Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic
Human trafficking is a crime that involves unfair labor practices and sexual misuse of adults and children. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic is a big problem because of the popularity of the country as a tourist attraction. Some locals and foreign visitors look for the service of young women and children working in the area. A good number of women engaging in the activities are underage.

Female Victims of Human Trafficking

According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Dominican Republic is a Tier 2 country which means that the country does not fully comply with the requirements to end trafficking. For the Dominican Republic to go above and meet the standards that the U.S. Department of State has set, the country must be more aggressive in its efforts to convict more traffickers. Police need more training regarding how to deal with trafficking and work with children on the street.

In the illegal trafficking business, women make up more than half of the slave population globally. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic involves women who are the victims of abuse and neglect while engaging in sexual exploitation. Women and young girls are the victims of corrupt traffickers and corrupt authority figures in the Dominican Republic who side with the illegal trade and business.

Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

Victims of trafficking frequently look for opportunities to become financially independent and make money for themselves or to support their families. Depending on the situation, some victims do not come from the best living environments and want to escape their families.

To combat this, the Dominican Republic has implemented a national anti-trafficking plan. The first one emerged in 2003 followed by a nationwide plan in 2006. The country has seen some success in its efforts to bring justice ever since. For example, the Dominican Republic’s first maximum sentence sent a trafficker to prison for 25 years.

The International Justice Mission

The International Justice Mission (IJM) is an organization that focuses on human rights and law. The mission of the organization is to eradicate forced labor. IJM has worked successfully with the Dominican authorities by bringing justice to the country. A sense of normalcy and stability has returned by removing the criminals in the communities where they were working. IJM provides lawyers to build a case against traffickers that uses testimonies from survivors.

IJM saves victims of trafficking by cracking down on crimes and reporting them to the Dominican police. Additionally, it offers to help survivors find safe living spaces. The victims of these crimes suffer physically and psychologically. The psychological effects of such harm manifest in the long term in the form of mental health issues. IJM has treatment plans in place for government agencies and local organizations that address health, counseling and personal development measures.

Looking Forward

The Dominican Republic has implemented solutions to combat human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Organizations like IJM are necessary to improve life for survivors of trafficking while making the communities that the crime of trafficking most affects better. Victories are emerging and the good news is that some progress is better than none at all.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in the Dominican RepublicLike many developing nations, the Dominican Republic suffered massively in several communities, due to COVID-19. While the virus’s impact does not discriminate against social class — the homeless and impoverished are inevitably the most vulnerable. Given that more than 40% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, the severity of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic is alarming.

The Statistics: Cases, Deaths and Hospitalizations

As of August 27, 2020, the Dominican Republic has approximately 92,964 confirmed cases and 1,630 deaths. In the nation, “the fatality rate for COVID-19 is 1.79% while positivity is around 29.64%.” Recent reports suggest about 7,000 hospitalizations and 19,600 patients requiring self-isolation. To date, roughly 64,347 patients have recovered.

The World Bank Assists

At the beginning of April 2020, the World Bank responded to a request from the government of the Dominican Republic. This agreement released $150 million to provide funds to help manage and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Despite this financial supplementation, the nation’s cases eventually reached a peak in late July, days after declaring a second state of emergency. On August 18, 2020, the government held a conference called “Plan Para Enfrentar la Emergencia del COVID-19” or “The Plan to Deal with the COVID-19 Emergency.”

Here, the Ministry of Public Health announced that they are supplementing an additional 15,000 million pesos (totaling 66,000 from the original 51,000) toward the public health budget for the months of September–December 2020. The goal of this funding is to prevent an increase in contractions while providing sufficient healthcare attention to those already infected. They have also granted 2,000 previously uncovered Dominicans with health insurance. This statement was further elaborated; supporting that, if they test positive, any Dominican will receive the required medical assistance as needed. To track the spread and provide ample medical care, hospitals will perform 7,000 tests daily, instead of the regularly completed 3,000. They also plan to properly equip ten separate laboratories with PCR testing around the country.

More Governmental Initiatives

Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health has hired and trained 1,000 unemployed medical experts to facilitate treatment in hospitals. Also, they are planning to provide a 20% increase in available hospital beds by August 30, 2020. At the conference, president Luis Abinader urged for cooperation among the entire nation. Besides the school closures, mask requirements and level four travel advisory, the strength of the country against the virus depends on the collaboration of all individuals following mandated protocols.

However, the lack of adherence to guidelines has been noted frequently. Namely, in the less affluent communities, many are not following the strict curfews put in place. Instead, this disobedience leads to overcrowding in police stations; eliminating safe social distancing practices.

Oxfam’s Efforts

Oxfam International, a nonprofit organization committed to aiding developing nations in times of humanitarian crisis, has contributed greatly to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Their main effort is to grant financial assistance to those that have been temporarily unemployed due to the pandemic. They are prioritizing this aspect of the crisis because 50% of the population has experienced a cut or complete loss of income. Based on donations, they have been able to provide over 4,000 families with money transfers — enabling them to cover the costs of fundamental needs.

Camila Minerva Rodriguez, the Oxfam program director in the Dominican Republic, explains the additional installment of food voucher initiatives. During one day in northern Santo Domingo, she was able to provide 58 families with food vouchers, helping them afford grocery expenses.

In all, Oxfam’s efforts are aiding one specific, yet essential part of the daily struggles faced by Dominicans, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Acevedo-Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the most well-known and most visited countries internationally for tourists in the Caribbean. Although it is a rich area for tourists to travel, the poverty rate remains a major issue. Located in rural areas are many families who do not have proper schooling. They also do not have proper healthcare systems or access to basic sanitation and clean water. In 2018, the poverty rate for the Dominican Republic was 13.80%, a 2.1% decline from 2017. Meanwhile, 13.80% of the population in the Dominican Republic are unable to provide the basic needs for their families or loved ones. This country is still struggling and battling poverty. However, there are many efforts taking place to increase poverty eradication in the Dominican Republic.

Cross Catholic Outreach

Cross Catholic Outreach is a ministry that serves the poor globally by mobilizing churches and individuals to break the cycle of poverty. This organization helps to provide basic needs, such as food, clean water, education, medical support and more. These provisions go to the poorest countries around the globe. In rural areas, new homes are being built, providing safe and sustainable dwelling places for many families by Cross Catholic Outreach. These homes are now able to provide safe spaces and clean areas. As a result, families living in these homes can focus more on providing proper education for their children and seeking the medical care they need. As of 2019, 24 homes underwent construction with three water systems finished.

In addition, the Project, which the Cross Catholic Outreach ministry created, has provided new clean water systems. These systems have a mixture of gravity, electric and solar power to collect clean water. The water distributes to local homes, decreasing the number of waterborne illnesses and other diseases. With this strategy, The Project plans on having a total of six clean water systems that local brigades will construct within the Dominican Republic.

Food for Poor

Additionally, Food for Poor (FFP) is a nonprofit Christian organization. It provides supplies that include medicine, food and other necessities. In 2019, this organization shipped a 50 tractor-trailer cargo of supplies. The supplies contained food, medicine, healthcare and educational resources to the Dominican Republic. FFP built more than 1,500 homes and has assembled over 40 water projects. This organization continues to aid the poverty eradication in the Dominican Republic by initiating community development projects. These projects provide clinics, housing, agriculture, women’s vocational training projects and more.

The Social Protection Investment Project

The Social Protection Investment Project aims to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection in the Dominican Republic. The goal of this project was to enhance and improve educational and health investments to the poorest of people living in the Dominican Republic. Its goal was also to provide identification documents to unidentified Dominicans. The approach that this project took had to do with seeking out poor, undocumented Dominicans to direct them in securing identification documents. With families and individuals living in poverty being registered and identified, they will benefit from programs that aid poverty-stricken Dominicans. This should also lead them to securing educational and health investments.

Furthermore, the Social Protection Investment Project has met many of its goals. The percentage of households living in poverty that were lacking identification documents has reduced from 28% in 2005 to 7% in 2016. In 2012, the poverty status of registered households living in poverty was all certified for participation in programs that include the cash transfer program.

Overall, programs along with organizations are aiding poverty eradication in the Dominican Republic. They build new homes, implement clean water systems and provide necessities. Organizations are continuing to lend a helping hand all while thinking of new strategies to increase poverty eradication in the Dominican Republic.

– Kendra Anderson
Photo: Unsplash

updates on sdg goal 1 in the dominican republicAccording to the Sustainable Development Report, the Dominican Republic is making good progress on eradicating poverty. This is the first of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report states that 0.2 million Dominicans live under the poverty line of $1.90 a day, which is approximately 111 Dominican Pesos (DOM). This is an improvement from 2014, when 4.3 million Dominicans were making less than 111 DOM a day. Though the U.N. considers the Dominican Republic to have completed this goal, challenges remain for its second part. This would require the country to have every working Dominican earn more than $3.30 per day, which equals 187 DOM. Here are some important updates on SDG Goal 1 in the Dominican Republic.

Updates on SDG Goal 1 in the Dominican Republic

According to the report to the 2030 Agenda, the annual growth of real GDP in the Dominican Republic has been 5% annually since the 90’s. Additionally, poverty has declined from 40% in 2003 to 25.5%. The government claims that “Per Capita income has increased in the last decade, placing the country as a high middle-income economy.” Extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic is under 6%.

While financial poverty has improved, there is still multidimensional poverty influencing the small nation. Many residents face issues in public services, housing and regressing to poverty. Furthermore, this newfound economic boon is not distributed equally throughout the land. There are still greater amounts of poverty among kids and teenagers in rural areas and the unemployed.

To combat this, the Dominican government has promised to utilize its public policies to deepen its emphasis on universal social security, health care and education services. The government also wishes to address gender equality in the workforce. This would mean tackling the workplace wellbeing of the most vulnerable of the population, including women, children and those who work dangerous jobs. The government has also focused on reducing unemployment, which went down 2.6% between 2014 and 2017. While these numbers are good overall, women, teenagers and those in low-income housing still struggle to find jobs.

SDG Goal 1 Around the World

These updates on SDG Goal 1 in the Dominican Republic make it clear that this country is ahead of many others in terms of meeting this goal. While the SDG initiative has incentivized countries around the world to improve their citizens’ lives, there is still a lot of work to be done. 736 million people around the world still live in poverty, which means 10% of the global population is impoverished.

However, the number of people living in poverty around the world has decreased drastically since 1990. By the end of the decade, the SDG initiative will have hoped to “reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.” Overall, the program aims to “ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions.” It is fair to say that the Dominican Republic is on the right track to fulfill this goal.

Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful beaches, exquisite cuisine and all-inclusive resorts. Tourists can expect to witness beautiful sunsets and take amazing pictures during their stay. What tourists don’t see, however, is the crime, poverty and extreme homelessness in the Dominican Republic — a dark side to this island that must be brought to light.

5 Facts About Homelessness in the Dominican Republic

  1. Many homeless children are subject to violence and abuse. A homeless shelter in Santo Domingo named Niños Del Camino serves children from impoverished families. As of 2009, 77% of these children have experienced domestic violence. Children without a home are left unprotected and subject to abuse from people on the street, in a shelter or anywhere they can find a home.
  2. A significant percentage of children are homeless and need help. The Dominican National Council for Children and Adolescents serves about 19,000 children, out of the 4.7 million children that live in the Dominican Republic. Close to 600,000 children under age 15 lack parental care, and over 1 million children live in poverty. This means that far too many children in the Dominican Republic are homeless, and countless more are suffering from extreme poverty.
  3. Homeless children are referred to as “palomos.” The term comes from the Spanish word for dove, but it also refers to pests and nuisances. This name indicates how little homeless children mean to their country, and how desperately they must fend for themselves on the streets of the Dominican Republic.
  4. Street kids become desperate and turn to crime. When children are abandoned with nowhere to go, it makes sense that they turn to a life of crime. According to AmeriHand, “The longer they stay in the street, the more likely they are to start using and selling drugs, then escalate to armed robbery or other violent crime.” These kids have nothing to lose, so they do whatever they can to earn some money and get off the street.
  5. The National Council for Children and Adolescents is here to help the homeless children of the Dominican Republic. This organization aims to guarantee “the fundamental rights of children and adolescents and [promote] their development,” which includes helping them get off the street and back into their homes. The Council works with the government to increase the accountability of the government for vulnerable children in the Dominican Republic.

Palomos lead a life of sadness and poverty. These children get through difficult times by finding companions on the streets and sticking together. Most of children on the street are homeless for one of two reasons: either they were kicked out or abandoned by their family, or they left on their own accord after enduring horrible circumstances at home. While some children return home, others remain on the streets, subjected to the natural elements, abuse, muggings and other misfortunes. The Dominican Republic must do better for its homeless population, especially its children.

– Kate Estevez
Photo: Flickr

Cabarete Sostenible
Cabarete Sostenible was assembled as a response to the economic consequences of COVID-19. The Dominican Republic ultimately decided to shut its borders, and this effectively suspended Cabarete’s tourism industry. Cabarete Sostenible provides food to Cabarete’s local population.

Cabarete is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for surfers, water-skiers, swimmers and even horseback riders. The town draws tourists through its rich culture, natural scenery and of course, its beautiful beaches.

But this idyllic vision of Cabarete tells less than half of the whole story of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has fought a decades-long war against hunger and poverty. Though, in that time, the country has made significant improvements to its poverty rate and its rate of hunger.

Declining Poverty and Hunger

The Dominican Republic’s Gross Domestic Product increased at an average rate of 5.8% per year between 2011 and 2016. This was the second-highest rate of GDP growth in Latin America in that period. In 2017, the poverty rate was 15.9%, then dropping to 13.8% in 2018.

Similarly, the rate of hunger in the Dominican Republic continued to decrease over the same period of time. The Dominican Republic’s Global Hunger Index score was 12.8 in 2010. By the end of the decade, that score decreased to 9.2.

COVID-19 is a Threat to Continued Improvement

The World Bank has assessed that closures of a majority of the Dominican Republic’s tourism industry will lead to lower household income and higher rates of poverty. Cabarete Sostenible notes that over 65% of Cabarete’s population depends on the tourism industry for resources and food. Although the population is a relatively small 20,000 people, thousands in Cabarete are facing food shortages.

Cabarete Sostenible

A person is food insecure if he or she is without a three-day supply of food at any given time. Roughly 80% of Cabarete’s population is food insecure. Cabarete Sostenible has developed both an immediate and a longer-term solution to address food insecurity and hunger in Cabarete.

In the short term, Cabarete Sostenible provides ration packs to hungry and food-insecure individuals, which contain a week’s worth of nutrition. Ration packs include rice, beans, cooking oil, pasta, soap and bleach, milk, fruit pulp, oranges, spinach and dark, leafy greens. Four-dollar donations feed one person for one week, and 15-dollar donations feed a family of four for one week. All of the donations go directly to purchasing food.

In the long term, Cabarete Sostenible is building sustainable food production facilities. The organization has mobilized local landowners as part of this effort. Their project includes building “community gardens, permaculture farms and food education programs.”

Looking forward

The Dominican Republic locked down national borders because of COVID-19. This led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in Cabarete because over half of the local population depends on tourism for resources and food. As a result, the Dominican Republic will likely experience a regression in its rate of poverty and the rate of hunger because of disruptions to local economies. Cabarete Sostenible provides ration packs to the local population of Cabarete in order to limit further devastation. These ration packs are funded, in large part, by individual donations, or rather individual acts of love and solidarity.

Taylor Pangman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Dominican Republic has a population of more than 10.5 million. Hunger remains a pressing issue for many people in this region, and the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. In 2020, the country’s annual GDP growth rate fell to -8%, in part because of COVID-19. This drastic drop has the potential to bring poverty rates up and leave many more families food insecure. Here are five facts affecting hunger in the Dominican Republic in the post-COVID-19 era.

5 Facts About Hunger in the Dominican Republic

  1. Hunger is more prevalent in the Dominican Republic than in neighboring regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean combined, 42.5 million people suffer from hunger, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report. This means that 6.5% of the regional population goes hungry. In the Caribbean alone, however, which is where the Dominican Republic is located, this percentage is significantly higher: 18.4% of the population is undernourished.
  2. Over 2 million people in the Dominican Republic suffer from poverty, making for a national poverty rate of 21%. This is a relatively high poverty rate. Since poverty and hunger go hand in hand, to solve hunger in the Dominican Republic, we also need to reduce poverty. Some progress has been made in this area. The poverty rate is on the decline. In 2014, the World Bank reported that the middle class outnumbered the poor for the first time ever. This progress is a sign that poverty in the Dominican Republic can be lessened significantly through further action.
  3. The limited access to healthy food that some families experience in the Dominican Republic contributes to the country’s high rate of anemia. Anemia affects 28% of children under five. The most common type of Anemia is Iron Deficiency Anemia, which is caused by a shortage of iron in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. This type of anemia is often caused by a diet lacking in iron-rich foods. While the rate of children with anemia is still high, the World Food Programme and the government of the Dominican Republic have been able to drastically reduce this rate in the last few years. In 2010, the rate of children between 6 and 11 months diagnosed with anemia was 74.8% in 2010. By 2013, that rate had decreased to 27.3%.
  4. The Dominican Republic’s economy could crash in the near future, causing a surge in hunger. The Dominican Republic has decreased its tourism dramatically in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the US Embassy in the Dominican Republic, the government of the Dominican Republic has suspended all cruise arrivals and set up roadblocks that deter international travel, among other preventative measures. Much of the Dominican Republic’s economy relies on tourism, and it may be damaged badly by the new rules that have been put in place in response to the virus. This damage to the economy could also cause a rise in hunger.
  5. Hunger in the Dominican Republic is perpetuated by natural disasters. Natural disasters are common, and they contribute to hunger. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery classifies the Dominican Republic as a “hotspot” for natural disasters. Between 1980 and 2008, almost a quarter of the population was affected by natural disasters. Natural disasters perpetuate hunger because they destroy the livelihoods of many people, leaving them without a source of income and therefore less access to food.

Solutions

While hunger in the Dominican Republic is a serious issue, there are many organizations that are working to help solve it. For example, Food for the Hungry sponsors children through donations to make sure that they are able to eat. To date, the organization has sponsored 7,225 children. In the past, Food for the Hungry also helped provide aid to the country after natural disasters, such as Hurricane David and Tropical Storm Federico.

Another organization fighting hunger in the Dominican Republic is Food for the Poor. In 2019, the organization sent 50 truckloads of supplies to the Dominican Republic. These shipments included food as well as other necessities like educational supplies.

Conclusions

Hunger certainly isn’t a new problem in the Dominican Republic, but it is one that history shows can be ameliorated through focused humanitarian action. COVID-19, however, poses new problems and exacerbates some established ones. Economic instability and the curtailment of tourism have the potential to increase poverty rates that are already fairly high in the region. Hunger in the Dominican Republic is particularly hard on the region’s children, whose growing bodies are hardest hit by lack of nutrients. In order to assure a successful future for the Dominican Republic after COVID-19, attention needs to be given to the problem of hunger and malnutrition today.

Sophia Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Charitable MLB Players The athletes playing in Major League Baseball (MLB) are utilizing their fame and athletic talents to help those in need around the world. Some of these players grew up in countries with extreme poverty. Baseball was used as a means to find a better life and return to help their home countries with charities and relief efforts. Others have visited poverty-stricken countries and chose to make a difference in unique ways to increase poverty awareness. Here are three charitable MLB players who are giving back.

Baseball Players Giving Back Around the World

Pedro Martinez – Dominican Republic

Considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Pedro Martinez was a dominant force on the mound throughout his 17-year Hall of Fame MLB career, which included a World Series win with the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Born in the Dominican Republic, Martinez saw first-hand the poverty that gripped his home country as he trained for life in baseball. When the coronavirus hit his home country, he took action and led the way with his organization, the Pedro Martinez Foundation, along with 40 other Dominican born MLB players. The group created a fund that has raised more than $550,000 for the relief efforts. This will pay for 5,000 food kits that last a total of two weeks each. It also will provide thirty-two thousand medical masks for doctors and nurses, 110,000 masks for citizens and 7,700 protective suits for medical personnel.

Dee Gordon- Rwanda

During a baseball game, Dee Gordon is best known for stealing bases. Throughout his decade-long career, he has stolen 330 bases, the most of any player in a 10-year period. The Seattle Mariners 2nd baseman has been using his talent for stealing bases to help increase poverty awareness to the hunger issues in the Ruhango district of Rwanda. Gordon has been associated with organizations such as Food for the Hungry, Strike Out Poverty and the Big League Impact Foundation for several years in order to help feed people in the Central African nation since 2019. As a charitable MLB player, every time he steals a base during a game there is a donation that he personally gives of $100 that goes toward one of these organizations to help feed the people of the Ruhango district. He has raised over $47,000 over the years to help impoverished nations all over the world including Rwanda. 

Carlos Carrasco- Venezuela

In 2019, Carlos Carrasco received the Roberto Clemente Award for his efforts in helping out his community in his home country of Venezuela and around the world. The Roberto Clemente Award is given out once a year to the MLB player that shows extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contribution, both on and off the field. Carrasco, a 33-year-old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has been donating money and supplies to help those in Venezuela suffering from the current economic crisis that has gripped the nation for years. In 2019 he donated $300,000 to Casa Venezuela Cucuta, an organization out of Columbia that helps recent Venezuelan migrants fleeing the crisis. Carrasco has also sent toys, medical supplies and baseball equipment to the children living in Venezuela. 

These three charitable MLB players show their dedication to increasing poverty awareness in countries that need it most. Through baseball, they have found fame and fortune. With that success, they have given back to communities all over the world by giving their time, money and efforts in creating a life for those without. 

Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
When one thinks about the Dominican Republic, one may typically picture the beaches of Punta Cana or other tropical vacation destinations. Although the Dominican Republic has a strong and fast economic growth rate within the Latin American and Caribbean regions, the largest income group is a vulnerable set of individuals who have a high probability of falling back into poverty. In 2008, the national poverty rate was roughly 34% in the Dominican Republic. The national poverty rate fell to 21% in 2019. However, much more progress must occur in order for the people of the Dominican Republic to escape poverty. Here are five main influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic.

5 Influences on Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Lack of Quality Education: Young children and women do not have equal access to education in the Dominican Republic. About 36% of students do not finish their basic education. Many children who drop out are from the poorest areas of the country. They have to stop their education in order to help their families by working to earn money. In 2018, a total of 65,825 students were not in school. This pivotal set back will limit equal opportunities and their development. In order for the Dominican Republic to attain a positive economic turnaround, there must be an improvement in quality education. Since 2013, the government has increased its GDP spending on education and joined the World Bank’s Human Capital Project in order to get input about the improvement of human capital.
  2. Socio-economic Inequality: One cause of poverty in the Dominican Republic is unemployment. The employment rate of women is 33% in comparison to 61% of males in the workforce. Women are at a disadvantage due to the absence of education. Oftentimes women leave education in order to take care of the family and household. Even if women are in the work field, they are underpaid in comparison to men. The average pay for women was 79% of what men make.
  3. Lack of Sanitation: About one-fifth of citizens live in shacks without access to running water, electricity and proper sanitation. Although the country made an effort to increase access to sanitation services, this does not correlate with improved living conditions and quality. Many do not have equal access to quality infrastructure, which shows an increase in poverty. According to the Pan American Health Organization, the consumption of contaminated water led to severe diarrhea, which caused 50% of deaths in children under the age of 1. The World Bank Group helped restore water treatment facilities in Santo Domingo and Santiago. This led to more than one million gallons of drinking water for around 750,000 people. It also launched a project for wastewater treatment plants to help facilitate sanitation. The improvement of irrigation systems and clean water led to the improvement of local farms.
  4. Natural Hazards: The Dominican Republic suffers from natural disasters, which include earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and droughts. Natural disasters have negatively affected a quarter of the country’s population. Many buildings and homes are vulnerable to natural disasters due to a lack of enforcing proper building and zoning codes. Increased flooding due to climate change will lead to economic loss within the country. It is difficult for the government to produce aid for families and businesses burdened by natural disasters. In 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma brought high winds, flooding and landslides that devastated the country. These hurricanes caused major property damage due to the creation of strong storm surges along the coastline. Luckily, the death toll was not high from these hurricanes. However, the storms caused major damage to physical communities and left many without power, water and sanitation. The Dominican Red Cross responds to disasters where it has relief protocols in order to support the country. It distributed relief packages to more than 2,000 families affected by Hurricane Irma.
  5. Crime: Violence and criminal activity led to a downfall in the country’s wealth equality. Although the Dominican Republic’s gross domestic product continues to rise, different communities do not have equal funding. Higher crime rates lead to disproportionality of wealth. These poverty-stricken communities lack protection. This can lead to individuals living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is capable of reducing poverty in the next 10 years, but it must make major improvements. In order to end poverty in the Dominican Republic, representatives must improve the quality of education, health care services and employment through the implementation of policies that help the most vulnerable individuals. The country needs to make positive economic changes by increasing human capital and the business environment, improving the management of natural disasters and climate change and maintaining natural resources. These five influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic show that there needs to be policy changes in order to reshape the inequalities within the country.

Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

music education in developing countries
Around the globe, music education represents an influential force in the fight against poverty. Studies show that learning a musical instrument entails numerous cognitive advantages for children and young adults, improving memory, attention and communication skills. Music also builds confidence and allows students to express their creativity. In addition, the music industry creates space for new economic developments and possibilities. Here are four examples of music education in developing countries and the ways in which it makes a difference in the lives of the world’s poor.

Haiti

Amid political upheaval and the domestic challenges of daily life, music offers impoverished Haitians a source of comfort and strength. Organizations such as BLUME Haiti aim to utilize music as an avenue for education and community building.

After a deadly earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, BLUME Haiti began delivering musical instruments and supplies to help the nation rebuild. Through summer music camps, professional development workshops for Haitian music teachers, music classes in schools and other programs, BLUME Haiti continues to reach talented youth as they learn new skills and imagine broader possibilities for their futures.

In partnership with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, BLUME Haiti unveiled the innovative Haitian Orchestra Institute (HOI) in 2017. The program invites top music students from around the country to develop their craft alongside professional musicians. Chosen through a selective audition process, participants join Utah Symphony’s Music Director Thierry Fischer for a full week of rehearsals, sectionals, lessons and a final concert. Each year, HOI affords hundreds of young artists a life-changing experience.

The Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, public schools are often unable to fund enrichment programs that allow students to express their creativity outside the classroom. Without a creative outlet, many students find themselves disengaged from the curriculum and choose to drop out of school.

The DREAM Music Education Program is taking steps to combat this issue. DREAM introduces music programs in public schools to improve students’ educational experience and strengthen their cognitive abilities. Since undertaking these efforts, the organization has found that students who participate in a band or other musical ensemble are seven times more likely to graduate from high school.

In all DREAM programs, students receive training in basic musical skills, work together in a group setting and develop an appreciation for Dominican musical traditions. Performance opportunities and interactive classes throughout the year celebrate all students’ achievements. Meanwhile, hoping to instill in them a sense of identity and belonging, DREAM works particularly hard to reach at-risk youth.

Rwanda

Music education also plays a critical role in Rwanda, where people are still reeling from the trauma of genocide. Two programs have initiated a joint effort to use music as a means of therapy, aid and economic development for the Rwandan people.

Music Road Rwanda sponsors live music events throughout the country that feature both classical and traditional Rwandan music. The organization also raises money for students to train at the Kigali Music School. Generous scholarships, funded by Music Road Rwanda’s “adopt-a-student” model, allow under-resourced youth to prepare for careers as musicians and music therapists.

Musicians Without Borders Rwanda expresses a similar mission of hope and healing through music. Working in concert with its medical partner We-ACTx for Hope, the organization hires local artists to teach singing and songwriting in traumatized communities. In 2012, Musicians Without Borders introduced its Music Leadership Training campaign, encouraging students to embrace music as a vehicle for empathy and social change.

Bangladesh

The Mirpur district of Dhaka, Bangladesh is one of the poorest areas in the world: 32% of residents live on less than $2 a day, and 48% of children suffer from malnutrition. Illiteracy rates are also among the world’s highest. Two music teachers from the Playing for Change Foundation are working to make a difference here through music education.

Their free music classes take a unique, interdisciplinary approach to help students develop vocabulary, reading and pronunciation skills as they learn their instruments. The two teachers spend nearly 100 hours each month with their students, who range in age from 5 to 12 years old. All students come from the approximately 950 children receiving education from the poverty-relief organization SpaandanB.

Donors from around the world have contributed funds to purchase keyboards, acoustic guitars and ukuleles for Mirpur music students. Each instrument costs between $80 and $100 and affords students the invaluable gift of cherishing music for a lifetime.

Young musicians worldwide, especially those living in poverty, benefit from the rigor of music education. Music connects people through a language that transcends the bounds of time, space and nation. At the same time, it supports the development of critical life skills. It is imperative that we continue to provide music education in developing countries and foster the innumerable advantages it promises to bring in its train.

Katie Painter 
Photo: U.S. Air Force