Poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis has collectively only had 17 reported cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths. However, the pandemic has severely affected the economy because tourism primarily supports it. As of 2019, about 4,000 people were registered as making less than 3,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars a month, making them eligible for government aid. When the government of Saint Kitts and Nevis implemented extensive COVID-19 safety measures, it negatively impacted the tourism sector causing many to fall below the poverty line indicated above. Poverty in Saint Kitts and Nevis remains a major issue, especially during the challenging time of COVID-19. However, there are some measures for poverty eradication in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

In April 2020, the Governor-General of the two islands used his emergency powers to create regulations such as closing all ports and airports, closing non-essential businesses and suspending the liquor license of many businesses. While these extreme measures have kept the island relatively safe from COVID-19, the country and its citizens are in need of economic stimulation.

Massive Economic Stimulation

The country’s government has made the decision to extend its Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) to support poverty eradication in Saint Kitts and Nevis. It instituted the program in 2018 as a monthly, $500 stipend for the country’s poorest citizens. It will give $80 million in aid to those who have suffered financially as a result of the pandemic. It will also allow an additional $40 million to stimulate the economy.

This massive aid program is the largest per capita response to the COVID-19 economic losses so far. Saint Kitts and Nevis is also giving $1,000 in Social Security benefits and increasing the amount of PAP stipends distributed. Lastly, it will suspend water and electricity fees as well as mortgage collections until January 2021 in an effort to support poverty eradication in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Funding COVID-19 Economic Plan

Interestingly, Saint Kitts and Nevis is relying on its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program to fund these COVID-19 relief efforts. This program allows a person to gain a Saint Kitts and Nevis passport by donating or investing in the country’s real estate.

The CBI program makes up 20% to 30% of Saint Kitts’ and Nevis’ income annually. In an effort to entice new donors and investors, the government is offering a COVID-19 discount. Therefore, people wishing to donate have to pay $150,000 and those who wish to make a real estate investment have to pay $200,000.

Additionally, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has become an important contributor to Saint Kitts’ and Nevis’ COVID-19 response efforts. It released an appeal to donors in March 2020 and began accepting financial aid. It has raised $52.7 million of its $94.8 million goals as of June 11, 2020. PAHO has provided equipment, access to health experts and individual safety gear to the two islands.

Re-Opening Borders

The latest Emergency Powers regulations expired on August 9, 2020, but Saint Kitts and Nevis government has yet to announce when its borders will reopen. However, the government worked to ensure that workers in the tourism sector would have the preparation to serve any incoming tourists safely with a training program that ran until August 27, 2020.

The government is also preparing to launch and adopt a contact tracing app. It will be mandatory for all visitors to utilize the app and respect all of the emergency regulations that are in effect. Additionally, it will provide health updates and uses geofencing technology to alert users when they enter certain boundaries.

While reopening Saint Kitts and Nevis’ borders is a daunting task, the Premier of Nevis believes that the country needs to find ways to restart its local economy because one can categorize COVID-19 as both a health and economic crisis. The $120 million economic stimulus package the islands are adopting should protect affected citizens from extreme poverty and allow them to survive until the tourism industry can reopen.

Olivia Welsh
Photo: Pixabay

A Look at Human Rights in St. Kitts and NevisSt. Kitts and Nevis is a state comprised of two islands located between the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. Their system of government is a parliamentary democracy. For the most part, human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis are protected and not under threat, but the small island nation has faced several issues.

The national constitution prohibits torture and cruel and unusual punishment, but police in St. Kitts and Nevis can be aggressive. The police do not need a warrant to arrest someone. As a result, citizens will often not report crimes for fear of retribution. The lone prison in the country was built in 1840 and shows wear. It is overcrowded; a facility built for a capacity of 150 inmates currently holds around 270.

Despite this, conditions there are not necessarily inhumane. A U.S. State Departmentt report on human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis states that “prisoners and detainees had reasonable access to visitors, were permitted religious observances and had reasonable access to complaint mechanisms and the ability to request inquiry into conditions. The government investigated and monitored prison conditions, and the prison staff periodically received training in human rights.”

While arrest warrants are not necessary, the constitution does grant accused citizens the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair and public trial. There are no political prisoners in St. Kitts and Nevis.

The United Nations has identified rape and violence against women as an issue regarding human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis. Rape is a criminal offense, but spousal rape is not. Women can file rape claims, but may often be reluctant to do so. St. Kitts and Nevis passed the Domestic Violence Act of 2014 into law to address some of these issues.

Child abuse is a problem in St. Kitts and Nevis. Corporal punishment is legal here. Reports of sexual assault against children are not uncommon, despite such acts carrying a stiff criminal penalty.

The treatment of homosexuality is also a concern regarding human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis. Homosexual acts are still criminalized and carry a certain level of societal stigma. In its review of human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis, the United Nations called for the decriminalization of homosexuality on the islands.

The state of human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis is a mixed bag, but perhaps not an unoptimistic one, nor necessarily uncommon for developing democracies. Many of the human rights issues that do exist stem not from the law but from a failure to effectively implement and enforce it. The country has shown a desire to improve its ways, and time will tell whether or not it successfully follows the U.N.’s recommendations.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in St. Kitts and NevisSt. Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation in the Caribbean that gained independence from England in 1983. Most of the population of 52,000 descended from West African slaves. Additionally, most of the population lives on St. Kitts, which some politicians in Nevis believe neglects the Nevisians in government affairs.

Due to its size, there is limited information regarding hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis. However, the information that is available shows that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is taking action to eradicate hunger.

Of note, the percent of undernourished people in St. Kitts and Nevis stood at 10.2 percent for the period 2011-16, a significant decline from a high of 21.9 percent during 2005-2007. Unfortunately, many individuals who still face hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis may not have the resources to confront illness and may have to risk other aspects of survival or may become dependent on others for their own livelihood.

The government has implemented the Poverty Reduction Strategy that will reform the presence of hunger in St. Kitts and Nevis. Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Agriculture and Social Services, highlighted several of these government initiatives on World Food Day 2015. The government plans to accomplish this strategy by redistributing resources more equitably; strengthening public, private and community organizations; investing in social services and empowering vulnerable groups.

St. Kitts and Nevis has also implemented a safety net program that provides financial or food baskets to poor families. Additionally, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working on an initiative to provide one meal a day to all primary and secondary school children.

Despite the small size of the two islands, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working hard to combat hunger and has many strong initiatives in place to promote a higher standard of living for its citizens.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Flickr

Education in St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis is the first Commonwealth Caribbean country to introduce free universal secondary education. This was implemented after replacing the former education structure inherited from the British colonial period.

The country has an Education Act that addresses the fundamental goal of providing access to quality education for all nationals in institutions that foster economic development and other values of the country’s community. The country also has a number of private institutions that offer paid tuition.

The country has a network of free public schools that provide accessibility and are well-resourced to meet the country’s education needs. While education in St. Kitts and Nevis has seen major improvements, the quality of education is greatly impacted by the low percentage of fully skilled teachers.

While teachers may be scarce in St. Kitts and Nevis, education in the country is not developing due to lack of determination. Education in St. Kitts and Nevis has seen the development of a technical and vocational education and training strategy that promotes employable skills development and entrepreneurship.

The country currently is unable to offer or sustain a tertiary education institution but prepares students to attend university in other parts of the Caribbean as well as other regions. Education in St. Kitts and Nevis focuses mainly on the strengthening of a diverse and broad educational system based on societal need. The country has seen great progress as its current literacy rate stands at ninety percent.

This Commonwealth nation continues to take into consideration its economic trends, educational system, administration and management in the College of Further Education, focusing mainly on The St. Kitts Technical College specializing in technical education.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr