Poverty in the Dominican Republic
Although the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest-growing economies since the year 2000, it still struggles with income inequality and a high poverty rate of 30 percent as of 2016. Diversification in the past three decades is strengthening the economy and improving tourism and infrastructure. Despite this, the poverty rate remains fairly high. The following describes five ways to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic and bring income equality to Dominicans.

5 Ways to Reduce Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Government Transparency: Transparency International ranks the Dominican Republic 129 out of 180 countries based on public sector corruption. The ranking demonstrates a failure to control corruption. A lack of transparency dissuades external and internal investors from investment. Under-the-table bribery creates an economy that thrives on bribery instead of honest, hard-working individuals. Active enforcement of laws and corruption-reducing policies could help draw investors to the developing economy and spur faster future growth. In an effort to reduce corruption, the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, updated its Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act in 2017 to include the definition of money laundering to crimes including copyright, tax evasion and avoidance and counterfeiting.
  2. Infrastructure Development: Once an agriculture-based economy, the Dominican Republic has transitioned into a diversified economy. Mining, trade, tourism, manufacturing, telecommunications, finance and services make up more than 90 percent of the country’s GDP. The remaining 10 percent is in agriculture. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress in infrastructure, frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea destroy many roads, bridges and docks. The country especially overlooks damage in rural areas, where there is a prominence of poverty. To reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic, investment in repairing areas, such as farmland that hurricanes destroyed, can help alleviate issues and provide easy access to markets. More than 98 percent of the country has access to electricity, yet the reliability is questionable. Frequent outages in rural and urban areas are common. The government owns and operates electricity, and the unreliability is a constant complaint from Dominicans. A more reliable, widespread and affordable electrical grid would open the country to faster development, and a side effect would be additional jobs in the privatized electric companies.
  3. Education Inequality: Inequality is a major issue in the Dominican Republic. Insufficient income reduces the probability of receiving an education and health care. It also happens to be one reason for high illiteracy rates amongst the poor. About 26 percent of the poorest Dominicans are literate. A lack of education is a huge barrier to rising out of poverty. Adding programs to help enable universal access to education can help the poor and, as a result, grant skills and expertise to help the Dominican economy grow.
  4. Health: Another way to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic is to improve the health care industry. The Ministry of Public Health and Public Welfare administer public services. In 2007, 36 percent had to pay the entirety for public service that is supposed to be free but is not exactly. Only 12 percent of Dominicans report that all or part of the service qualifies for coverage. Cost of public health care is especially a barrier to women, the elderly and the poor. Reducing costs could help reduce the 30 percent poverty rate.
  5. Utilizing Competitive Advantages: Top exports include gold, tobacco, knit t-shirts, low-voltage protection equipment and medical instruments. Competition in the marketplace can increase productivity, a major issue in low-income economies. Utilizing competitive advantages enables the country to produce products for less money and sell them in the current country at a reasonable cost. Poor households would pay less for the products made in the Dominican Republic and therefore would help reduce poverty.

A negative trade balance of $8 billion expresses a need to create and export more products in order to improve the business climate and reduce costs to Dominican consumers. Active humanitarian involvement and utilization of its competitive advantages could help boost growth and bring Dominicans out of poverty.

Efforts to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic are making great strides. President Medina is combating government corruption and the economy is diversifying. Additionally, improving infrastructure and adding jobs, as well as access to education and health care will aid the Dominican Republic in poverty reduction and economic well being.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Growth in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation of 10.77 million people, shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is primarily known for its beautiful beaches and resorts. With a 13.5 percent youth unemployment rate in the country, these resorts provide necessary jobs, economic stimulation and growth in the Dominican Republic. Despite the recent negative media attention, the growth of resorts shows no sign of stopping. Four new resorts opening in late 2019 and 2020 will continue adding to the burgeoning tourist industry, increasing numbers of workers in the service sector and establish mutually beneficial U.S. and Dominican exchanges.

The Pillar of Tourism

According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, the tourism industry is one of the “four pillars” of the Dominican economy. It forms 7.9 percent of the economy. Growth in the Dominican Republic focuses on projects encouraging tourists to spend more money. There are already 65 such projects approved by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for 2019.

Speedy development will continue the trend of success in the tourism sector. The Dominican Republic Association for Hotels and Tourism statistics for 2018 displayed a 6.2 percent increase in the sector, which now makes up 20 percent of Caribbean trips. There was also a six percent increase in hotel rooms, and people filled 77 percent of total rooms. Overall, the industry reaped immense revenues of $7.2 billion in 2017. Tourism’s success contributes to GDP growth. The University of Denver predicts $89.54 billion in 2019, and GDP rising to $161.4 billion by 2030.

More Rooms, More Jobs

New resorts will extend the tourism industry’s prosperity by increasing the amount of occupied rooms and the jobs required to service visitors. The World Bank reported that the Dominican labor force was 4,952,136 workers in 2018, up from 3,911,218 only eight years before. Service sector workers made up 61.4 percent in 2017, illustrating the prominent role tourism and related industries play for the growth of the Dominican Republic. Here are four vacation spots heating up employment progress in late 2019 and 2020:

Grand Fiesta Americana Punta Cana Los Corales: This resort, owned by the Mexican Company Posadas, will have 558 rooms and various amenities necessitating more staff. The Director-General of Posadas, José Carlos Azcárraga, expressed hopes that the new resort will aid one of the fastest-growing Caribbean economies. The Dominican president visited the cornerstone to show his support. The resort opens in late 2019.

Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana: This American-owned Playa Hotels and Resorts brand also had a groundbreaking ceremony attended by the Dominican president. There will be 750 rooms requiring staff attention, alongside the various dining and fitness services provided. It opens in November 2019.

Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda: This newest edition to Club Med’s resort collection will be an eco-friendly environment with four separate “villages” for new employees to manage. In an email to The Borgen Project, Club Med stated it will hire more than 440 Dominicans and help lead vocational training for approximately 1,000 locals to extend the resort’s positive impact. It opens in November 2019.

Dreams Resorts and Spas in El Macao: AMResorts, a subsidiary of the American-owned Apple Leisure Group, will have 500 rooms for the staff to manage. Bars, pools and a litany of eateries will require service sector employees as well. It opens in 2020.

A Vacation for Two

The development of new resorts is mutually beneficial for both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. The island nation’s tourism is highly dependent on American visitors, who formed 33.85 percent of guests in 2013. The Dominican Embassy reported that individual tourists spent $1,055 on average in the same year. Americans received a pleasant vacation in exchange for growth in the Dominican Republic.

Two of the above resorts are branded by American companies as well. Their earnings not only benefit the Dominican economy but also benefit the American economy. Resort companies are part of a larger exchange where 53 percent of 2017 Dominican trade was with the U.S.. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service found that the Dominican Republic imported 42 percent of its goods from the U.S. in the same year.

Unfortunately, the four new resorts will not solve all of the Dominican Republic’s problems. Poverty remains high at 30.5 percent, although it has dropped from 41.2 percent in 2013. However, new resorts contribute to this decrease by providing employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most lucrative sectors.

– Sean Galli
Photo: Flickr

Vector-Borne Diseases in the Dominican Republic
With its majestic beaches and year-round tropical climate, the Dominican Republic is certainly a top tourist destination in the Caribbean. However, the hot and humid tropical weather combined with limited access to clean water and sanitation services, constitute an ideal ecosystem for the spread of vector-borne diseases.

These are diseases that are transmitted through living organisms known as vectors. According to the World Health Organization, vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies, among others, transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans.

The top vector-borne diseases in the Dominican Republic are Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.

In recent years, increased concern about these outbreaks has given rise to an intense national public health response to educate the population about preventative measures. Global initiatives have also been launched to eradicate these diseases as they continue to affect the population.

Top Vector-Borne Diseases in the Dominican Republic

Malaria. In 2018, there were 462 reported cases of Malaria in the Dominican Republic, representing a 22 percent increase compared to 2017. This virus is transmitted by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes. Main symptoms include fever, headache and chills. Although curable, it becomes life-threatening if treatment is not received as soon as the symptoms appear.

Global initiatives, such as the one launched in 2018 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Carlos Slim Foundation, seek to end malaria in Central America and the Dominican Republic by 2022. This initiative will direct funds to close the technical and financial gaps preventing the implementation of Malaria elimination plans, ensuring that malaria remains a top health and development priority.

Dengue. There were three major dengue outbreaks in the Dominican Republic in 1998, 2000 and 2002. In 2018, there were 1,251 reported cases of Dengue, representing a 2 percent decrease compared to 2017. It is transmitted by the bites of female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like illness.

The Dominican Red Cross together with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, the Prison System Directorate-General and Dominican universities, have been conducting concrete actions to aid dengue-affected individuals in the Dominican Republic. These actions include the deployment of volunteers who assist in the elimination of mosquito breeding sites, distribution of educational materials, larviciding, garbage removal and the cleaning of gutters. These efforts have contributed to a reduction in the risk of contracting Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya in 318 communities nationwide.

Chikungunya. There was a massive Chikungunya outbreak in the Dominican Republic in 2014, with 429,421 confirmed cases reported, which represented 65 percent of all reported cases from the Americas. Chikungunya is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, joint pain, muscle pain, nausea and fatigue. As of 2018, the virus has been largely contained.

Zika. In 2016, a major Zika outbreak impacted the Dominican Republic, with 5,245 confirmed cases up to 2017. Transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes genus mosquitoes, symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis as well as muscle and joint pain. It can cause microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities during pregnancy, as well as the Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.

In 2018, with funding from the USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted Zika-related activities in the Dominican Republic, which include emergency response needs assessment, laboratory strengthening, vector control, surveillance capacity building, testing of mobile survey application, and a field epidemiology training program.

As the World Health Organization explains, a crucial element in preventing the outbreak of these vector-borne diseases is behavioral change. Educating the population about preventative measures to decrease the spread of these diseases will empower them to protect themselves.

The government continues to educate citizens about the importance of eliminating breeding sites around homes, schools and work sites. Additionally, the use of physical barriers and insecticide is recommended.

– Claudia Ratti
Photo: Google

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a geographically and ethnically diverse island nation located in the Caribbean and shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The past few decades have seen momentous change for the country, both political and economic. This change has been mostly positive, resulting in the more representative democracy and growing economy. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Dominican Republic are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Dominican Republic

  1. The Dominican Republic is a presidential republic, with approximately 10.5 million residents, making it the second most populous nation in the Caribbean. Consequently, it is one of the most influential countries in the region.
  2. A remarkable development of the country can be seen best by looking at the country’s GDP growth rate. The economy grew by 6.3 percent in 2018 and averaged around 5 percent growth in the preceding decade. The country benefits from a large export market in the United States and a service-based economy, particularly tourism. Millions of people visit the country every year for its warm climate and beaches.
  3. Dominicans elect their leaders through democratic elections. The president is elected to a four-year term, and the office is currently held by President Danilo Medina. Democratic elections are certainly an improvement from the country’s history of autocratic rule. However, Freedom House states that elections could be more inclusive if equal access to party funding, media coverage, and vote count efficiency were improved.
  4. Despite sustaining impressive economic growth, the country performs quite poorly in several health metrics. Life expectancy ranks 151th out of 223 countries, infant mortality at 22.7 deaths per 1,000 is well above the world average, and infectious diseases such as dengue fever, AIDS and typhoid remain prevalent.
  5. Primary education in the Dominican Republic is compulsory. Eighty-five percent of Dominicans are officially literate. However, an educational divide exists between the wealthy and the poor. Poorer Dominicans are less likely to pursue a college or vocational degree, likely due to added household responsibilities, such as caring for family and earning money.
  6. Crime remains a concern in the Dominican Republic. As a transit point for narcotics entering North America, gang activity is constantly present. The conflicts among rival gangs contribute to a homicide rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants, ranking the Dominican Republic in the top 10 worldwide homicide leaders.
  7. Pervasive corruption is a grim reality in the Dominican Republic. From multinational corporations bribing government officials for favorable business deals to police officers hoping to make a quick dollar on the side, many Dominicans accept corruption as inevitable. The Corruptions Perceptions Index ranks nations by assigning them a score in a range from zero to 100, zero being least corrupt. The Dominican Republic receives a score of 33, ranking it at the 103rd place out of 167 countries assessed. Such corruption robs citizens of efficient government, as their tax dollars are squandered in favor of preferential treatment for those loyal to the government.
  8. Although poverty is declining, income inequality is a concern for the country. Poverty decreased from 30.8 percent to 28.9 percent in 2016, although still leaving over a quarter of the population poor. Dominican Republic’s GINI coefficient, which measures income inequality, is 45.3, considered to be moderately high.
  9. Another issue plaguing the Dominican Republic is access to efficient electricity. This has consequences for many sectors of society, most critically medicine. The Inter-American Development Bank is providing a $400 million loan to the Dominican government, with a goal of improving energy efficiency. This will be accomplished through improving oversight of the electricity network’s regulatory board and reforming the private electricity market.
  10. Fleeing poverty and devastation from earthquakes, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have immigrated to their neighboring nation in search of a better life. The Dominican government has recently taken drastic measures regarding this issue, including deportation crackdowns and ending birthright citizenship. Tactfully addressing this challenge is paramount for the Dominican Republic, as uncontrolled immigration can strain social services. However, the plight of refugees must also be taken into consideration.

Life in the Dominican Republic can be seen as beautiful, considering the country’s natural riches and beautiful sceneries. However, this island nation still has a long way to go in achieving equality and high living standards for its citizens. Improvements have been made in the past few years, but the government must address various issues, such as crime and corruption, in order to make a country true heaven on Earth.

– Joseph Banish
Photo: Flickr

Using Technology for Decreasing Poverty in the Dominican Republic Via Technology
A promising program that is aiming to help to bring people in the Dominican Republic out of poverty is the Community Technology Center Program (CTC). This initiative is one key sign of the progress the country is making in improving health, promoting gender equality and decreasing poverty in the Dominican Republic. With more innovative programs like the CTCs, the country could continue to see significant progress in many areas of poverty reduction through education and access to technological resources.

What Do CTCs Offer?

Since its inception in 1998, the primary purpose of the CTCs is to offer technology resources for people to help in areas such as employment and education, thereby increasing financial stability. The CTCs are also working to achieve its mission connected to health by helping to prevent the spread of disease by offering people access to information about health. Currently, there are 87 centers, but there are plans to build more.

The CTC initiative works towards helping families living on a dollar per day to possess the tools to help themselves increase their financial stability. One of the reasons for the success of the CTC program is that it utilizes technology to help people at no cost, thereby bestowing to people the tools to have a say in their lives. In fact, the centers offer technology training for those who don’t know how to use the resources.

Empowering Women and Minorities

Assistance for women, the disabled, immigrants and others who have not had access to online information and technology is a top priority. One of the issues the CTC programs has been trying to address is women’s access and use of the Internet. At least “three-fourths of the female population don’t use the internet.” The CTC initiative is also working to expand women’s participation in technology and Internet access.

The part of the program, women on the net, also demonstrates the progress that the CTCs are making. Some of the areas of education the centers provide are programming, multimedia and telecommunications. By providing education in these areas, the goal is for participants to find jobs in technology. By 2013, 700 female participants had finished programs at various centers, learning computer literacy and technology.

By providing assistance to people with disabilities, immigrants and non-legal residents, CTCs are helping to reduce poverty in often marginalized communities. One of the people the program has aided in employment, Julien Joseph-Josue, said the CTC program made him feel like “part of a family.” Joseph-Josue is a Haitian immigrant who received training to help his career as an interpreter.

The Success of the Program

The centers provide opportunities for learning and sharing in a community space as well as providing training in obtaining a job. Currently, the centers have achieved substantial progress in alleviating poverty in the Dominican Republic and have made significant strides in working to promote gender equality. The number of people CTCs has helped demonstrates this development. CTCs have helped develop the skills of around 40,000 people, 60 percent of these people being women, creating a more positive outlook.

Demonstrating a continual sign of progress the CTC program has made is the Bill and Melinda Gates recognition for the initiative for its innovation. The organization awarded the initiative The 2012 Access to Learning Award (ATLA), an award for organizations across the globe that offer access to technology. The CTC program obtained $1 million from this award. Furthermore, Microsoft will give $18 million worth of software to the initiative in accordance with its global citizenship effort to offer help in the positive developments from technology.

The technology that the program provides allows for access to information aiding in financial stability, health and decreasing poverty in the Dominican Republic. In addition, the CTCs have been shown to move the Dominican Republic further along on the path to achieving gender equality. With the continual effort of the initiative, hopefully, there will be more positive results in the effort to alleviate poverty in the Dominican Republic.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

Dominican Baseball Recruitment
American baseball has become increasingly diverse and filled with players not originally from the United States. Major and minor league recruiters set up sophisticated training facilities, or ‘academias,’ throughout Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, aiming to streamline talented students to successful careers in U.S. baseball. The academias function as motivation and preparation for Hispanic youth to bring themselves and their families out of poverty. Since 4 out of 10 are impoverished in the Dominican Republic, baseball is seen as a ticket out. There are many benefits that come from baseball recruitment in the Dominican Republic.

Baseball in the Dominican Republic

More Major League Baseball players come from the Dominican Republic than any other country. In 2016, 134 players came from the country, about one in every 10 major leaguers. In the Dominican Republic, efforts to build the best players begin with children as young as 14 years old.

It is estimated that Dominican players earn roughly $400 million each year from playing baseball, some of which is sent back to the Dominican Republican and reinvested in their economy. This sum makes up a small part of the true financial impact of baseball in the Dominican Republic, as the training academias draw in thousands of aspiring youths — not just Dominicans, but also those from neighboring countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico and Cuba. These facilities must be staffed with trainers and equipment, and baseball is estimated to spur the Dominican economy by $1 billion a year.

Pros and Cons

Baseball also plays a socially positive role for Dominicans. Dominican baseball recruitment bonds families and friends towards a common goal, and keeps youth out of troubling activities that could derail futures. Major league players functions as heroes and inspiration—showing those who come from nothing that success is possible. Those who grow up impoverished can make it to the MLB, amass a fortune, and spread the wealth back to their home country.

A downside frequently exists when this type of cultural transplant occurs. On average, only 2 percent of those who enter academias ever make it to the major leagues. Another major issue is the use of performance enhancing drugs on youth to make them more competitive to recruiters — handlers, or agents, stand to benefit from their prodigies’ prowess and success. 

Since players’ signing bonuses range anywhere from $10,000 to over $3 million, with handlers receiving 10 percent – 50 percent of this amount, it’s logical that Dominican players make up 38 percent out of those who test positive for these drugs. In addition, few legal boundaries are in place for how players are handled prior to handling, and often result in vast amounts of corruption among agents.

Back to One’s Roots

Despite these problems, the success of baseball recruitment in the Dominican Republic remains strong. Nelson Cruz, the Seattle Mariners cleanup hitter, is an exemplary illustration of a Dominican player that gives back in meaningful ways. 

Living the good life as an impressive MLB player, he has not forgotten the reality of life for many back home in the Dominican Republic. His family ingrained in him a commitment to doing the right thing, and after his old neighbors and lifelong friends in Las Matas de Santa Cruz lost their home in a fire, he arranged to have a firetruck sent back to his hometown.

“In my community, we didn’t have a firetruck,” Cruz said. “We also needed an ambulance because we don’t have the biggest hospital. When somebody gets sick, or accidents or heart attacks, any emergency, we had to transport those people in trucks or SUVs, nothing that can give you the medical attention you need.”  In the U.S., we take things like emergency medical response for granted, but this is often not the case in many Latin American countries. Cruz’s donation has reportedly helped save many lives and changed the landscape of his home country.

Living the Dream

Cruz has also arranged a scholarship program to help combat some of the issues with baseball recruitment. Oftentimes, recruits leave school and sign a three-year contract but never make it to the big leagues, leaving them with nothing and no education. Cruz helped create a scholarship program to help these youth obtain an online diploma in an attempt to ease the transition for Hispanic youth whose baseball dreams fail to take them to full athletic success. 

This story of one of many Hispanic players giving back to their home countries facing extreme poverty demonstrates the positive cycle spurred by baseball recruitment in Latin America. This sport helps bring underdeveloped countries out of extreme poverty and can act as a beacon of hope for Hispanic youth.

– Jilly Fox

Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic (DR) — with assistance from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and other institutions — has instilled a clear strategy for economic development. Fortunately, the Dominican Republic is now reaping the fruits of such labor.

Up-to-Date Advances

There are several facets to the economic growth in the Dominican Republic, but two pillars of such growth stand out. As outlined in the Caribbean Growth Forum, two of these pillars are improving business climate and modernizing the public sector, and these well-planed has created extreme progress in the DR.

First Pillar

The speed at which companies seek to register their businesses has decreased from 45 to 7 days. The rate at which property titles are issued and bills for bankruptcy law are finalized both occur much more rapidly. Ultimately, such changes benefit both small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and creditors, since the former has greater borrowing capacity, while the latter has better protection.

The Dominican Republic’s business climate has also improved through the implementation of programs for non-reimbursable seed money to boost entrepreneurship amongst the youth. The Industry and Commerce Ministry created a training pilot to fortify business management practices to over 5000 SMEs.

These initiatives are crucial to empowering bright minds in the community to take risks on business endeavors and successfully manage such startups. Moreover, this also allows for greater attraction of investors, who seek to capitalize on promising entrepreneurial undertakings. SMEs already in existence would, of course, benefit from the training in commercial management.

Loans For Change

A significant stride to improve the business climate in the Dominican Republic came in the form of a $300 million policy centered loan from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2017. This effort seeks to support financial regulations in order to increase productivity, foster the creation of institutions to finance productive development as well as improve protection of contracts and transactions.

Additionally, this plan of action would update administrative processes, facilitate growth in competitiveness and help institutions that focus on promoting innovation and production developments. Finally, the loan would work to reduce evasion and avoidance of social security contributions by strengthening fiscal and social security systems, which would ultimately boost labor formalities.

Second Pillar

According to the World Bank, the Citizen Observatory for Public Procurement and 25 other committees have been created to monitor public contracts. By doing so, the changes would:

  • Foster private sector confidence
  • Encourage SMEs to participate in public contracting
  • Form greater transparency, especially in what is “open procurement”

In 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank financed a $25 million project that worked to develop the Dominican Republic’s fiscal structure. In doing so, the project enables the processes of planning, monitoring and evaluating budgets, and helps modernize the ways of conducting the management of public funds. In addition, the endeavor also fosters greater participation of SMEs — particularly led by women — in public purchases.

What Now?

There are a set of focal points that would illustrate and improve the effectiveness of the strategies regarding the economic growth in the DR. The set includes creating a feedback-loop that would help assess reform implementation and accomplishment of goals, and therefore scale outreach and media interactions with stakeholders and set greater definitions of reforms, their timelines and other indicators of performance.

In the past decade, economic growth in the DR has been achieved through the execution of new strategies of development. These strategies, amongst other details, coincide with the DR’s 2030 National Development Strategy and have set the country on track for continued growth.

A Nation’s Future

The Dominican Republic, with the support of international institutions, is a step closer to accomplishing its goals. Already, the country has experienced success in many vital aspects of its economy’s sustainability, and its potential for continued growth is abundant.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Food and Water Shortages in the Dominican RepublicNatural disasters are causing food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic, but the non-profit organization SERV International brings dry food goods and water filters to provide citizens with the basic necessities they need after severe storms hit.

Natural Disasters Bring Food and Water Shortages

Between 1980 and 2008, 40 natural disasters have affected 2.65 million people in the Dominican Republic, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

Hurricane season for the Caribbean Islands lasts from June to November, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Hurricanes bring heavy rains and high winds that can cause damage to infrastructure and crops. Flash floods and landslides are common aftereffects of these destructive storms.

Because agricultural jobs employ more than a fifth of the citizens in the Dominican Republic, the devastation of crops due to natural disasters not only destroys food for people to eat but also causes a loss of jobs. One of their most valuable crops, sugarcane, is the most affected by natural disasters, according to The World Bank.

Hurricanes and other tropical storms can also destroy pipes and sewage systems, leaving behind water polluted by fecal matter, which is where cholera thrives. The CDC defines cholera as an infectious bacterial disease that is contracted from drinking contaminated water. Side effects of this disease are vomiting, diarrhea and possible death. As of June 18, there have already been 56 confirmed deaths from cholera in the Dominican Republic this year.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, prolonged droughts are also frequent hazards that can cause food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic. UNICEF warns that droughts make finding clean water difficult and could potentially lead to malnutrition.

What is SERV International doing to help?

SERV International is a Christian-based organization that sends missionaries to deliver food and clean water to underdeveloped countries all over the world.

Katie Kasha, who is the daughter of the founder and CEO of SERV, talked to The Borgen Project about her experiences in the Dominican Republic in 2014 and 2015 after Hurricane Sandy had hit the previous year. “It all starts with food,” Kasha said. “As a result of going into communities and giving food, we have been able to build relationships and invest into those communities by planting wells and churches.”

Kasha and the rest of the SERV team have brought food to a small village called San Jose as well as a few other small sugarcane villages. Kasha described the food as a dehydrated blend of lentils, soy protein, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables.

Rachel Chapman, a sophomore at Brenau University, accompanied Kasha and the other missionaries on both trips in order to address the food and water shortages in the Dominican Republic. “When we got to the village the thing that was very interesting to me was that the people there were afraid of the rain and rainwater because of the storms they had experienced,” Chapman said. “I found it really ironic that water…the one thing needed to survive was the thing they were most scared of.”

“The villagers drank from a stone trough about 8 foot long and 4 foot deep,” according to Chapman. “There was a nasty lime green film covering the water and when you looked into the trough you could see the growth in the walls.” SERV brought water filters in hopes of providing the villagers with clean water. Chapman added that one water filter will last a family in the Dominican Republic for five years.

Kasha and Chapman will both return to the Dominican Republic in the future to continue giving out food to families and treating filthy water for those that have been affected by destructive natural disasters.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

Education in Dominican RepublicGirls’ education in the Dominican Republic is faced with many challenges. The Dominican Republic has one of the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in Latin America. For every 1,000 pregnancies, 90 are by teenage girls. Twenty-five percent of female teens in the Dominican Republic are likely to become pregnant. Regionally, only Nicaragua at 28 percent and Honduras at 26 percent have higher rates of teen pregnancy.

Healthwise, younger women may not be physically developed enough for the stress the body endures during pregnancy and birth. Socially, teens are typically not mature enough to handle the stresses and responsibilities of becoming a parent. According to many studies, teen brains are just not grown up yet.

Furthermore, teen pregnancies compromise education and lead to higher rates of dropping out of school. Financially, teens are usually unable to provide much or anything for their family, possibly creating or extending a vicious cycle of poverty for themselves and their children.

Many organizations recognize the complex issue of adolescent pregnancies and are taking steps to help empower women through education, vocational training and proper medical care and treatment for women/girls and child. Here are just four among them:

  1. The Mariposa DR Foundation: This organization’s top priority is girls’ education in the Dominican Republic. It seeks to minimize the gender gap and generational poverty through the education and empowerment of young girls. The organization assists in funding the education, health and empowerment of a girl, as “she will reinvest 90 percent of her income back into her family and her community, making her the most influential figure in today’s world.”
  2. Sister Island Project: This organization’s mission is to foster “community empowerment, cultural exchange, diversity and equity awareness,” particularly in the Dominican Republic. The Sister Island Project has also built houses for community members, given scholarships to university students, coordinated micro-enterprise projects and distributed many donations.
  3. The DREAM Project: This organization was founded to make up for the lack of resources in Dominican Republic schools. The organization supports quality education for more than 7,500 children with 14 programs implemented across 27 communities in the nation.
  4. World Bank Dominican Republic Youth Development Program: Its mission is to “[improve] the employability of poor, at-risk youth by building their work experience and life skills and expanding second chance education programs to complete their formal education.”

World Bank senior director for education Jaime Saavedra says that “the Dominican Republic is facing a great opportunity to improve the education system and tackle the challenge of the global learning crisis. Improving the quality of education is a fundamental condition for expanding opportunities for all.” The World Bank currently supports the education sector in the Dominican Republic with a total investment of $49.9 million.

Over the years, the Dominican Republic has been a great trading partner for the United States. It supplies the country with medical appliances, electric components, textiles, minerals, tobacco and produce. Many U.S. citizens are also retiring there now. The country as a whole has seen economic improvements but is still facing many educational and economic pitfalls.

Girls’ education in the Dominican Republic is of great importance to each of these organizations. Their work and the work of others like them is providing the country with a much-needed boost and giving girls a much greater chance of success.

– Jonathan Jimenez
Photo: Flickr

Facing Challenges for Women in the Dominican RepublicIn recent years, the Dominican Republic has transitioned from an agro-industrial economy to a service economy. With this transition has come many changes for the nation, primarily economic changes. The Dominican Republic has experienced significant economic growth due to this transition, which can be seen in its 4.7 percent growth rate between 2004 and 2012. Due to this growth, the Dominican Republic is now classified as a middle-income country, as opposed to a low-income country.

Despite the recent economic success of the country, the Dominican Republic is still facing many obstacles and challenges. Specifically, challenges for women in the Dominican Republic are especially prevalent. Though the economy has grown, so have crimes against women. Reported domestic violence and femicide cases have continued to increase in recent years.

Challenges for women in the Dominican Republic include the basic challenge of surviving. The Dominican Republic has the third highest rate of femicide in its region, and currently, femicide is the primary cause of death for women of reproductive age in the nation. In addition to femicide, gender-based violence has continued to rise in the Dominican Republic.

With gender violence rising, the need for assistance for survivors has risen as well. This need is one that is not being met currently. The Dominican Republic lacks adequate sanctuaries and care centers for the number of abused women and their children in the nation.

In response to these challenges for women in the Dominican Republic, the government has made constitutional amendments that are intended to help the advancement of gender equality in the nation. These amendments include a declaration that the state should promote equal rights for men and women, places an importance upon domestic work and condemns domestic and gender-based violence. In addition to these constitutional amendments, the government has also created the National Plan for Gender Equality, which makes up one of the four pillars of the country’s National Development Strategy.

Though these governmental and legislative actions have not been enough to decrease the amount of violence against women in the Dominican Republic yet, they are important first steps. With these pillars in place and the recent economic growth, the government now has the opportunity to allocate more funding for women’s programs moving forward.

Though the government still needs to make improvements to the amount of funding given to these programs, the problem has finally been recognized. In 2014, an Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, Mildred Guzmán, told the United Nations Third Committee, “As a country concerned about the issues related to women, and as a tireless actor in the long struggle for their advancement and accomplishments, we wish to reiterate the political will of the Dominican Republic for full, inclusive and participatory citizenship. Recognizing that violence against women is an obstacle for the fulfillment of all human rights and in consequence, in the entire citizenship.”

This statement holds hope for the future of women in the Dominican Republic, and now it is up to the government to fulfill this hope.

– Nicole Stout

Photo: Flickr