5 Development Projects in Suriname

There are several important development projects in Suriname that are currently taking place to help the country positively progress. The United Nations Development Programme, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Bank all currently have active development projects in Suriname.

Suriname’s economy is dependent on mineral resources such as oil, gold and bauxite as well as natural resources, due to the fact that four-fifths of the country is covered by tropical rainforest. The country as a whole, however, still needs help to keep its economy from faltering and to improve climate control.


The UNDP’s Projects

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is one of the organizations that has implemented different development projects in Suriname to assist in the country’s needs when it comes to climate change. The UNDP currently has three active development projects in Suriname called National REDD+ Strategy, Suriname Global Climate Change Alliance and Strengthening the National Assembly of Suriname.

The National REDD+ Strategy project’s purpose is “to ensure success in continuing to preserve Suriname’s natural capital, enhance the value of forest-related services and benefits for its peoples and contribute to the international fight against climate change and the preservation of healthy ecosystems.”

The Suriname Global Climate Change Alliance project’s purpose is to support Suriname in improving its current climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts by providing more knowledge on the effects of climate change and developing tools that target adaptation measures, as well as strengthen capacities for mangrove conservation.

The Strengthening the National Assembly of Suriname project’s purpose is to provide best practices in parliamentary development, good governance, policy guidance and initiate capacity building initiatives.


The CDB’s Projects

The Electricity System Upgrade and Expansion Project is another development project in Suriname that has been created by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the government of Suriname. The project’s objective is to deliver a more reliable, efficient and sustainable electricity supply in Suriname.

When discussing the importance of the project to Suriname, Vice President of Suriname Ashwin Adhin said, “Our government will leave no stones unturned to achieve the objectives necessary to improve the energy sector. We will do this together with CDB and other important people and institutions.”


The IDB’s Projects

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean, has also partnered with Suriname to create a developmental project to assist the country’s needs. The IDB Group Country Strategy with Suriname 2016-2020 project’s objective is to support Suriname’s economic stabilization.

This project is complemented by a longer-term view on the modernization of the public and private sectors in the country. Reducing subsidies, lowering public spending while protecting the social safety net, strengthening public administration and strengthening human capital are all important parts of the project’s focus.

Development projects in Suriname like the ones these organizations are implementing will continue to help the country of Suriname in its goal to become a thriving country.

– Kennisha L. Crawford

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in surinameSuriname, a small country in South America, has had issues in the recent past with women’s rights. While there has been growth, it has taken many years and it is difficult to continue the changes in the country. Certain actions have been taken by other countries and women’s groups to promote women’s empowerment in Suriname.

Suriname has enacted laws to dismantle inequality. Mostly created during the 21st century, an example is the Penal Code, which, once amended in 2009, penalized rape within marriage. The Law on Combatting Domestic Violence was passed in 2009. It punishes all forms of violence, and has, along with increased awareness, cut instances of domestic violence from 1,769 in 2009 to 1,213 in 2010.

This increased awareness continued in 2015 when Iceland convened with Suriname in January to discuss violence against women. In 2013, the two countries were ranked almost exactly opposite in women’s rights, with Iceland first and Suriname 110th in the world. The conference was the first time the United Nations brought together male leaders of nations to specifically discuss gender equality.

Another program for women’s empowerment in Suriname was an exchange between the South Dakota National Guard and the Suriname Defense Force. In March 2017, there was a three-day conference about Women in Leadership. Four women from Suriname went to South Dakota to learn about support services and the opportunities in which women can serve. By the end of the conference, the women were able to work with foreign partners and share their experiences to gain an understanding of each other’s cultures.

Elsewhere, there is the Ilse Henar Foundation for Women’s Rights in Paramaribo, Suriname. As women tend to have a disadvantageous position in Suriname society, the foundation seeks to eliminate these inequalities. For example, in 2006 they started a project called “Elimination of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace in Suriname.” The NGO helped draft legislation specifically regarding this topic, and it organized vulnerable women’s groups for domestic workers and migrant women workers.

Several agencies and countries are taking a stand for women’s empowerment in Suriname. By addressing gender inequality, it will enable women to improve their social standing while benefiting society as a whole.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Suriname

The smallest country in South America, Suriname is one of the world’s poorest countries, with over 70% of its population living under the poverty line. While the country has seen some economic growth in recent years, its tumultuous political history explains many of the current causes of poverty in Suriname.

Having been a Dutch colony for a number of centuries, Suriname’s relationship with the Netherlands is a complicated one. For a long time after its independence it relied on Dutch aid to propel its economy; however, relations deteriorated in the late 1990s, and in 2014 Suriname was dropped as a recipient of Dutch development aid.

The government of Jules Wijdenbosch ended Suriname’s structural adjustment program in 1996 in an attempt to make taxation more equitable for the country’s large poor population. As a result, tax revenues fell and the government was unable to implement an alternative. Mining, construction and service sectors declined and, combined with increased government spending, a bloated civil service and reduced foreign aid, the country faced a massive fiscal deficit, estimated at around 11% of the GDP. Eventually, this led to a long period of inflation, where consumer prices skyrocketed and it took the average Surinamese citizen more than two years to register a business.

The causes of poverty in Suriname began with Dutch colonization and continue to suffer from structural shortcomings and poor governance, as is common with many postcolonial nations in the global South.

Suriname and the Netherlands maintain a strained relationship after Desi Bouterse’s military government rose to power. He is currently convicted on a number of drug and corruption charges in the Netherlands but was re-elected as the president of Suriname in 2010. Under his regime, the nation’s political climate became saturated with ethnic polarization and corruption.

The economy of Suriname became more diversified and independent once Dutch aid stopped. Bauxite is the primary source of revenue, as well as agricultural exports and oil and gold extraction. These improvements are, in many ways, a double-edged sword, since the environmental fallout of such extraction is incredible. It has also led to a spike in forced child labor, with more children being recruited into the mining industry. Education rates have dropped, health problems and malnutrition have increased and high poverty rates continue to run rampant.

However, almost 80% of Suriname’s landmass is untouched rainforest and protected bioreserves, which have attracted many tourists over the years. With a rise in eco-tourism and diversification of exports, the potential for Suriname’s economy to improve is high. A large number of local and international organizations are working to provide educational services and health facilities, particularly to children in need. A number of groups focus on empowerment and legal advocacy as a way to bring about grassroots change. With an increase in foreign investment and local change to tackle corruption, some of the problems faced by the Surinamese can be addressed.

Paroma Soni

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Suriname Poor? Poor Planning and Unhealthy Dependence.
Suriname, one of the smallest countries in South America, is also one of the poorest. Nearly one out of every two people in Suriname are impoverished. Tucked between Brazil and Guyana and endowed with oil reserves, one may wonder: why is Suriname poor?

The most important answer to this question lies in Suriname’s exports. Economically, Suriname is heavily dependant on exporting commodities, namely oil and gold, for revenue. As market prices fluctuate, so too does Suriname’s economy.

Mining for said commodities is the main source of employment in the nation. Stagnant markets cause production to slow and unemployment to jump. From 2014 to 2015, Suriname’s unemployment rate climbed from 6.9 to 8.9 percent.

The country’s GDP decreased two percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2016—more than eight full quarters of economic contraction. A country is considered to be in a recession after just two.

Oil Dependence
After the crude oil price spikes during the global recession, crude supply increased as North America, and Russia exploited domestic supplies.

The sharp increase in supply, coupled with the plateauing of China’s demand for crude, depressed the global price. This led to a decrease in Suriname’s exports and public revenues. Couple that with the announcement that Alcoa, a major U.S. aluminum company, was ending its operations in Suriname after 100 years of activity—Suriname’s economy entered free fall.

In 2016, Suriname’s GDP plummeted to 2008 levels. In the same period, the U.S. added $4 trillion to its GDP, an average increase of 1.4 percent.

Currency Issues
In response to the recession, Suriname experimented with a number of monetary and fiscal policies. The Suriname dollar was devalued by 20 percent amid the drop in oil prices, was unpegged from the U.S. dollar and, by the end of 2016, had lost more than 46 percent of its total value.

Suriname also implemented austerity policies in last two years to reign in spending and raise revenue. As a result, the Suriname dollar inflated over 50 percent in 2016.

In regards to the question “why is Suriname poor?”, there are a few big takeaways:

  • The drop in global oil prices dealt a major blow to Suriname’s export-driven economy.
  • Suriname’s economy is in a two-year-long contraction. The unemployment and poverty rates have both increased.
  • The Suriname dollar has lost a great deal of value and purchasing power, hurting the country’s less-fortunate.

The short and mid-term economic forecasts for Suriname are bleak, according to economists. Economic contractions are expected to continue throughout 2017. However, the discovery of another offshore oil deposit has given the nation hope. With foreign investment and revenues from another oil project, Suriname might stabilize its economy, which will allow it to restructure to rely less on exports.

Thomas James Anania

Photo: Flickr

How to Help Suriname: Development and IndustrySuriname, the smallest country in Latin America, has had one of the strongest economies in the Caribbean in the last ten years. However, although the economy continued to grow until 2015, the nation has since been hit with a devastating recession. Why? Suriname’s economy has been built on a few key exports (gold, oil, bauxite and alumina) that may be plentiful, but are also unable to withstand shocks to the global system. In other words, if the price of these few items drops, then the economy struggles to withstand the pressure and goes into a recession. Although this seems like a huge problem, and it has been over the last few years, Suriname does have steps it can take to ensure that the economy can better withstand fluctuations in the international market. The first step: taking the economy out of the government’s hands.

Privatizing Industry and Changing Location
Over half of all workers in Suriname are employed by the government, which controls the majority of the industries, from gold mines to oil refineries. In order to diversify the economy and help Suriname, the government must take a step back and allow for privatization. Private industries are more competitive, which usually increases the workers’ salaries and allows for a competitive market, strengthening the economy and making it less prone to shocks. In the wake of the 2009 recession in the United States, private industries were relied upon to bolster the economy and lead it back to pre-recession levels. The recession in Suriname requires the same kind of private industry investment to revitalize the economy.

Another way to help Suriname is to move key industries to safer, less disaster-prone areas. Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean hard, proving harmful to an industry that is already vulnerable to flooding. Due to these flood risks, if Suriname does not endeavor to diversify industry, they should at least try to create new mines in higher elevation areas less prone to flooding. Gold mining is one of the major industries that the government is constantly expanding, and considering how valuable even a small amount of gold can be, this industry should be protected.

International Cooperation and Investment
Additionally, the government of Suriname has identified Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a way to grow their economy and develop. FDI would provide investment that bolsters several industry sectors, primarily crude oil and mining. One such investment includes $1 billion from the United States that is invested annually. However, the Suriname government worries that this investment agreement will not be honored due to a decline in world market prices for gold. Therefore, the government has examined other options, including increasing investment in oil refining and ethanol production. However, once again, this is a state-owned industry, which means it is more vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Other options as to how to help Suriname on the international front are through support from the international organization ALBA, in which Suriname takes part. ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas) has limited resources, and one of its key members, Venezuela, is on the brink of being a failed state, but it does provide a way to link Central American and Caribbean nations in trade. Ultimately, if ALBA were to gain more support and investment from other trade organizations and Suriname privatizes some of their vulnerable industries, the path of how to help Suriname is relatively straightforward and hopeful.

Rachael Blandau
Photo: Flickr

Suriname Poverty RateThe Suriname poverty rate is 47 percent. It is estimated that more than 6 percent of the population suffers from multidimensional poverty, lacking good health, education and standard of living.

Malnutrition is a rampant problem. Many children are hospitalized for malnutrition and suffer lasting effects that extend into adulthood. In recent years, AIDS has also become one of the primary causes of child mortality.

The education system in Suriname is also wanting. At the same time, as many teachers are poorly trained, many students, mostly boys, leave primary school at an early age. The children that leave school are often forced to work. It is estimated that 8 percent of children between 5 and 14 engage in child labor under difficult working conditions.

As for the girls that are either discouraged from attending school or leave early, many are subjected to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Both inside and outside of prostitution, violent abuse toward children is a rampant problem.

Though the Suriname poverty rate is high, the country’s per capita income is also relatively high, standing at almost $10,000. Inequality between different geographic regions and ethnic groups accounts for the coexistence of the high national income and the high poverty rate.

The Surinamese economy relies on the extraction and exportation of minerals such as alumina, bauxite, gold and oil. While the production of such commodities employs hundreds of thousands of Surinamese and has at times accounted for almost 40 percent of government revenues, the production of these goods is limited to extraction and refinement. As a result, much of the population misses out on economies opportunities.

To lower the Suriname poverty rate, the government should utilize its mineral revenues to subsidize education, health and welfare for the disenfranchised parts of the population. Such measures will serve to increase the value of Suriname’s human capital and work toward diversifying the economy away from commodity exportation.

In addition to actions the Surinamese government can take to reduce poverty in the country, a number of international organizations are already working to improve the Surinamese economy.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), for one, has dedicated millions of dollars in loans and grants under its Low Income Shelter Program (LISP) to provide housing for underprivileged Surinamese. The program has successfully housed more than 3,000 families.

Suriname’s longtime benefactor and ex-colonizer, the Netherlands has also allocated billions of dollars over the past two decades for microcredit lending and infrastructural repair. These efforts have helped facilitate entrepreneurship and stimulate Suriname’s economy from the bottom up.

If these international developmental commitments persist, there may be hope that Suriname can achieve its Multi-Year Development goals, growing small and medium enterprises by 10 percent over the next five years and lifting thousands out of poverty.

Nathaniel Sher

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Suriname

Suriname is a small country on the north coast of South America with a population of nearly 600,000. The country has improved much of its health standards in recent years when it comes to treatable diseases in Suriname.

As the country has grown economically and life expectancy has increased, the threat of diseases such as cardiovascular disease typhoid fever and malaria has been reduced. While the country has made progress, certain diseases in Suriname remain a threat in the form of outbreaks.

Suriname’s most recent disease outbreak was a yellow fever outbreak, the country’s first since 1972. This came as a surprise due to Suriname’s comprehensive vaccination programs, which have required yellow fever vaccines for all children starting at one year old since 2014. In response to the outbreak, the Suriname government enhanced vaccination activity to increase coverage and upgraded entomologic and epidemiologic surveillance by strengthening laboratory capacity.

Vaccination improvements have been one of the main factors reducing the threat of treatable diseases in Suriname in recent years. Today, national immunization coverage up is to 86 percent. Certain high-risk diseases such as Hepatitis B and C have been controlled thanks to the widespread childhood immunization programs.

Suriname also dealt with the outbreak of the Zika virus at the end of 2015, after four initial cases appeared, making them one of the earliest countries hit by the outbreak. Suriname implemented a health emergency risk communication plan to help spread awareness about the disease and contained it successfully. Today, government detection programs and strategies are utilized to reduce the threat of mosquitos, including the widespread use of treated netting.

Malaria treatment is another area which Suriname has seen significant improvement in the last decade. Confirmed malaria cases per 1,000 individuals have decreased drastically since 2005, dropping from 120 cases per 1000 to as few as 20 by 2014. Malaria deaths have also decreased as medical treatment and health infrastructure have improved.

Other diseases in Suriname that have been flagged by the government as recent threats are dengue fever and chikungunya fever. Over 2000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in the last 12 years, though none of them have been fatal. Chikungunya fever, another mosquito-borne illness, broke out in Suriname in 2014 with 17 cases, prompting the CDC to launch preventative efforts to raise awareness against the disease.

While several diseases in Suriname such as yellow fever present a threat to the country’s population, improved healthcare and immunization in the last decades have improved life expectancy in the country. Suriname‘s quality vaccination programs have reduced childhood deaths and will help the country when the next outbreak strikes.

Nicholas Dugan

Suriname RefugeesSuriname is small country on the northeast coast of South America. The following 10 facts about Suriname refugees only begin to touch upon the country’s history of refugees who fled the country for reasons of civil war, and of people from other countries who sought asylum in Suriname in recent years. Now, the country is adopting new practices to reach an international level of refugee acceptance and security.

  1. In 1991, 4,300 Surinamese found safety in refugee camps in the neighboring country of French Guiana, amid a raging four-year domestic civil war led by guerrilla commander Ronny Brunswijk.
  2. The French offered the refugees some financial aid, and planned to close the camps, sending those inside back to Suriname.
  3. Between 2007 and 2014, Suriname saw the number of refugees and stateless persons significantly decrease to the lowest the country had since the civil war.
  4. In 2014, there were a reported 17 outgoing refugees and people in refugee-like situations in Suriname. Only two cases of concern were documented as incoming asylum-seekers.
  5. In 2016, Suriname received 40 applications from Cuban refugees seeking security in the country.
  6. In the same year, 13 Surinamese applied for asylum in the Netherlands and Belgium, with the most successful acceptance rate in the Netherlands.
  7. Asylum-seekers and migrants found Suriname an attractive place of refuge because of its better wages in agricultural work, ease of border crossing, a perception of an accepting population and the prospect of a promising life working in Suriname’s gold mining industry.
  8. The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recognized many positive developments in Suriname. In July 2014, the country passed the Draft Law on Nationality and Residency. The new law gives gender equality to both men and women regarding conferring their nationality, and it also protects people by preventing statelessness from loss of nationality.
  9. UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saw active participation from Suriname in 2013 during the Regional Conference on the Protection of Vulnerable Persons in Mixed Migration Flows: Promoting Cooperation and Identification of Good Practices.
  10. In 2014, the government of Suriname participated in the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Consultation on Mixed Migration and the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons.

Suriname has come a long way since the thousands of refugees seeking shelter elsewhere as the civil war continued. These 10 facts about Suriname refugees show that the country has reduced reason to house stateless persons, and that positive developments and achievements in refugee situations has strengthened its people.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in Suriname
Suriname is a small South American nation with a population of around half a million people that has historically been a victim of chronic hunger and poverty. Once a Dutch colony, the nation’s harsh conditions have led to a large historic migration of Surinamese people to Europe. Today, a large community of Surinamese thrives in Europe. Over the past 15 years or so, hunger in Suriname has decreased at a rapid rate. However, the country still suffers from chronic issues of malnutrition and undernourishment.

At the World Food Summit of 1996, the nation’s former president, Jules Albert Wijdenbosch, spoke. He discussed the dire situation the nation was facing. In his speech before the Summit, he cited a 1995 World Bank Report claiming that approximately 47 percent of the nation’s population lived in poverty and lacked sufficient nutrition. He said that “It is […] both tragic and ironic to stand here and inform this meeting that despite Suriname’s wealth of natural resources and a population of less than 500,000, we are faced with the problem of hunger and poverty.”

In the 20 years since, the condition of hunger in Suriname has greatly improved. In 2015, the country received a hunger-reduction award on behalf of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Suriname received recognition for achieving a Millennium Development Goal. They have halved their proportion of hungry people.

Despite this great improvement, hunger in Suriname is still far from total eradication. In 2016, eight percent of the population is still undernourished, and 8.6% of children under the age of five experience stunting due to malnutrition. Due to the tropical climate, the population of Suriname is also vulnerable to highly infectious diseases. Coupled with limited access to clean water and food, waterborne and vector-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and malaria are very common and a major health issue for the Surinamese population. As shown, the nation still has several issues to tackle to take care of its population, especially the most vulnerable.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in SurinameThe Republic of Suriname, bordered by Guyana and French Guiana, is home to approximately 566,000 people, 47 percent of whom live in poverty. Here are four issues contributing to poverty in Suriname:

  1. Child Labor
    Many children in Suriname are forced to work in order to help their families make ends meet. While the legal working age in Suriname is 14, eight percent of children between the ages of five and 14 are forced into work. The majority work on the streets, which is a safety risk, or in agriculture, handling toxic and dangerous materials. Since these children are working illegally, their wages are unregulated and they are often grossly underpaid.
  2. Health Issues
    The people of Suriname are especially susceptible to major infectious diseases. There are high instances of food or waterborne diseases, such as typhoid fever, and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria. AIDs has also become one of the main causes of death in children under five. Families in poverty struggle to get treatment for these diseases and are thus often impacted the most. Malnutrition is also a concern for many people living in Suriname. Undernourishment affects 8.4 percent of the population.
  3. Disparities Between Rural and Urban Populations
    There are clear differences between the living conditions in urban and rural areas. Only 61.4 percent of rural populations have access to sanitation facilities, while 88.4 percent of the urban population does. The quality of education, which affects future income, also depends on location. Rural areas have poorly trained teachers compared to urban areas, which puts rural children at a disadvantage. The rural Maroon population, for example, has lower educational attainment, higher malnutrition, and less access to resources like electricity, sanitation and healthcare than urban populations. Rural populations’ disadvantages are partly due to the fact that geographic isolation restricts their opportunities to participate in policymaking.
  4. Discrimination
    High rates of discrimination in Suriname have hurt the wellbeing of minority ethnic groups. Compared to majority groups, people in the ethnic minority have limited access to quality education, good healthcare and other public services. Children from minority ethnic groups are also more likely to be forced into labor or sexually exploited as they try to earn money.

While the country is facing difficult issues, there are a number of programs and government efforts in place working to reduce these inequalities and address the health and labor issues that contribute to poverty in Suriname.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr