school students is known as the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). With students receiving a disappointing average grade of D on from the BGCSE’s introduction in 1993, the Bahamian education system is producing young adults who cannot become employed due to a system that has failed them. Access to proper education is a vital necessity for the growth of a strong generation of young leaders.

Due to multiple factors which can be seen as causes of poverty in the Bahamas,the island nation’s people are looking to the international community for support now more than ever.

Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in the Bahamas
The Bahamas is a chain of islands located in the northern Atlantic Ocean with great historical significance. The islands first became a British colony in 1783, slightly over a century after British settlement of the islands began. The Bahamas gained its independence in the late 20th century. Since that time, the Bahamas has thrived thanks to a few very fruitful industries such as tourism. The nearly 330,000 people who populate the Bahamas are ruled by a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

One blemish on this nation’s record is its substandard record on human rights, particularly in the areas of immigrants and prison and detention center conditions.

The 2015 United States Department of State’s report on human rights in the Bahamas concluded that several different types of human rights problems do in fact exist.

The report states that poor treatment of irregular migrants exacerbated by issues in processing them is an issue needing attention. Haitian immigrants to the region, for example, have been detained by Bahamian authorities and kept in custody until proper arrangements were made for them to exit the country or legally stay.

The Bahamian and Haitian governments have taken measures to alleviate the problem, but their solution has brought its own problems with it. The Bahamian government required that non-Bahamian citizens must carry legal documents with them beginning in the fall of 2014. However, outcry poured in from certain international organizations that enforcement of this law was applied unfairly to those of Haitian descent, along with several other complaints. Perhaps the most disturbing accusation of the abuse of human rights in the Bahamas came in the form of reports claiming that “immigration officials physically abused persons as they were being detained and that officials solicited and accepted bribes to avoid detention or secure release,” according to the State Department’s report.

To make matters even worse, the places where these people are being held is substandard. Prison and detention centers did not meet international standards, and overcrowding is a major issue at the government’s only prison.

This data suggests that human rights in the Bahamas are not as well protected as they need to be. In the future, more work must be done by the local and international communities to ensure the better enforcement of human rights in the Bahamas.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Google

Bahamas Poverty Rate
The Bahamas is known for its natural beauty which attracts visitors from all over the world. Despite its vibrant tourism industry, this small tropical island faces a persistent battle against poverty. There are many important causes, implications and possible solutions to the economic difficulties faced by Bahamians. Here are some interesting facts about the Bahamas’ poverty rate:

  1. As of 2017, 14.8 percent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Not only is this higher than the average global poverty rate, but the number of people living in poverty continues to increase. Currently, it has grown by two percent since 2014.
  2. Immigration has a great impact on the Bahamas’ poverty rate. In fact, the majority of impoverished citizens are actually from Haiti. As of 2015, Haitians comprised about 7.48 percent of the population of the Bahamas, with 37.69 percent of these immigrants living in poverty. This statistic is primarily due to economic turmoil in Haiti, which forces many citizens to seek new opportunities in the Bahamas. This turmoil has created a higher demand for jobs and increased the amount of money the Bahamian government spends on preventing illegal immigration.
  3. The Bahamas’ poverty rate is mainly attributed to the country’s high level of unemployment. Currently, a shocking 14.4 percent of its citizens are unemployed, which is significantly greater than the 4.3 percent unemployment rate in the United States.
  4. This high rate of unemployment and subsequent poverty is often attributed to a lack of economic diversity in the Bahamas. Sixty percent of the country’s GDP stems from tourism, an industry that has weakened over recent years due to political turmoil, economic instability and high crime rates in the region.
  5. Another factor contributing to the Bahamas’ poverty rate is climate change. As weather patterns become more turbulent in the Bahamas, natural disasters continue to create a considerable economic strain on the country. This increase in harsh weather leaves citizens without property and resources. Combined with poor infrastructure, the growing intensity of flooding and tropical storms has forced the government to raise spending on disaster relief.

Despite these significant economic strains, strategic government planning and aid from foreign countries have the chance to positively impact the Bahamas’ poverty rate. In fact, in July 2017, the non-profit Organization for Responsible Governance created “Vision 2040,” a new plan for national development in the country.

In a similar fashion to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, this plan urges the government to address issues such as poor strategic planning, lack of financial accountability and country’s one-sector economy.

Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

The Bahamas isn’t just full of vacationers lounging in the sun or carefree islanders living a life of luxury. The country known for sandy beaches and tropical excursions can’t escape the universal problem of hunger. Trying to understand persistent hunger the Bahamas is complicated.

More than 20,000 Bahamians are undernourished, meaning they don’t eat enough to maintain their health and stave off hunger. What follows is an explanation of the various factors contributing to the country’s food insecurity and what’s being done about it.

Here are four things to know about hunger in the Bahamas:

  1. The country’s climate and geography are largely to blame. Only around 1.5 percent of the land is suitable for agriculture. The country consists of several islands made mostly of limestone rock, which, unlike other types of bedrock, does not form soil when it weathers. The soil that does exist is of little agricultural value and requires expensive machines to prepare for farming.Fertilizers further prepare the land for crops, and pesticides, fungicides and other materials must be imported to maximize yields. Adding destructive natural disasters and a harsh climate to the mix makes the farming outlook worse. Around 3 percent of Bahamian workers make their living through agriculture, and the farming industry contributes around 2 percent of the country’s total GDP.
  2. Rising food prices make hunger worse. To compensate for the Bahamas’ lack of agricultural resources, it imports more than a billion dollars worth of food, a third of the country’s $3 billion trade deficit. The imported food is sometimes processed and often unhealthy, but the there is little choice. Food prices in the Bahamas fluctuate based on conditions in exporting countries.A study from the University of The Bahamas found that prices of essential food items, like sugar, grits and cheese, have substantially increased since 2014, in one case by as much as 282 percent. Without money to pay for food, thousands of Bahamians eat less and go hungry. The money that is spent on imported food isn’t staying in the country. Most of the revenue goes to foreign sellers, leaving the Bahamas in a cycle of food dependency, aggravated by a lack of funds to support Bahamian farmers and agribusiness.
  3. High unemployment contributes to food insecurity. The unemployment rate is 14 percent, and among youth it is around 30 percent. Lacking sufficient incomes makes Bahamians vulnerable to food insecurity, as does living in poverty. One in eight Bahamians is impoverished, causing families to make sacrifices as far as what, if anything, goes on the dinner table.
  4. There is hope. Despite large-scale hunger in the Bahamas, the number of people without access to food is falling. The undernourishment rate is 5.6 percent, far lower than in other Caribbean nations. The archipelago is on its way to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating hunger. World leaders have vowed to take on the eight goals as a way to eradicate extreme poverty and improve the lives of millions, if not billions.

To address hunger in the Bahamas, nonprofits are helping bridge the gap from shelf to stomach. One organization, Hands for Hunger, collects edible food from restaurants, stores, hotels and more to give to people who need it. Since 2008, the group has reallocated more than one million pounds of surplus food.

Bahamians are learning that investing in domestic farmers moves the country closer to food security. Supporting local agricultural workers through grants, easier land acquisition and small-business initiatives are all ways to give Bahamian farmers a better chance against international competition.

Experts have determined more efficient ways of farming on little land and poor soil. Hydroponics, for example, is a method of growing crops that requires no soil and less water than traditional methods. Companies that provide hydroponic systems are already serving the Bahamas. Another soilless option, aquaponics systems, are set up next to fisheries to grow vegetables. Aquaponics would help reduce the country’s trade deficit, as well help produce fish for a country that loves seafood.

Inefficient agricultural land and dependency on exporting nations constrain the Bahamas. But despite that, scientists, leaders and nonprofits are determined to eliminate hunger in the Bahamas.

Kristen Reesor

Photo: Flickr

The Organization of American States (OAS) in the Bahamas is a catalyst for the country’s development and offers many programs and activities that contribute to poverty reduction in the country.

The OAS has specifically focused on preserving the heritage of the Bahamas through the revitalization of the downtown area of capital Nassau and preserving the country’s historic sites while promoting local artisanship.

The organization is also focused on security for the Bahamas and facilitated strengthening the capacity of law enforcement and prosecutors in the Bahamas as well as the Caribbean. Security has always been a very important mandate for the organization and important to the role that the OAS plays in poverty reduction in the Bahamas.

The OAS has specifically worked along with the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of education, science and technology to offer fellowships and scholarships while empowering Bahamians and reducing poverty.

As of recently, the OAS has been working on partnering with the University of the Bahamas to reduce poverty through education, while expanding its role in poverty reduction in the Bahamas and the country’s further development.

The OAS has been very vocal about the low level of Bahamian participation in the scholarship opportunities by Bahamians. In 2013 alone, many scholarships were made available that Bahamians were not made aware of or did not participate. These scholarships give Bahamians access to financing and promote the organization’s role in poverty reduction in the Bahamas.

Jerome Fitzgerald, the minister of education, science and technology stated, “We have been given a world-class education. We, therefore, are mandated and required as leaders in education and policymakers to ensure that we afford all of our citizens the same opportunities for success.”The

The OAS promotes education as the key to poverty reduction in the Bahamas. Through organizations like this, poverty reduction in the Bahamas is hopeful.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr