Dominica is a small island nation located in the Caribbean. With 29% of Dominica’s population below the poverty line, poverty rates have slowly decreased since the early 2000s. Nevertheless, the country continuously faces setbacks that perpetuate the cycle of poverty for its people. Here are the top five reasons why poverty in Dominica has persisted.
5 Reasons Why Poverty in Dominica Has Persisted
- There is a persistent decline in Dominica’s export industry. For more than 50 years, Dominica relied on the banana industry as its primary source of income. However, in the late 1990s, the United States entered a partnership with Latin America as a new source for purchasing bananas. The new Latin banana industry caused overnight turmoil for Dominica, and the country has still not overcome the recession of its banana industry today.
- Dominican opportunities for work are decreasing. The demands are receding due to the diminishing export industry. Today, Dominica’s rates of employment lay between 25% to 30%, yet some experts argue it may be even higher. Dominica’s banana industry used to employ more than 72,000 Dominicans per year. However, with Latin America taking over the banana industry, more than 160,000 Dominicans left their homes in search of occupations abroad, leaving 29% of households in poverty in Dominica.
- Major health concerns threaten Dominica’s population. The HIV epidemic in the Caribbean islands displayed the highest rates in the Western Hemisphere. In Dominica, experts report one out of every 40 adults tests positive for HIV. Due to mismanaged health care systems and no HIV prevention programs, Dominicans end up vulnerable to the disease.
- Trade imbalances cause harsh prices on imported goods for Dominica’s citizens. In 2018, Dominican exports stood at $54.2 million compared to $295 million worth of imports. This trade inequality caused a negative trade balance of $240 million, resulting in increased imported prices for Dominicans.
- Severe weather harms Dominica’s agriculture. The island of Dominica is prone to several natural disasters including hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, more than 90% of the nation’s infrastructure underwent destruction. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) offered a grant for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to Dominica following the disaster. Yet, the country is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.
In 2019, the government of Dominica established specific investment incentives for businesses to relocate to Dominica. The investments encourage both domestic and foreign shareholders, hoping to boost the economy and help lower the rates of poverty in Dominica.
– Kacie Frederick