Barbados sits near the end of the Lesser Antilles arc of the Caribbean. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s water source, which supplied the public via ponds, springs and wells in Barbados’ early days. Methods to provide water to the public developed from hauling well water up with buckets to steam-driven pumps to the first electric pump in 1944.

Water quality in Barbados is maintained by its two wastewater treatment plants: the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment System, commissioned in 1982 and the South Coast Sewage Treatment System, commissioned in 2003.

A brackish water reverse osmosis desalination plant in Spring Garden, Saint Michael also contributes to water quality in Barbados. It supplies potable water to 44,000 people.

Barbados now has a cultivated irrigation system. The Golden Ridge Reservoir, the Castle Grant Reservoir and the Spring System provide water to parishes including St. Andrew, St. John, St. Joseph and St. Thomas.

According to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), these very parishes experience long-term reduced water supply.

In 2015 the Caribbean shifted the focus of its strategies and programs from storms and floods to droughts. Climate change and El Nino increased the severity and frequency of drought conditions in the Caribbean. As a result, Barbados is one of the top 10 water-stressed countries.

The drought caused the Barbadian cost of living to rise, increasing the number of kitchen gardens and water demands from local water systems. Agriculture is Barbados’ largest water user, and there are about 120 privately owned wells to contend with this heavy usage.

Consequently, the functionality of water in Barbadian homes changed. In early 2016, the BWA implemented a three-month water ban. The ban prohibits filling and supplying tanks, swimming pools, baths and ponds as well as washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages, out rooms and vehicles. It requires Barbadian domestic tanks be connected to their water supply and sewerage system.

In 2016 the BWA established long-term water management solutions to ameliorate water scarcity. The first goal is the installation of eight water tankers to provide water for residents of St. Joseph, St. Andrew and St. John. The second is rehabilitating a well in St. George to provide an additional 500,000 gallons of water to the Golden Ridge and Castle Grant systems. The third is completing the pumping station at the Lazaretto, St. Michael, pushing desalinated water into the St. Peter’s system for St. Peter and St. Lucy.

The final goal is the commencement of the St. Philip Water Augmentation Project. After conducting hydrogeological investigations in the St. Philip aquifer and constructing new wells, improved water quality in Barbados will be a reality for the people of St. Philip.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr

Nicaragua is nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica, bordering the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Though it has abundant sources of fresh water, they are often difficult to access. According to WaterAid, an organization aimed at providing the world with safe drinking water, water quality in Nicaragua is poor and water is seldom considered safe to drink.

Of a population of nearly 6 million, about 800,000 Nicaraguans lack access to improved water sources. Furthermore, at least 100 children die annually from diseases such as diarrhea, which is largely caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. Much of Nicaragua’s water is unsafe due to contamination from chemicals used in mining and agriculture.

Organizations such as WaterAid have been diligently working to provide Nicaraguans with safe drinking water. One of their methods is teaching locals how to install rope pumps, which are a simplified version of a water pump. WaterAid also teaches locals how to install toilets and rainwater catchment systems and how to drill and properly clean out wells. Their efforts have provided more than 2,000 Nicaraguans with safe drinking water.

An ambitious project, Water for Waslala, seeks to end the water crisis in Waslala, a region in Nicaragua. The nonprofit strives to educate communities in Waslala on how to build their own water systems. The inclusion of Waslalans into the process, and not simply U.S. volunteers, ensures that the systems can remain effective in the long term.

Water for Waslala also teams up with Villanova University to hold semi-annual workshops in Waslala to inform the locals about water system creation. In 2015 and 2016 their efforts have contributed to three water systems being built in Waslala, serving about 819 Waslalans. On top of this, about 2,115 Waslalans were given household filters to ensure safe household drinking water.

Water for Waslala hopes to reach its goal of providing all Waslalans with access to safe drinking water by 2030. In 2016, Water for Waslala joined WaterAid and has since partnered with El Porvenir, a nonprofit organization focused on serving Nicaraguans, to create the Agua Para Waslala Program Alliance.

Tremendous strides have been made towards improving the water quality in Nicaragua. Community collaboration, smart engineering and thoughtful individuals have made it all possible.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Education in St. Lucia, a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean, seeks to prepare students for exciting futures in higher education and the workforce. Educators at 75 primary schools and 24 secondary schools have worked for decades to mobilize their youth to succeed.

In response to poor performance by students in grades one to five on a Minimum Standards Test in 1998, the nation enacted the Education Act of 1999. Supported by parliament members, teachers, and students alike, the act clearly outlines students’ rights and actively contributes to curriculum development.

Furthermore, the Education Act of 1999 rests on the idea that citizens ought to pursue higher education in order to serve the community. As a result—and although students over 16 years old may opt out of attending school under the act—upper secondary institutions boast a 97.2 percent enrollment rate.

In addition to the cultural push for students to attend school as a civic responsibility, perhaps the numerous opportunities for tertiary education compel students to further their studies. The University of the West Indies, which offers online degree programs, frequently awards Rhodes scholarships to residents of St. Lucia and other members of the Commonwealth Caribbean. St. Joseph’s Convent, an all-female secondary school in St. Lucia, also offers scholarships to those with creative skills and potential as leaders.

Sixteen-year-old Kurmysha Harris perfectly exemplifies the standards of education in St. Lucia. A fifth-form student at the St. Joseph’s Convent, she became St. Lucia’s youngest published author when she published her first novel, The Lost Sister, in September 2016.

Harris, who has been writing for most of her life, cites her uncle and parents as major contributors to her book. Sister Rufina, the principal at St. Joseph’s Convent, also reached out upon the book’s release to show support on behalf of the school at large. With such an enthusiastic fan base, Harris has sold more than 600 copies of her novel and has started working on another.

Opportunities for teens like Harris continue to open up far and wide in the country. With governmental attention and widespread support from adults, education in St. Lucia has the nation’s youth bound for success.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Flickr

Education in Grenada
In the southeastern Caribbean, amidst a sea of exotic spices, luscious hills, idyllic waters and pristine sand is the enchanting “Spice Isle.” Grenada’s balmy breezes, scenic treasures and historical troves are easily discoverable from the surface. What is not so apparent are the following 10 facts about education in Grenada:

  1. The nation has a traditional academic pathway for its students: primary, middle, secondary and tertiary. The government requires students to attend school from ages five to 14. According to the latest Grenada Statistical Digest, as of the 2012-2013 school year, there were 105 preschool centers, three special education centers, 56 public primary schools, 19 private primary schools, 21 public secondary schools, three private secondary schools and one training center.
  2. Primary school lasts for six years. At the end of sixth grade students are required to take a secondary school exam. In 2012, Grenada launched the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) to replace its Common Entrance Examination (CEE).
  3. Middle school is the first phase of lower secondary education in Grenada and lasts for three years (grades 7-9). Students may earn a school-leaving certificate at the end of their studies if they are reluctant to pursue advanced studies. In 2012, Grenada achieved universal secondary education and established two new schools during the 2012-2013 year.
  4. The upper secondary school phase lasts for two years. Since Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Examinations Council, students sit for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). Typically, five CSECs are needed for higher levels of study; there are 33 subjects for students to choose from, ranging from arts to sciences. If students obtain this credential (and decide to move forward with their studies) they may take the Caribbean Advanced Placement Exam (CAPE).
  5. With respect to higher education in Grenada, T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) is the primary tertiary provider. It is the result of an eight-institute merger of teaching, vocational training, medical and agricultural institutions. St. George’s University (SGU) is a private school which offers graduate education in medicine and business. Additionally, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus offers distance learning programs for students.
  6. Teachers are commonly trained at TAMCC through UWI’s Teacher Education Program. They receive most of their support from the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT). Workshops, regional initiatives and higher education pathways are available for administrators and principals. A major goal is capacity building, in terms of retaining and recruiting leaders and teachers. Support is also a key objective concerning continuing professional development, clearly defined professional standards, early teacher identification programs and outcome-based curricula reforms.
  7. The 2012-2021 Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) outlines the region’s future educational improvements in its Education Sector Strategy (OESS). Ministries of Education for Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the development of this strategic framework.
  8. New Life Organization Training Center (NEWLO) is the primary vocational entity in Grenada. In recent years, strides have been made to expand Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to other academic levels through the OESS and other government initiatives. For example, the OESS has a provision to improve and expand TVET experiences for students at the primary level. Moreover, one objective is to generate a qualification framework which could allow students to transition easily between vocational and academic credentials. This requires improved linkages with the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) framework.
  9. Last year, the Global Partnership for Education earmarked $2 million for a three-year national education sector improvement program for the OECS, which includes Grenada. The money will be used for improving learning outcomes and teacher education.
  10. The Grenada Statistical Digest presented a projected public expenditure figure for primary and secondary education in 2015-2016: $28 million and $10 million respectively. The system is heavily dependent on public funds.

Although more work is needed to achieve the 2012-2021 OESS goals, progress continues to be made. For example, in July, the 2017 Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA) Conference will be held in Barbados. The event allows educational professionals to discuss governance and reform issues with colleagues from across the region. With added legislative measures, clear goals, strengthened communications and increased investments, education in Grenada is expected to improve.

JG Federman

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

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, consisting of the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and housing a population of 937,700 people. It is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas and the fourth most populous country in the Caribbean.

Jamaica is a small developing country that is seeking to promote human rights, safeguard the rule of law and protect refugees facing persecution. Here are 10 quick facts about Jamaican refugees:

  1. Jamaica has a comprehensive refugee policy that addresses many factors for refugees.
  2. An asylum seeker has to be classified as a political refugee in order to qualify for refugee status in Jamaica.
  3. In 2015, a report released by the United Nations (U.N.) Refugee Agency showed that Jamaicans made 836 applications for asylum.
  4. Jamaicans are seeking asylum in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
  5. Jamaicans are the top asylum seekers in the Caribbean.
  6. There is no proper identity registration currently in place for Jamaican refugees.
  7. Lack of documentation of Jamaican refugees makes it hard for these refugees to have social and economic rights.
  8. Employers are not aware that Jamaican refugees do not need work permits to work in the country, which creates unnecessary unemployment.
  9. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended that asylum-seekers and refugees should be provided with recognized identification cards.
  10. Currently, there are only 12 refugees from other countries in Jamaica.

Most Jamaican refugees are educated at the tertiary level in Jamaica, but have sought asylum for both economic and social opportunities. The loss of the country’s skill base of working professionals has had a tremendously negative impact on the productivity and education in the country, which are important factors that drive the Jamaican economy.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

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 3000, 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, fruit 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

Hurricane Matthew's Impact on Conditions in Haiti
Hurricane Matthew was a devastating category four hurricane sustaining winds of upwards of 140 mph when it first swept through into the Southern peninsula of Haiti on October 3-4, 2016.

Hurricane Matthew was the strongest natural disaster to hit the country in a decade, completely destroying towns and villages. Food reserves and roughly 300 schools have been damaged.

Haiti Liberte, a local news source of Haiti, estimates nearly two feet of rain impacted the area during Hurricane Matthew.

Reuters estimates that the death toll in Haiti is currently at 1,000 and rising, causing the community to create mass graves for their deceased. The death toll is continuing to rise due to the cholera outbreak in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. Thousands are also displaced in the wreckage.

Cholera Rises in Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

According to CNN, Haiti has the highest rates of Cholera worldwide. An estimated 10,000 people have died from the epidemic since 2010 when soldiers from the U.N. accidently brought the disease to the area in the aftermath of an earthquake. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2016 that 880 new cases each week arise out of Haiti.

With cholera projected to increase in the aftermath of Matthew, WHO is sending one million cholera vaccines to the area in hopes of preventing an outbreak of the waterborne disease.

Developmental Struggles to Haitian Economy

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and the Western hemisphere. The New York Times reported that, prior to the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew, Haiti was on the path of developing into a more prosperous country. Cell phone services were widely enabled in the community, and farmers and businesses were improving.

Forests, swamps and other forms of vegetation are now ruined. Roadways are blocked and destroyed and homes are no longer standing as they once were. Only the mounds of stones that were used as the foundation for homes still stand in Jérémie, Haiti.

Minister of commerce and industry in the Grand Anse department Marie Roselore Auborg of Jérémie stated, “Instead of going forward, we have to restart…This storm leveled all of the potentials we had to grow and reboot our economy.”

Widespread Famine

BBC reported from U.N. officials and the Haiti government that widespread famine will impact Haiti in the three to four months to come if the situation is not addressed properly and promptly. Haiti Interim president Jocelerme Privert states that “real famine” following the “apocalyptic destruction” made by Hurricane Matthew could prevail.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is proactively responding to the crisis by investing $120 million in the three months following the hurricane to aid in the restoration of Haitian infrastructure and provide medical and famine relief.

France and the U.S. have pledged to send aid to Haiti. The American Red Cross is providing $6.9 million to aid in relief efforts as well.

Haylee M. Gardner

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Grenada
Although commonly recognized as a vacation destination, Grenada is a country suffering from poverty in its rural regions. Poverty in Grenada has been a struggle for decades due to the island’s small size, vulnerability to natural disasters and lack of skilled laborers within its rural population.

According to the World Bank, 32 percent of Grenada’s 107,000 people are considered poor, and 13 percent are considered extremely poor.

Poverty in Grenada is most visible in rural areas because small, rural communities don’t have access to Grenada’s mainstream economy, which relies heavily on international trade for growth. In rural areas, farming is the most common profession, especially among older individuals. The average age among farmers is 54 for women and 48 for men.

Workers in the agriculture industry are greatly impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes. When storms hit, agriculture-based businesses such as farms and fisheries may suffer severe damages. This vulnerability makes it nearly impossible for agricultural workers to overcome poverty.

Increasing numbers of Grenada’s youth are staying away from the agriculture industry because of its perceived instability. Within Grenadian agricultural industries, wages are so low that “workers can do hardly more than survive,” according to a Grenada Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy document.

While Grenada’s younger populations generally prefer careers in the successful tourism industry, many lack the professional skills they need. Many young people find it difficult to enter an industry other than farming because of illiteracy or lack of access to education.

Unemployment is a major factor contributing to ongoing rural poverty in Grenada. The country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Caribbean.

According to the Rural Poverty Portal, the unemployment rate decreased from 24.4 percent in 2008 to about 15 percent. Since the global financial crisis in 2008, several steps have been taken to alleviate poverty in Grenada.


International Aid Fighting Poverty in Grenada


In 2011, the U.N. rural development agency signed an agreement to “co-finance a $7.5 million project” to aid 12,000 impoverished people in Grenada.

As part of the agreement, the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development loaned $3 million to the six-year Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme. U.N. contributions have created jobs, improved market access and supported rural micro-enterprise projects in 50 Grenadian communities.

In November 2015, the World Bank approved a $15 million loan to aid Grenada. The loan will be used to improve natural disaster resilience, public resource management, the banking sector and private investment sustainability. Stronger ties between tourism and agriculture will also be established in order to distribute more wealth to rural areas.

At the 46th Annual Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) board of governors meeting in May 2016, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell praised the CDB for providing major financial assistance over the last decade in support of social and financial programs.

Looking to the future, Mitchell stated that progress can continue to be made with the CDB’s help to alleviate rural poverty in Grenada as well as in every Caribbean nation.

Alex Fidler

Photo: Flickr

Adopt a Beach
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) are mobilizing community-based organizations, clubs and companies to adopt beaches and conduct local beach cleanups in Jamaica.

The Adopt a Beach Program will provide tools for conducting efficient beach cleanups. By promoting clean beaches, it aims to build communities and secure jobs in the tourism sector during the upcoming 2017 fiscal year.

According to Anthony McKenzie, director of NEPA’s Environmental Management and Conservation Division, NEPA and UDC will distribute volunteers across a strip of coastline for the program’s pilot phase.

Jamaica relies on tourism for sustained economic growth and employment, so it is imperative that its beaches be maintained. Tourism employs approximately 200,000 of Jamaica’s 2.8 million people, about 7 percent of the population.

With support from the European Development Fund, new projects have been developed to improve disposal systems in two Jamaican tourist resort towns. These projects will emulate the Adopt a Beach Program, promoting proper waste management and environmentally safe practices.

The management of solid wastes in Jamaica presents serious concerns pertaining to the environment, public health, society and accountability. Many urban households lack the necessary sanitation tools to ensure proper waste disposal, putting groundwater, rivers and marine life at risk. There is also concern over the development of water-borne diseases.

Beaches are often polluted by private waste disposal contractors, but individuals also contribute to the damage. People are being advised to limit disposal of plastic waste in proximity to beaches. The “Trash Free Waters” initiative sponsored by NEPA aims to reduce the use of plastic blags, some of the biggest contributors to waste.

NEPA public relations officer Deleen Powell advised Jamaicans to find alternatives to using plastic bags. According to Powell, several supermarkets and pharmacies are promoting the use of reusable bags.

The Adopt a Beach Program will help reduce marine litter across Jamaica’s coastline and secure tourist investment and job production.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr