Sustainable Agriculture in Jamaica
Sustainable agriculture in Jamaica is a practice that the country is committed to improving. The country’s vulnerability to extreme weather emphasizes the importance of smart agricultural practices.

Long-Term Strategies

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has implemented strategies to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Portfolio Minister, Derrick Kellier, made a speech in preparation of the Vision 2030 Medium Term Policy. He said these strategies will contribute to the country’s GDP, and fulfill the mission statement “to advance the development of a modern, efficient and internationally competitive agricultural sector, and the sustainable management of our fishery resources, in order to promote food security and food safety in an effort to contribute to the development and well-being of our people.”

The strategies include the:

  • establishment of nine agro-parks;
  • farm road rehabilitation plan through the sugar transformation program;
  • implementation of an aquaculture development plan;
  • completion of the European Union Banana Support Program;
  • promotion and use of the farmer field school methodology in extension services;
  • training in proper land husbandry techniques; and
  • building climate resilience of the agricultural sector through the provision of water harvesting and irrigation infrastructure.

The Jamaican Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program

Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) established the Jamaican Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program in 2014 to help the agriculture industry in Jamaica. The goal of the program is to assist the building of local, ecologically based, disaster resistant organic food systems through technology transfer and management expertise that links farmers to markets. Additionally, the initiative aims to develop market-driven organic value chain production, certification and distribution systems for agricultural products that will sustainably reduce food insecurity and poverty.

The program also assists smallholder farmers through technical training covering three areas:

  1. Improving agricultural and agribusiness operations, inputs, organic agricultural extension, marketing and innovative farm credit approaches.
  2. Supporting Jamaican local food security and resiliency projects by providing rural and urban educational programs and technical support in organic farming and gardening, community gardening and Permaculture land management practices.
  3. As the southeastern U.S. shares similar climate conditions with the Carribean, the program will source volunteers by tapping into these successful organic and Permaculture communities, fostering a strong cultural and economic links between these two regions. Indeed, the Caribbean is prone to disaster at a much more common rate because of its geographical location located in the harsh waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Over the past 60 years, the Caribbean countries have suffered over 180 natural disasters, primarily hurricanes and floods. Jamaica has one of the highest rates of hurricanes out of all of the Caribbean Islands, with over a 10 percent chance for a hurricane to strike annually.

Collaboration Fosters Growth

The vulnerability to natural disasters makes it crucial for farmers to be monitored and to work together. A program that has helped agriculture, as well as the safety of farming groups is the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM). The initiative has untied 10 coffee farmers in Jamaica, with a combined land total of over 200 acres. The advantages of the program include joint marketing efforts, pooling resources and sharing solutions for agricultural production.

Sustainable agriculture in Jamaica has aided the industry of farming. Organizational efforts to improve the sector, despite the vulnerabilities the country faces, must continue in order for Jamaica to flourish.

Casey Geier
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Fact About Girls’ Education in Jamaica
Jamaica has a history, like many countries in the world, of oppressing women. One major issue of gender equality involves access to adequate education. Girls’ education in this country was only recently established, especially compared to boys’ education, but focus on closing this gender gap creates improvements. In the text below, top 10 facts about girls’ education in Jamaica are presented.

Top 10 Fact About Girls’ Education in Jamaica

  1. Girls’ education in Jamaica only involved home economics and some other basic classes up until around 1944. With the implementation of The Kandel Report and the associated Plan for Post-Primary Education, universal literary core for both boys and girls was established.
  2. Today, women are dominating school enrollment, closing the gender gap in education. According to a News America Now article, out of the total population of 2.7 in Jamaica, around 40 percent of women go into tertiary education. That’s 2.29 times more than the number of men going to universities and colleges.
  3. According to the Jamaica Observer, despite the non-existent gender gap in education and the fact the women are more educated than men in Jamaica, women still earn much less in the workforce.
  4. Women are more likely to do unpaid household labor, have less say in decision-making, and less access to resources. This fact is reflected in a 2017 study that found that women’s income in Jamaica is 39 percent lower than men’s.
  5. Further globalization can help close this gender disparity in income among educated men and women by connecting women to more business and economic opportunities.
  6. Apart from gender parity education enrollment, a pressing issue for girls’ education in Jamaica revolves around teenage pregnancy, mostly due to poverty, limited reproductive health care and sexual abuse. According to Brookings, Jamaica’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than the global average, with 59 out of 1,000 adolescent girls becoming pregnant.
  7. The education policy states that pregnant teens must be dismissed from school until they are allowed to re-enroll once they have the baby. This deprives teen mothers of the education they need and often discourages them to go back.
  8. In an attempt to establish inclusive education for all, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information implemented the National Policy for the Reintegration of School-Age Mothers into the Formal School System in 2013. The policy was a significant step toward ensuring that young mothers return to school and complete an education, thus improving their chances to provide for themselves and their children.
  9. Upon returning to school, there is often a huge lack of support and counseling for teenage mothers. The policy must focus on more care for mothers returning to school to improve enrollment rates and prevent discrimination that diverts many teen mothers from returning to school.
  10. The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation works to ensure that teen mothers return to school by providing counseling, maternal support, skills training for those unable to return to school, and early interventions providing resources to prevent early unwanted pregnancies.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Jamaica can help communities improve gender equality even further. The education system for girls has come a long way, but there are still many ways to improve teen mothers access to education and closing the gender gap within jobs after school.

With programs such as The Ministry of Education and The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, more girls are able to gain access to quality education. Integrating more globalization and evaluating women’s income will also help Jamaica reach gender equality in the education-career aspect, as these top 10 facts about girls’ education in Jamaica show.

– Anna Power
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Jamaica
Jamaica, the fourth largest island country in the Caribbean, is hungry. The root of hunger is based on inequality and racism. Grassroots projects and programs are developed to alleviate an empty tummy. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Jamaica:

  1. Jamaica is highly focused on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially the ones that address the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger across the globe. After the devastating global recession, Jamaica is keen that their strategies for poverty reduction are financially supported.
  2. Jamaica is not all poverty yet lines of marginalization are obvious. Not far from the country’s wealthy communities live the Jamaicans that have limited access to clean water, food supply, health care and education.
  3. Hunger in Jamaica is largely a reflection of racial inequality. With a heritage rooted in slavery, descendants of black slaves hold a much larger probability of residing amongst the poorest classes of Jamaica. Meanwhile, descendants of the white race and mixed-race plantation owners tend to be much better off.
  4. Most Jamaicans in poverty spend more than half of their income on food. Due to Jamaica’s extreme inflation and reliance on imports, hunger in Jamaica is greatly exacerbated. Despite governmental food subsidy programs, Jamaica’s poor have to spend a large portion of their small incomes on the basics just to survive.
  5. The main cause of nutritional problems in Jamaica still appears to be the lack of economic access to food. With almost 20 percent of the national population living below the poverty line (and many additionally living in rural lands, an unfortunate compounding factor), access to socio-economic infrastructures is nearly impossible.
  6. The rural land doesn’t encapsulate all of Jamaica’s poverty, as high levels of malnutrition in the cities have been observed as well. The urban sectors exemplify an unfortunately high level of unemployment and a decreasing percentage of mothers that are breastfeeding their newborns, ultimately depriving young children of essential nutrients.
  7. Teachers and school staff in Jamaica see hunger as a painful challenge in the everyday lives of students. Inattentive, moody and exhibiting behavioral problems, hungry children struggle to reap the benefits of their education due to malnutrition.
  8. Food For The Poor, a charity organization, is spearheading self-sustaining agriculture projects at schools in order to provide healthy foods for daily meals and combat hunger in Jamaica. At-risk students gain hands-on experience in agriculture and learn methods of self-sustainability. School staff notes that the rate of student attendance has greatly improved as a result of these projects.
  9. The National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy is an advancement introduced to reduce rates of morbidity and mortality among children. In a nutshell, the policy advocates for the promotion of both breastfeeding and adequate weaning practices. From ages six months to two years old, the policy seeks to encourage breastfeeding and, subsequently, adequate solid foods. According to both the WHO and UNICEF, the mental development of children who are exclusively breastfed is better than those who are not.
  10. Executed by an NGO, The Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) focuses on providing child-rearing knowledge and practices to parents of children younger than four. Through home visits with trained personnel, families are given ideas for income-generating activities and are provided a heavy focus on the health and nutrition of the children.

The above-mentioned facts about hunger in Jamaica reflect the need for a global shift in the widening gap of global income inequality. To be hungry and experience malnutrition is largely a result of lacking an adequate income to feed a household as well as little to no access to healthy and nourishing foods. Luckily, the presence of grassroots programs and education are turning the tides and allowing for a self-sustainable community, and these facts are just the beginning of instilling awareness among the masses.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Pixabay

Corruption in Jamaica
Jamaica has improved 15 spots in the world corruption rankings, now ranking as the 68th least corrupt country out of the 180 polled. Despite this progress, corruption in Jamaica remains entrenched and widespread, and its effects still drive poverty and crime in what is one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the Americas.

According to Transparency International’s 2017 Index, Jamaica received a score of 44, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. Although the jump in rankings is a positive sign, a score of 44 is still worrisome. The organization notes that any score under 50 indicates “prevalent bribery, a lack of punishment for corruption, and public institutions that do not respond to the needs of citizens.”

Also disheartening is the view Jamaicans themselves have on corruption within their country. According to the 2017 Global Corruption Barometer, which measures respondents’ perception of corruption within their own country, 51 percent of Jamaicans believed that most or all of the police were corrupt, with a further 37 percent believing that most (or all) of their representatives in Parliament were corrupt.

Corruption Costs

Both real and perceived corruption has far-reaching consequences for poverty, especially in developing countries. In Jamaica, where social infrastructure is already lacking, corruption diminishes quality of life by redirecting vital funding away from critical infrastructure such as healthcare, education, water, roads and electricity.

The money instead goes into private pockets, which results in an underfunded and underperforming government. This type of leadership then inadequately provides protection, jobs and basic services to its citizens.

Equally important are the effects of perceived corruption in Jamaica, where 68 percent of people believe corruption is increasing. This perception of a corrupt government is detrimental in that it discourages participation within the legal framework of society.

In the midst of an unfair system and a government which does not provide basic services for its people, many turn to extralegal groups for protection and livelihood. The result of such decisions are the high levels of murder and organized crime seen in Jamaica today.

Corruption and Poverty

Aside from the effects of corruption on the everyday life of Jamaicans, corruption also affects the economy as a whole. There is a universal trend of reduced foreign investment, lack of development and inefficient allocation of resources in corrupt nations.

The World Bank also notes that “the average income in countries with a high level of corruption is about a third of that of countries with a low level of corruption.” In Jamaica, this means corruption categorically lowers the quality of life for the vast majority of Jamaicans.

Positive Signs

Despite endemic corruption’s continued presence, there are indications that Jamaica is heading in the right direction. According to Transparency International, corruption in Jamaica has been decreasing, evidenced by its improved rank in the global corruption indexes.

Additionally, Jamaican leadership has begun to take an interest in anti-corruption, and has acknowledged that sustained economic growth is impossible without combating corruption. The Integrity Commission Bill in July 2017, passed by the Jamaican Senate, was an important step in the right direction. The act set in motion the establishment of an independent anti corruption unit tasked with uncovering and prosecuting corruption in Jamaica.

What Can Be Done

In its recommendations on curbing corruption, Transparency International notes five important areas in which the Jamaican government can improve:

  1. Encouraging free speech and an independent media.
  2. Minimizing regulations on media and ensuring journalists can work without fear of repression or violence.
  3. Promoting laws that focus on access to information to engender transparency.
  4. Advocating for reforms at the national and global level which push for access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.
  5. Disclosing relevant public interest information including government budgets and political party finances.

Transparency International also notes the important role that everyday people can play in the fight against corruption. In fact, Jamaicans overwhelmingly believe in their own ability to fight corruption, with 73 percent of the population believing they can make a difference. Transparency International gives these suggestions for those trying to take up the fight against corruption.

  1. Say no to paying bribes.
  2. Report incidents of corruption to the authorities. When there are no trustworthy authorities, report the incident to Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers (located in over 90 countries).
  3. Join an Anti-Corruption organization.
  4. Take part in a peaceful protest.
  5. Pay more to buy goods and services from a corruption-free company.
  6. Spread the word about corruption through social media.

Although Jamaicans still face an uphill battle in the fight against corruption in Jamaica, the message from Transparency International is very positive. By making anti-corruption a priority, Jamaicans can bring corruption to the curb, and alleviate much of the poverty and social ills that corruption perpetuates.

– Taylor Pace
Photo: Flickr

Education in JamaicaJamaica is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and sits just 90 miles south of Cuba. The country gained full independence in the summer of 1962 from the United Kingdom. It remains part of the British Commonwealth, and as a result, Jamaica makes up the third-most populous English-speaking country in the Americas. Within the last year, education in Jamaica has seen great improvements. Yet, these changes came with years of challenges that have been difficult to overcome. The Education Ministry of Jamaica has become an icon for other Caribbean nations with similar histories, wishing to improve their education systems. Here are five significant facts about education in Jamaica.

Education: A Tool to Weaken Segregation

With the abolition of slavery in 1834, the British viewed education as a tool to integrate ex-slaves into the colonial economy. The British believed that integrating ex-slaves into the economy would result in a peaceful lower class.

By the 1860s, the British relied less on missionary schools, and instead, education in Jamaica was absorbed into the sponsorship of the colonial government. As time went on, separate educational tracks for boys and girls were established by the Lumb Report of 1898. Boys would focus on agricultural training which is a method believed to better control the colonial economy.

To encourage secondary education, elementary schools held annual scholarship questionnaires to allow those unable to afford school fees to attain a higher education. Between 1943 and 1944, the Kandel Report and the Plan for Post-Primary Education in Jamaica concentrated on alleviating the problems of harsh segregation through quality post-primary education. The report and plan resulted in creating a common literacy core for girls and boys.

Inadequate Primary Schools

Grades one to six educate students ranging from the ages of six to 11. Primary education in Jamaica has accomplished universal enrollment yet there are still many challenges that the education system faces.

In elementary school, private and public schools offer very different educational outcomes. Those who attend private schools are often at an extreme advantage while those attending public schools may leave after six years, never fully learning how to read and write. The factors that create this disparity include:

  • class sizes
  • language of instruction
  • the class origins of the teachers.

By the end of grade six, however, every student must take the Grade Six Achievement Examination (GSAT).

Low Academic Achievement

About 99.7 percent of students in Jamaica have access to primary education, and another 83 percent have access to secondary education. Although the access to education is relatively high, academic success is lacking. In 2009, UNICEF concluded that by grade one, no more than 24 percent of six-year-old children going into primary school could master the five sub-tests of the assessment.

By grade four, 70 percent gained mastery of the literacy test. Studies concluded that girls had mastered the literacy test at 81 percent. Boys, on the other hand, had only mastered the test at 59 percent. The numeracy test had even more crippling results. Only 45 percent of students showed mastery. The boys made up 36 percent, behind their female classmates that amounted to 55 percent.

Work To Increase the Quality of Education

Education in Jamaica is on the way towards change. The nation has developed goals to empower Jamaicans by providing quality education. The Ministry of Education launched the Education System Transformation Program (ETSP) in 2009 with the ambitious goal of improving education through a decentralized accountability framework.

A network of institutions is working together to improve the education for every student. The World Bank reported that 90 percent of public schools inspected are prepared to implement the coming plans. Furthermore, 95 percent of all teachers have met all requirements to be registered. The successes of the program resulted in other Caribbean countries approaching Jamaica’s Ministry of Education for help in implementing a similar strategy.

GSAT Performance Has Increased in 2018

The year 2018 has already been very successful for education in Jamaica. The Education ministry reported in June about the extraordinary improvement in the GSAT performance. Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, says that an overall increase in four of the five subject areas tested have seen great improvement. Furthermore, 100 percent of the students who registered for the examinations will be placed in seven-year high schools. This historic school year in Jamaica shows great promise for future generations.

– Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Jamaica
Even though Jamaica is now a predominately middle-class nation, poverty still resides in the more rural areas of the country where crime, lack of education, unemployment and natural disasters are common. As a way to combat these issues, the Wesley Foundation sends missionaries to alleviate poverty and make an easier life for civilians.

Why is There Poverty in Jamaica?

There are 14,000 Jamaican citizens living in extreme poverty, and in 2015, it was estimated that the unemployment rate in Jamaica was 13.5 percent. Unemployment runs high throughout the country, with some of the only jobs available being farming, fishing and tourism-based positions — the latter of which bringing in the most income.

Poverty also stems from high youth crime rates. Children living in poverty in Jamaica are often orphaned, a status which makes them targets for gangs and street violence. Jamaican children also face unequal opportunities in receiving secondary education. The high cost of secondary education makes a lot of children living in rural areas of the country unable to attend school, especially paired with the region’s frequent lack of adequate school supplies and teachers. These occurrences make it even more difficult for children living in poverty in Jamaica to receive a proper education.

According to The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, Jamaica is the third most unprotected country from natural disasters in the world. The country is affected by hurricanes, flooding, landslides and earthquakes. The development of towns in environmentally sensitive lands has increased with the growth of population and urban poverty, which makes an even larger number of people affected by natural disasters.

What is the Wesley Foundation Doing?

In an interview with University of Georgia student, Madison Fields, she recounts how she spent her sophomore spring break with the Wesley Foundation helping fight poverty in Jamaica in March 2018. The Wesley Foundation is an Christian organization that helps mold college-aged students to become closer to Christ through their efforts on different college campuses.

Fields and the other missionaries spent their time in Mandeville, Jamaica where they built sidewalks for students and teachers at Youth With a Mission (YWAM). YWAM is a Christian-based organization that provides learning facilities for children in different parts of the globe.

A Foundation of Sustainable Solutions

Fields said that the YWAM school in Mandeville is located at the base of a mountain — a spot where heavy rain runoff collects and causes major flooding, and students and teachers were often injured from walking to school in the deluged grass. To solve this issue, Fields and the other missionaries dug up the grass, mixed concrete with shovels and carried buckets of mixed concrete and water up a hill to where the school is. “The sidewalks definitely helped the teachers and kids walking from building to building,” Fields said. “It helps especially when it rains because it provided a sturdy area for them to walk on that doesn’t get washed away.”

The Wesley Foundation also helped subside poverty in Jamaica by contributing to “Homes for Help” — volunteers built a home for a single mother and her children, and renovated the roof of a school to withstand tropical storms. “The base was a concrete slab they originally had to put their pigs in but we used it to build the house,” Fields said. “And then at a school, we painted the roof with roof compound to keep it from weathering too bad and make it last longer.”

Through sustainable efforts such as these, the Wesley Foundation should continue to pave the way in creating positive global impact.

– McKenzie Hamby

Photo: Pixabay

poverty reduction in Jamaica
The poverty rate in Jamaica has declined dramatically between 2015 and 2016, marking the largest annual decrease in poverty in a decade. Job creation and government policies have allowed for significant poverty reduction in Jamaica.

The Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, reported that the poverty rate fell 4 percent in 2015-2016, dropping from 21.1 percent to 17.1 percent. This is a six-year low for the nation and representative of a larger trend. Poverty levels in Jamaica have fallen to their lowest since 2009, for a total drop of 19 percent.

These figures, delivered by the Minister of Finance and Public Service in a public statement, came from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, which is a survey conducted annually by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.

Both Rural and Urban Areas of Jamaica Seeing Poverty Decreases

Not only has the national level declined, rural and metropolitan areas are also seeing significant poverty reduction in Jamaica. Rural poverty has seen an 8 percent decrease in poverty to 20 percent, while the poverty rate in the Kingston metropolitan area has hit an eight-year low, dropping 2.5 percent to 11.9 percent.

It is important to note that not all towns have seen a decrease in poverty rates, indicating that it is an unbalanced decline, which could point to the need for policies that target all vulnerable groups in the nation. While it is good news that the rates are decreasing, there is still room for improvement.

Causes of the Decline

According to Clarke, unemployment rates are one of the key areas that have prompted the decline in poverty rates. He states that “the unemployment rate has been falling steadily from a high mid-teens in 2013 to 9.6 percent in January 2018.” The Jamaican government has focused on job creation, which is helping spur poverty reduction in Jamaica.

There has also been a 12 percent increase in agricultural output, which brings in money to the economy and creates jobs.

The Future of Poverty Reduction in Jamaica

The Planning Institute of Jamaica is expecting the poverty decline identified in the last decade to continue. This is based both on government policies and increased job creation, said the Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Wayne Henry.

It is expected that job creation in the wholesale, retail trade, construction, hotel and restaurant industries will continue into the future. These industries have seen large increases in the past few years. For example, the wholesale and retail trade industry was up 7,900 persons, and construction was up 7,300 persons in 2015-2016.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica has also said that they will keep an eye on the Poverty Reduction Policy that was launched by the Jamaican government this year to see how it impacts poverty reduction in the nation.

Other institutions are also contributing to poverty reduction efforts in Jamaica that promise further reduction in the future. The Caribbean Development Bank pledged $1 million to renew its program helping countries in the region support poverty reduction efforts.

Huge strides have been made in poverty reduction in Jamaica, and through policy and job creation, the trend will likely continue.

– Katherine Kirker
Photo: Flickr

The media misrepresents Jamaica in a variety of ways. It portrays Jamaica as a population full of recreational drug users and criminals. It also depicts a land full of tourist scams and impoverished people struggling to survive.

Misrepresentation #1: Everyone in Jamaica smokes marijuana

The TNI Drugs and Democracy Programme reported in a survey taken by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), 60 percent of the Jamaican population smokes marijuana and uses tobacco and alcohol. The Jamaica Constabulary Force stated only nine percent of Jamaican’s use cannabis.

Marijuana use in Jamaica has been tied to the Rastafarian religion. Most Rastafarians consume it as part of spiritual rituals. However, not everyone in Jamaica is a Rastafarian and not everyone in Jamaica smokes or participates in the sale of marijuana. In fact, up until 2015 when lawmakers in Jamaica decriminalized it, selling and using marijuana was illegal for over 100 years.

Influenced by the U.S., Jamaica is set to become part of the legalized marijuana market, which will create income for its local farmers and change how the media misrepresents Jamaica.

Misrepresentation #2: Locals and tourists don’t mix

While tourist scams are real in Jamaica, tourism in the country is still at an all-time high. Tourism brought in earnings of more than $2.5 billion in 2016 from nearly 4 million visitors. The booming tourism industry can benefit both the locals and the tourists.

Jamaicans can set up shops for dining and shopping near tourist-heavy areas and the visitors can experience the local culture and interact with the locals. There is even a program in place called Meet the People that matches locals with tourists to spend time together based on similar interests.

Misrepresentation #3: Poverty is crippling Jamaica

More than 400,000 people in Jamaica live in poverty and 14,000 live in extreme poverty. That’s close to 15 percent of the country’s population who don’t have access to a decent way of survival. Although the percentage is not uplifting, it is far from the worst across all countries. Out of 164 countries, Jamaica ranks 119th on a scale of the percent of the population living below the poverty line. In comparison, the U.S. is ranked 126th.

Jamaica’s poverty concerns have to do with the country’s struggle to keep a consistent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate. Jamaica’s GDP growth rate has fluctuated between .5 percent to 1.4 percent within the last few years, creating challenges for the poor. However, the growth rate is expected to rise significantly in 2018, creating a steady decline in the poverty rate through 2020.

Although some facts about Jamaica can’t be overlooked, grave information attached to those facts and how the media misrepresents Jamaica are skewed. Jamaica has grown into a thriving, middle-income country.

– Naomi C. Kellogg

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to JamaicaJamaica faces many economic struggles and is often in need of foreign aid. For the past five years, the U.S. has been the biggest provider of foreign aid and investment in the country. The aid is valuable for both countries as the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica in many ways.

Tourism

Although a popular destination for travelers, Jamaica faces many economic issues, including high unemployment rates, crime and corruption. The country is also prone to natural disasters. Although tourism helps support the economy of Jamaica, it is not enough to sustain it.

Jamaica believes that foreign aid and investment is a key aspect of growing its economy and has made governmental reforms to better accept and use these funds. This makes the funding process easier for countries like the U.S. and provides greater assurance that the funds will be allocated and implemented properly.

The way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica far outweighs the risk of investing in the county. Jamaica is a major economic partner to the U.S. The country is already a major tourist destination with developed infrastructure. Jamaica’s infrastructure boasts world-class transportation on land, air and sea, as well as a developed telecommunications system.

Funding toward the tourism sector would only strengthen it further, improving Jamaica’s economy. This, in turn, would help provide for Jamaica’s funders. This includes the countries that directly fund it through foreign aid, as well as those investing privately through businesses. These businesses include tourism but also focus on a variety of other fields such agribusiness, mining, energy and manufacturing.

Investing in Business

There are many ways in which Jamaica has made investing more accessible to countries like the U.S. and helped to ensure that both countries benefit as much as they can from it. One example is the improvement of credit access, which makes the starting of a business more accessible in consideration of price, especially for the electricity sector. It also affects how businesses are taxed and generally start-ups have a lower tax. Improved credit access provides the opportunity for more businesses to be formed and for more investments to be made toward them.

Democratic Ally

Another way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica is through similar political interests. The government of Jamaica is already a prime example of democracy, having elections every five years. Continuing aid and investment in the country will only help improve it. Jamaica is a democratic ally to the U.S., which not only benefits both countries politically but also economically. As aid continues to grow and both countries benefit from one another, this will serve to further an alliance between them.

There are many ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica, which is an incredibly beneficial country to invest in. Not only has government reform made it easy to fund and aid the country but also provides many ways for businesses and their investors to flourish. Jamaica is a strong economic benefit and ally to the U.S., as well as a great representative of democracy. A partnership and alliance will continue to grow between the two countries with the continued support of the U.S.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to JamaicaDespite its upper middle-income status, Jamaica is one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world. With high public debt and many external shocks, limited energy access and the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters like hurricanes and floods, Jamaica has a lot to improve in order to eliminate poverty and fast-track its economic growth. Successful humanitarian aid to Jamaica has addressed many of the concerning issues that will help the island move in the right direction.

A serious economic restriction for Caribbean island nations such as Jamaica is a lack of energy security. Jamaica relies on imported oil and even though prices have gone down in recent years, electricity prices are still among the highest in the Western hemisphere. Outdated power grid infrastructure, underutilized renewable energy resources and unmet potential of energy efficiency are just a few of the problems created by this energy deficient.

The USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Program is a five-year development project aimed at promoting investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency for the future. Through regional partnerships, this humanitarian aid to Jamaica works to optimize variable renewable energy integration, work with private sectors to drive investments in clean energy development and improve the environment for clean energy advancement.

Upgrading infrastructure, especially in urban areas, can mean a world of difference in enhancing community safety. The Jamaica Integrated Community Development Project helps economically and socially vulnerable communities by improving basic services like waste management, street lighting, paved roads and drainage, as well as introducing violence interrupters and school-based violence prevention. Created by a partnership with the government of Jamaica and the World Bank, this humanitarian aid to Jamaica strives to end the violence and danger that has grown as youth unemployment levels have risen.

USAID is also involved with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This U.S. government initiative works with civil society organizations to help those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. In Jamaica, there are currently an estimated 29,000 people living with HIV. The goal of the program is to ensure HIV prevention care and treatment are being addressed across the island. Humanitarian aid to Jamaica focusing on health is vital to the country’s goal of becoming a developed nation, as HIV/AIDS is most prevalent among the poor and poverty-stricken.

There is still a lot of improvement that needs to be made in Jamaica in order for it to gain developed country status. However, these humanitarian initiatives show that there is hope and potential for this island nation.

– Kailey Brennan

Photo: Flickr