Hunger in BarbadosThe population of Barbados is approximately 290,000. While hunger rates have drastically fallen within the last two decades, a new problem emerges—childhood obesity. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional threats to both of these issues in the scarcity of healthy options or food altogether. In addition, the decreases in GDP indicate the economic consequences of lost tourism revenue. Here are five facts covering the state of hunger in Barbados as they recover from the impact of coronavirus.

5 Facts About Hunger in Barbados

  1. Pervasiveness: In 2004, roughly one in 16 Barbadians’ food intake fell below the necessary consumption requirements to meet efficient dietary standards. As of 2017, 3.9% of the population experiences undernourishment, which is a 0.1% increase from the previous year. However, there is a decreasing trend in the percentage of malnourished people in Barbados.
  2. Agriculture: In 2018, 22.6% of Barbados’ merchandise imports were food products, a near 3% increase from the previous year. Barbados is unique compared to other impoverished nations in that most of its land is arable. Large farm complexes tend to dominate the agricultural industry, with sugar production previously leading the economy until the 1950s. As sugar prices decreased, government efforts to diversify food production led to significant increases in local food resources. Modernization programs continue to support fishing and foliage industries.
  3. COVID-19’s Impact: Compared to other impoverished nations and the United States, Barbados handled the pandemic fairly efficiently. Following 35 days with no reported new cases, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley lifted flight restrictions and all curfews were no longer in effect beginning July 1. However, a joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projected that COVID-19 could push 83.4 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into extreme poverty. Fortunately, Barbados’ competency in pandemic response resulted in the coronavirus posing no significant additional threat to food security. In the Eastern Caribbean, over 40% of GDP and 25% of private-sector employment comes from tourism. With the pandemic under control, Barbados is likely to recover from the months-long travel standstill.
  4. Negative Impacts: While hunger in Barbados rapidly decreased in the last few decades, a new problem emerged: childhood obesity. A 2012 World Health Organization survey found that 31.5% of school children were overweight and 14.4% were obese. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Weir is taking the lead in finding effective solutions against childhood obesity. This includes increasing access to nutritious foods and cooperating with fast-food businesses to help find solutions. The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (B-CHOPP) plans to take “a broader and more systemic approach.” B-CHOPP is looking at disparities in access to healthy food. The plan promoted five strategic actions, including promoting healthy school initiatives and physical activity.
  5. Progress: Zero Hunger is the second goal in the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). In Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, UNDP is currently working on multiple projects. This includes transforming food and agriculture while actively combatting climate change. According to the United Nations, the last 20 years have shown considerable strides in increasing food security. This is due to economic progress and agricultural productivity. A 2019 FAO report reveals that the objective of the U.N.’s sustainability programs empowers small farmers and family farms to increase food production and productivity. This sustainability model also plays into using limited resources for effective aquaponics. In addition, a 2017 FAO report found that the test facilities were “fully operational and… actively producing fish and vegetables for sale.” While hunger is significantly lower than before, local and international organizations continue to fight hunger in Barbados.

From the ongoing success of the UNDP, FAO and other local and international associations, Barbados continues to address food insecurity and promoting nutrition to its citizens. Yet, the emphasis on local programs that simultaneously combat global and local issues, like climate change, demonstrates the workings of a multi-pronged approach to combat hunger.

Francesca Gaynor
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in barbados
With beautifully clear water, palm trees and blue skies, Barbados is a popular destination for vacationers, with 2.4 million people traveling to the island annually. However, outside of luxury resorts and beaches, about 18% of the native population lives in poverty. Additionally, many experience homelessness in Barbados.

Stigma Regarding Homelessness in Barbados

Vacations and other citizens routinely ostracize homeless Barbadians. Kilvin Cox, a 61-year-old homeless man in Barbados, said, “I have realized society, they can’t do it with me. They don’t show me empathy. I am a living person; I am a quiet man and a lively man; I’m an easygoing man.” Cox says that sometimes when he asks for money at stop signs, doing whatever he can to survive, people yell at him through their car windows because they think he intends to rob them.

Paradoxically, it is often this stigma towards homeless individuals in Barbados that prevents upward mobility. An assessment of the living conditions in Barbados in 2010 reveals that the social ostracization of “vulnerable groups” including homeless people leads to their subsequent exclusion from education, health and other services. This is a vicious cycle that reinforces poverty through the continuation of social and subsequently institutional exclusion.

Causes of Homelessness

The problem of homelessness in Barbados is largely due to the unemployment rate, which reached 10.33% in 2019. Much of Barbados’ homeless population is unemployed, such as 74-year-old Horace Gibson. Gibson receives a pension but notes, “you know how pension goes. You gotta buy food, you gotta buy everything! So, it’s really about how you want to live. I just take it easy, and take it as it comes. I try to survive. I don’t trouble nobody.”

There is no single social or institutional funnel that ushers individuals into homelessness. The Rotary Club of Barbados reported that homelessness in Barbados can come about in a myriad of ways, including drugs and alcohol, mental instability, poor management of finances and lack of familial support.

Solutions

The Barbados government has acknowledged the country’s poverty rate (reported in 2010 at over 19%) which the struggles of people like Cox and Gibson clearly illustrate. In response, Prime Minister Mia Mottley introduced a comprehensive Barbados Economic and Recovery Transformation (BERT) plan in 2018 with the intention of restoring financial sustainability and increasing economic growth. While the program mentions its goal to “protect vulnerable groups through strengthened social safety nets,” it does not specifically define vulnerable groups or mention homelessness in its plan.

Aside from the absence of policies that address homelessness within the BERT plan, the government more broadly does not offer direct support to aid homeless or vagrant populations. Instead, the Welfare Department often refers these individuals to the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) according to its president Kemar Saffrey. However, despite the government’s apparent reliance on referring those in need to the shelter, it has consistently denied BAEH subvention, submitting proposals annually to no avail.

Although it receives no governmental aid, BAEH is still able to provide programs for the homeless people it serves, including rehabilitation programs, breakfast programs, access to social service agencies, medical services, counseling, educational classes, employment preparation and a shelter specifically for women and children. BAEH’s mission focuses on reintegrating vagrants and homeless people into society through a rehabilitative housing program that enables individuals to enter society in a productive manner. The reported success rate is 78%, but Saffrey warns that the homeless population will continue to increase if the Barbadian government continues to ignore these people, their struggles to survive and the socioeconomic inequalities they represent.

– Kate Ciolkowski-Winters
Photo: Flickr

 

Facts About Life Expectancy in BarbadosLife expectancy is affected by many different factors including, but not limited to, health care, access to food, disease control and sanitation. In Barbados, the high life expectancy rate is a result of the high quality of life that many citizens experience. Below are eight facts about life expectancy in Barbados.

8 Facts About Life Expectancy in Barbados

  1. The average life expectancy in Barbados is approximately 79 years. Life expectancy is higher than for women at 80.1 years compared to 77.6 years for men. Barbados has the highest-ranking life expectancy in the Caribbean.

  2. Dengue fever is a potentially fatal mosquite-borne disease that is endemic in Barbados. Barbados has fought dengue fever for decades, with its most recent outbreak in 2016. In addition to awareness campaigns, the Ministry of Health prioritizes fogging exercises and house-to-house inspections to contain the spread of dengue.

  3. The leading cause of death in Barbados is heart disease. Noncommunicable diseases accounted for 83 percent of all deaths in Barbados in 2016. Diabetes and cancer are the other main causes of death. Health care in Barbados is held to a high standard and easily available to most. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the main provider of secondary care for the population.

  4. The infant mortality rate is 11.3 deaths per 1,000 live births as of 2018. While this is a sharp decline since 1960 when the infant mortality rate stood at 69.6, the rate is higher than the average of 4 deaths per 1,000 live births for high-income countries globally.

  5. Barbados experienced its biggest increase in life expectancy in 1951. In response to The Great Depression, Barbados entered a time of political change that fundamentally transformed the island. The spike in life expectancy continued to increase in pace, as the country developed into an independent nation.

  6. Barbados participated in the U.N. project, “Piloting Climate Change: Adaptation to Protect Human Health.” The Global Environment Facility funded the project. Environmental challenges that affect health include air quality, vector-borne diseases, waste disposal and water scarcity. The objective of the project was to deal with climate-sensitive health risks. Some of the achievements in Barbados were disease prevention, a quick and reliable response system and better storage for rainwater. Only six other countries participated: Bhutan, China, Fiji, Kenya, Jordan and Uzbekistan.

  7. In 2019 there were 100 AIDS-related deaths. Ninety-two percent of the population living with AIDS know their status. According to the Ministry of Health, there have been no babies born with HIV in the past six decades, which is a significant accomplishment.

  8. In 2017, the homicide rate was 10.5 cases per 100,000 population. The most common crimes are drug-related and residential burglaries.

These eight facts about life expectancy in Barbados show that the country is well on its way to being a prospering nation. While there are some challenges, the quality of life in Barbados is on the higher side of the spectrum compared to other Caribbean countries. With a focus on disease control and prevention, as well as continued better access to health care, the life expectancy rate could increase over the next 10 years.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Heart Diseases in the CaribbeanHeart disease and related illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and stroke, are devastating illnesses that according to World Health Organization (WHO) are on the rise. According to the WHO, 17.9 million people die of cardiovascular-related deaths each year and over 75 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. A UN report in 2017 stated that Pacific and Caribbean regions had 14 of the top 25 obese countries in the world. “The Panorama” a report put out by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN cited that malnutrition and obesity heavily affect low-income families, women, indigenous communities, rural communities and people of African Descent. Studies have for decades indicated that people of Afro Caribbean descent are more likely to experience high blood pressure. However, recently heart disease in the Caribbean continues to rise at a fast pace.

Factors Contributing to Heart Disease

There are several risk factors that contribute to heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, reducing salt intake, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco, eating fruits and vegetables and getting physically active consistently can reduce cardiovascular disease. Low-income families are at risk because of a lack of proper health-care. The WHO stated that opportunities for early intervention are often missed because primary health care programs aren’t always available to low-income families. Late detections of cardiovascular diseases more often than not mean early deaths.

The Financial Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Families

Caring for someone with cardiovascular disease can be time and energy-consuming, and without sufficient healthcare, paying for the bills out of pocket heavily impacts families. According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases further contribute to poverty. According to a Harvard study, by 2020 the Global cost of Heart Diseases will rise by 22 percent. The current global cost of cardiovascular diseases is $863 billion. As cardiovascular diseases rise countries must spend money on screening, primary and secondary prevention, hospital care, and lost productivity due to premature deaths.

Jamaica and Barbados Hit by The Risk of Heart Disease

Countries like Barbados and Jamaica demonstrate that heart disease in the Caribbean is becoming more prevalent. In 2015 Barbados reported spending $64 million treating cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and an economic loss of $145 million dollars. Surveys done in schools in Barbados found that 18 percent of students eat fast food more than twice a week and nearly three-quarters of students drink soda more than once a day.

Jamaica is also experiencing an alarming rise in cardiovascular-related diseases. In early 2018, a report found that in 2017 30,000 children in Jamaica between the ages of 10 and 19 had been diagnosed with hypertension. In Trinidad and Tobago, the situation is similar to one out of every four deaths being caused by a noncommunicable disease with heart disease as the leading cause.

The Reason Behind Cardiovascular Disease

The rise in heart disease in the Caribbean over the years is concerning. In Barbados, Sir Trevor Hassell, the President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition believes that an increase in processed foods and a decrease in “locally grown indigenous staples” are to blame. The director of George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill, Barbados, Professor Alafia Samuels said, “We do not eat the way our grandmothers used to eat. In the Caribbean, we have been importing more and more food and some of the main things that we are importing are the things that are leading to some of the challenges.”

Looking to the Future

Despite these harrowing statistics, there is hope. Expansive efforts to tackle cardiovascular disease in the Caribbean have been taken. In 2017 The Healthy Caribbean Coalition enacted the Civil Society Action Plan 2017-2021: Preventing Childhood Obesity in the Caribbean.The plan aims to bring the rising trend of obesity to a complete 360-turn by 2025. By collaborating with governments, civil society organizations, and other international partners, the HCC will tackle childhood obesity on a number of different levels. Some of the HCC’s top priorities are Trade and fiscal policies, nutrition literacy, early childhood nutrition, marketing of healthy and unhealthy foods and beverages to children, school-and-community based interventions, and resource mobilization. Upon providing assistance and education to the citizens and their governments alike, the HCC will positively impact the health conditions of the people in the Caribbean.

 Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr

 

Preventing Global Diseases in Barbados

Clinical trials test whether or not, and how, a specific behavior is altered by a medical treatment, device, etc. They are mainly used to find out if a new treatment has side effects and is safe and effective. Some examples of clinical trials that are conducted include Cancer and HIV/AIDS. The reasons these trials are conducted are reducing the chances of diseases, finding a cure, or finding easier detection techniques. For example, clinical trials are preventing global diseases in Barbados.

Clinical Trials

Usually, only 10 percent of new drugs passed clinical trials before going onto the market, but now it is up to 15 percent, which shows that the qualifications and standards for new medications are higher. The probability of success (POS), within the process of getting a new medication approved, allows researchers to determine whether they want to pursue a drug. This helps with time management and effectiveness of preventing, treating and controlling diseases.

Clinical trials increase the chances of having effective treatments made available to the public and possibly at a lower cost. Typically, approximately 1,000 potential new medicines are tested before making it to the clinical trial. After passing this screening, there are four phases in the process of clinical trials: testing the toxicological effect; testing the safety, effectiveness, and dosage of medications; getting the FDA’s approval; and examining new uses for already approved drugs and treatments. These phases aid in preventing global diseases in Barbados.

Preventing Cancer

As of 2008, there was a combined death rate of 3,208 people in Barbados, due to various cancers including prostate, breast and lung cancer. Preventing global diseases in Barbados, such as prostate cancer among men and breast cancer among women, are a top priority.

Most cancer screening and early detection methods, such as a cervical cytology (PAP), mammograms and bowel (physically or through colonoscopy), are available through primary health care. However, at least 7,000 households live in poverty and possibly lack access to basic health care.

Funding Clinical Trials to Help Prevent Global Diseases

Some challenges faced in forming and maintaining clinical trials, that could help in preventing global diseases in Barbados, are the timeline and funding. A proper, successful clinical trial may take 10 to 15 years to complete. On the other hand, the clinical trial for a respiratory disease may cost approximately $35,300,000.

One possible solution to the issue of funding is to increase the 7.5 percent of Barbados’ gross domestic product (GDP) dedicated to health, or become more active in nonprofits and earn money through awareness and action.

For instance, the Clara Lionel Foundation is a nonprofit organization started by singer Rihanna and has successfully opened the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and installed three cancer detection pieces:  the equinox external beam, the brachytherapy system and the gamma camera CT scan. These three pieces of equipment help analyze and eradication cancer throughout the body.

By investing in Barbados’ GDP and more nonprofits, such as the Clara Lionel Foundation, clinical trials will be able to continue working toward preventing global diseases in Barbados.

– Jessica Ramtahal
Photo: Pixabay


On August 15-17, 2017, a workshop was held to prioritize citizen security and crime reduction throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region. The conference was a start in the process of reducing crime and violence in Barbados, one of the countries that participated in the workshop.

CariSECURE Project

The conference was organized through the Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean Project (CariSECURE). The essential goal of the project is to decrease the incidence of youth crime and violence through policy-making and programming throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to formulate the CariSECURE toolkit, funded fully by the USAID.

The USAID consulted with many regional stakeholders, including 10 delegates from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community Secretariat, in development of reducing crime and violence in Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

What does CariSECURE Do?

The CariSECURE project advances citizen security data management, analysis and monitoring for reduction of crime and violence in Caribbean countries. Through reporting on citizen security patterns, the project converts quantitative data into valuable qualitative information, which then enables public servants the ability to generate data-driven results.

The project relies on the ideas of intervention logic by focusing on problem prevention rather than addressing the problem after it occurs. Identifying the problem, recognizing the risk factors, developing preventive strategies and adopting the preventive strategies are the four essential steps of intervention logic.

Barbados National Task Force for the CariSECURE Project

To help implement the ideas of CariSECURE, Barbados developed a National Task Force to instill administration and coordination of the project to reduce crime and violence in Barbados.

Mr. Stephen O’Malley, Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the OECS described that“the National Task Force will be particularly helpful in driving the management and coordination of the Toolkit” in Barbados and the whole Caribbean.

The National Task Force was officially launched on February 21, 2018 in Bridgetown, Barbados by the Honourable Adriel D. Brathwaite, the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in Barbados. Law-enforcement officials assisted in the launching of the National Task Force, which is the official implementation of CariSECURE in Barbados.

The Barbados National Task Force is composed of senior staff members from various public institutions that deal with crime and violence, which include the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Probation Department, the Courts, the Department of Public Prosecution, Prisons, the Statistical Service, Government Industrial School and the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit.

A Step in the Right Direction

The Honourable Brathwaite described how “reliable data provides an invaluable resource for the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs which have the potential to reduce crime and violence among the youth population.” The CariSECURE project was implemented by the National Task Force to secure an effective means in reducing crime and violence in Barbados.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in BarbadosBarbados was an uninhabited island in the Caribbean until the British settled the island in 1627. Slaves were taken there from Africa to work in the sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but the economy remained largely dependent on sugar, rum and molasses during most of the 20th century.

Barbados has moved from an economy heavily dependent on agriculture to one focused on manufacturing and tourism. Although the economy has shifted, the sugar industry still plays an important role in the economy. Besides sugarcane, farmers also grow cotton, root crops and vegetables.

Water quality in Barbados can be compromised by pollution from agriculture, industry and urban development. The island nation is listed as a water-scarce country because of the depletion of the water reserves during the 20th century. To address this, strict standards were developed for the use of drinking water. Because of the high demand for water on the island coupled with an inadequate supply, the nation built a desalination plant in 2000. Despite this, the water quality in Barbados is still questioned.

The Daily Herald reported in 2016 that there were rumors circulating on social media suggesting that contaminated water was responsible for a string of deaths during the summer of 2016. According to the rumors, there was lead in the newly installed water meters.

The Barbados Water Authority responded with a statement saying that the meters contained no lead. They were made from plastic and brass and manufactured in Germany. The water meters were approved by the German Environmental Agency under the German Drinking Water Ordinance of 2013.

They also stated that the meters were being used in 22 other countries including France, Spain and Ireland. In addition, the water supply is tested twice a year for heavy metals and pesticides. Tests conducted in March 2016 showed that lead levels were under the limits and drinking water was within standards.

The government of Barbados created a policy that designated five Groundwater Protection Zones around the island. This helped protect public supply wells from contamination from bacteria, which is a significant step towards improving water quality in Barbados.

– Fernando Vasquez

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Barbados

Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island that, along with other Caribbean nations, has faced problems with malnourishment. Hunger in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was a major issue between 1990 and 1992 when there were an estimated 8.1 million malnourished citizens in these countries.

However, by 2016, that number decreased to 7.5 million, improving by 7.4 percent. Barbados is also one of the leaders in the Caribbean when it comes to ending malnourishment. Barbados, along with Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met the global hunger target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. Hunger in Barbados is nearly gone; the estimated rate of malnourishment in Barbados is less than 5 percent.

Barbados has taken great steps towards ending hunger; however, Barbados has a new problem: childhood obesity. At the National Committee Monitoring the Rights of the Child, Consultant Pediatrician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Professor Anne St. John gave a speech. She praised Barbados for conquering malnutrition and the illnesses that go along with it, but then said, “now we have gone from under-feeding to overeating, and obesity is a form of malnutrition.”

Dr. St. John also explained that the average Barbadian is now eating 400 more calories a day than they were just 30 years earlier. According to a 2005 study, about 27 percent of students in primary school are obese, which could be a result of these extra calories that mostly come from fat and snacks. Dr. St. John believes that cultural practices and traditions may be a contributing factor to this weight gain in adolescents. She says that some parents claim their child is a picky eater, but some parents take more drastic measures. She has heard stories of parents hitting their children with a belt or ruler if they do not finish their plate or some resort to “shoveling food down the child’s throat”.

Along with the increase in calorie intake, the idea around exercise at a young age has also affected obesity rates. Dr. St. John explained that when children begin choosing classes in the third form, some schools do not have physical education as a requirement, so some students no longer take it. Also, students’ parents are using conditions such as asthma as an excuse to take them out of these classes, when in reality they should stay in, as it helps increase their lung capacity.

Barbados is working on ways to stop this increase in childhood obesity, such as removing mascots from children’s cereal like Tony the Tiger. Children may choose these cereals based on the characters when in reality they are full of sugar and less healthy than alternatives. Educators are also trying to teach children that fruit juices, though they contain fruit in the name, are actually unhealthy based on the added sugars. Like hunger in Barbados, obesity is another issue that Barbadians will be sure to solve.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Help People in BarbadosBarbados, an independent British Commonwealth island nation, is the most flourishing country in the Caribbean area, with free education and accessible healthcare. However, there is still a need to help people in Barbados.

The country has made it a priority to provide efficient and accessible healthcare to include physical, mental, and social help. Because of this, such issues as infant and child mortality rates have decreased, and vaccines have greatly reduced preventable diseases. In addition, according to Commonwealth Health Online, there has been a decline in the AIDS fatality rate as well as an increase in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Unfortunately, Barbados still struggles with the lack innovations in healthcare and patients’ growing expectations, as well as a failure to combat communicable and chronic non-communicable diseases, with HIV/AIDS as the exception. The government hopes to implement some changes, including supplying services in a more cost effective way, developing and integrating delivering services, and fulfilling unmet and vulnerable needs.

Concerning education, the Barbados government pays for schooling and provides compulsory primary school, from age five to eleven; compulsory secondary school, eleven to sixteen; and optional tertiary school, which is post-secondary education. But even with the seemingly sound educational system, some of the high standards have been declining over the past decade, due to negative attitudes from the students, poor academic performances, and the lack of technology to aid in the success of students.

To help people in Barbados regarding education, workshops have been developed to help teachers teach students better. The government has plans to help strengthen the technological infrastructure, to better teacher training, and to recognize teacher’s contributions to the nation-building actions.

While the health and education systems are taking strides to improve, there are still major issues in the country, such as the lack of space and inefficient land use. According to the 2010 National Environment Summary, there is the possible threat of land degradation and droughts. There is also inadequate waste management in Barbados

In addition, there is the insufficient reliability of freshwater. There are between 96-98 percent of homes connected to the public water supply, while the rest just have slight access. The ground water supply is deemed fair, providing disinfected water. But, the development of sewage treatment plants is necessary to finally dispose from homes via septic tanks.

To help people in Barbados dealing with land, drought, and water issues, the charities listed below are active on the island. Donations or volunteer work can directly assist those citizens who are most in need on Barbados.

Verdun House
Future Centre Trust
Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute
Variety the Children’s Charity

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in BarbadosBarbados is a tiny island in the Caribbean. Many visit Barbados to enjoy the island’s lush greenery and warm sun. However, there are still causes of poverty in Barbados that impact the residents deeply. Locals contend with poverty on different scales, with the youth of Barbados struggling to overcome poverty.

Lack of Opportunities
The job market in Barbados is somewhat narrow, constrained by stigma and discrimination. Job seekers may be discriminated against because of their age, gender, migrant status or even their area of residence.

Job seekers are also restricted by their social networks. While those looking for jobs usually look in newspapers, with 50.7 percent seeking out newspaper advertisements, word of mouth plays a large role in landing jobs for youth. Approximately 36.3 percent used word of mouth as a tool for job hunting.

The problem with using word of mouth information is that individuals are limited to seeking jobs only through their social networks. Individuals have to expand their social networks in order to land jobs through word of mouth.

Education
Financial issues prevent youths from accessing education. Unfortunately, without access to quality education, the youth of Barbados are limited in the job market.

On the other end of the spectrum, those who are highly qualified with certifications expect to find high-paying jobs. However, when these high-paying jobs are not available because of the local economy, educated youths become discouraged in their job hunt. Approximately 21 percent of voluntarily unemployed youths did not want to work because of the stark difference between their qualifications and the availability of jobs.

At Home
When youths are unable to find jobs because of limited contacts or poor education, they remain dependents in their households. This means that there are large households with fewer resources for every member in the family.

High fertility rates and large numbers of children mean that households are fairly large already, stretching families’ financial resources. A lack of financial support from children’s fathers means that household revenues are low.

When families’ financial resources are stretched, youths are not able to economically access the education or social networks they need. This perpetuates the cycle of economic instability and families continue to face poverty.

A Solution?
In 2012, the government of Barbados established a poverty intervention scheme, titled the Implementation Stabilisation Enablement and Empowerment Bridge Programme.

Trained social workers led the program for two years, acting as household facilitators and supervisors.

The ultimate goal of the program is to encourage self-reliance and more importantly, self-introspection by families. Families can then make empowering long-term plans based on their individual situations.

The government’s implementation of such a program bodes well for the predominantly socioeconomic causes of poverty in Barbados.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr