Curacao Poverty RateOn October 10, 2010, after centuries operating as a deep-water port for the Dutch, the small Caribbean island of Curacao gained autonomy as a state in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 80 percent of the country’s debt was forgiven by the Dutch, and most government positions were undertaken by local citizens. For many who lived on the island, 10/10/10 marked the dawn of a new era of opportunity. “We were confident that we were going to have this perfect future,” said political analyst Michiel van der Veur.

Enthusiasm was short lived. Soon after gaining autonomy, the assassination of politician Helman Wiels plunged the island into turmoil. Between 2012 and 2013, Curacao had four prime ministers, greatly increasing the instability. As a country plagued with such unrest, it should be no wonder that the Curacao poverty rate is over 25 percent.

A small island country located in the Caribbean, much of the economy in Curacao is based around tourism and is thus highly sensitive to fluxes in the world market. Most of the country’s necessities are imported, leading to large trade deficits.

The Curacao poverty rate is likely increased by the country’s “brain drain” problem. Like many other developing island nations, citizens who are ambitious and educated often leave, moving to other countries with better opportunities for people with their skill sets.

However, Curacao has committed itself to addressing the country’s widespread poverty. With the support and assistance of the U.N. Development Program, Curacao has created a National Development Plan (NDP), which will focus on improving the economy through a series of steps from 2015 to 2030.

The NDP focuses on five themes to accomplish its goal: education, economy, sustainability, national identity and good governance. As diminishing the Curacao poverty rate is a priority, economy is one of the most important themes. In order to accomplish this, Curacao will focus on structural reform, government support, sectoral growth, supporting investments and broadening ownership of industry and land.

With the NDP, Curacao has taken a significant step towards strengthening the economy and the country as a whole. While there is much work to do, the country’s history as a long time trading center and large deep water port point to a high probability of success.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

CIFA Begins with Schoolchildren to Address Hunger in Curacao
Curacao, an island country north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean Sea, has become a popular tourist destination for its picturesque beaches and exciting nightlife. Nonetheless, hunger in Curacao is an issue for many families as the country has struggled to become stable since regaining its freedom from the Dutch in 2010 and electing a series of ineffectual leaders. In just six years of self-governance, the country has had six prime ministers.

In 2011, a quarter of Curacao’s total population sat below the poverty line, with more than half below the line in certain regions. Nationwide employment has fluctuated over the past three decades and has seen significant dips and surges as recently as 2015. The economy’s instability has left many children without enough to eat.

In response, the Curacao International Financial Association (CIFA) launched a campaign in May to guarantee nutritious meals for schoolchildren from struggling families. The project, entitled “Tur Mucha Mester Kome” (Papiamento for “All Children Must Eat”), provides breakfast to students who would otherwise go hungry at school and is conducted via the Lions Club.

The first school to benefit from the project is the VSO-ZMLK Marieta Alberto school, where 12 needy children received breakfast on May 12. The foundation also collaborates with psychologists, advisors and churches in hopes of taking the campaign’s benefits beyond schools and into students’ home lives.

CIFA plans to continue expanding the program with a website in the works that will allow people to sponsor schools or individual students.

Curacao’s tenuous political framework has bred a fairly fragile economy. The Economist predicts that the country will continue to face economic obstacles in 2017 and 2018, so initiatives like Tur Mucha Mester Kome are bold, influential and necessary when it comes to decreasing hunger in Curacao.

With all hands on deck, Curacao may well become prosperous in the years ahead.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in CuracaoCuracao, comprised of one main island and one smaller, uninhabited island in the Caribbean, is best known for its pristine coral reefs, brightly painted houses, arid climate and ocean colored liquor named after the islands. However, the beauty of the country often disguises distressing poverty in Curacao.

The Netherlands Antilles were dissolved in 2010, but within a few years, the country soon turned to chaos due to political turmoil and corruption. A string of unsuccessful leaders, violence and increased taxes plagued the country.

According to the most recent census, more than 25 percent of households in the country lived below the poverty line as of 2011. In some areas, more than 50 percent of families were living below the poverty line. One larger area, Fortuna, had 52.4 percent of around 1,000 households living in poverty in 2011.

In 2014, the unemployment rate was 12.6 percent but dropped to 11.7 percent the following year. The economy in Curacao is mainly dependent on the petroleum industry. The country relies heavily on imports and a recent decline in phosphate mining and the oil industry in Curacao contributes to the lack of job openings available.

However, there is hope for the job market as the capital of Willemstad also serves as a major Caribbean banking hub. More importantly, a growing tourism industry provides hope for the future job market. More than 400,000 tourists visited the country in 2012 alone.

As Curacao becomes a more popular cruise ship stop, the numbers have increased even more since then, with almost 470,000 visitors last year. Curacao is expectantly the most popular among Dutch tourists.

After gaining autonomy in 2010, Curacao struggled to achieve a stable government and economy. Recently the country seems to have taken a positive turn by reducing unemployment and increasing tourism. At this rate, the next census could potentially show a decrease of poverty in Curacao.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr