Everything There Is to Know About Hunger in Barbados
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

Photo: Flickr

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles situated left of the North Atlantic belt in the Americas. The country’s poverty levels have been at an all-time high since 2006. A study from 1998 described the poverty line in Barbados as BDS$ 5,503 per capita per year. Approximately 7,000 households existed on income below this threshold, and poverty affected about 13.9 percent of the country’s population at the time.

Poverty in Barbados tends to affect female-headed households at 60 percent, and poverty is concentrated in more urban areas of the country.

In 1997 the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) worked with UNDP officials as well as the government of Barbados to launch a poverty alleviation program aimed at helping people living in poverty in Barbados. The concerns were that the most vulnerable parts of the population were not being helped, that measures put in place were only temporary, and that these measures did not affect the root causes of the problem.

Barbados currently has the lowest poverty rate in the Caribbean region as of 2007, but the rate is still significantly high at 14 percent.

As of 2014, poverty in Barbados continued to increase, and a Country Assessment of Living Conditions (CALC) survey conducted in the same year revealed rising levels of poverty in the country, with a six percent increase of households living below suitable living conditions.

Additionally, as of 2016, Barbados implemented the Strengthening Human and Social Development in Barbados Project 2016 program as a means to properly measure variables that impact the country’s poverty. The program is expected to serve as an interlinkage to the country’s already existing ISEE Bridge Programme, which aids those who are poor and vulnerable by providing Barbadians opportunities for employment and training and decreasing poverty altogether.

It will be interesting to see if Barbados remains the most prosperous nation in the Caribbean region while income is impacted by a weak tourism outlook and planned austerity measures.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Barbados

Barbados is known as a beautiful tourist destination in the Caribbean, but poverty in Barbados is still an issue that is being addressed.

  1. Poverty levels have been experiencing an overall rise since 1996. Household poverty rates increased from 8.7 percent to 15 percent and individual poverty rates increased from 13.9 percent to 19.3 percent.
  2. A Caribbean Development Bank report notes that the conditions of those living below the poverty threshold is favorable compared to other countries in the Caribbean.
  3. Because Barbados is relatively small and still in development, it is susceptible to external economic shocks, meaning that external variables outside of Barbados can have a notable impact on its economy.
  4. Household structure carries a major correlation to household poverty. Poor households often exhibit overcrowding.
  5. About 60 percent of poor households are female headed. Additionally, a gender gap seems to exist in the workforce, with women earning about 0.75 of what men make for similar services, while also experiencing segregation from certain jobs. The ratio of non-earners to earners is also highest in female-headed households.
  6. Overcrowding in poor households has actually declined from 17.0 percent to 11.0 percent, and the unemployment rate in poor households declined from 30.8 percent to 25.9 percent.
  7. Barbados was ranked among the top 50 countries in terms of its human development status. Of note, 99.7 percent of the population is literate.
  8. Last year, Barbados agreed to a $10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that will be used to combat poverty. Some of the goals include funding daycare services and school supplies as well as providing counseling for those seeking jobs.

While poverty in Barbados is still an issue, efforts are underway to change the status quo and improve the lives of future generations.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Flickr

On September 30, the Barbados Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, made a statement at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly highlighting the small Caribbean nation’s quest for a green economy. She told the Assembly that adopting a policy of sustainable development will be a means of survival for Barbados.

A partner with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Barbados has created a National Strategic Plan (NSP), in which one of the goals is “building a green economy, strengthening the physical infrastructure and preserving the environment.”

Set to end in 2025, the plan has already led to progress – by 2012, the Barbados government committed to generating 30 percent of the island’s electricity supply from renewable energy. The NSP also seeks to correct Barbados’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. By 2025, the government hopes to increase Barbados’s renewable energy supply by doubling the use of solar water heaters.

According to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, “The green economy debate recognizes our structural vulnerabilities, offers a model to assist us in further realizing our sustainable development aspirations and creates the institutional platform that would enable us to participate in innovative partnerships in the fight to save our planet, against mounting unsustainable consumption and production patterns.”

However, at the Generaly Assembly, McClean made it clear that there is still work that needs to be done. As a “small island developing state” (SIDS),  debt sustainability and poverty are also important issues that Barbados must address before sustainable development can be achieved. SIDS nations have all made less progress than any other group on the UN Millenium Development Goals. Additionally, the high price of imported fossil fuels affects Barbados’s and other island nations’ financial stability.

To remedy these problems, McClean called for more recognition of and attention to the SIDS in the international community. She advocated for a special meeting specifically concentrated on these island states to discuss debt sustainability, before the Third International Conference in September 2014.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: UNEP, UNEP, UN News Centre
Photo: Loop Barbados