top 10 facts about living conditions in trinidad and tobago

North of the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is a wondrous country with elements that make the island unique. Living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago are bewildering due to its economic growth and the risks of HIV. There are many factors that affect living conditions on this island that make it whole. These are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Trinidad and Tobago

  1. Trinidad and Tobago is regarded as one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean due to its oil reserves and rich resources which help boost the economy in great ways. It is also regarded as one of the top three wealthiest countries in the Americas because of the amount of oil and gas throughout the island allowing for the economy to thrive and helping people live well throughout the island.
  2. Public healthcare is provided for free for citizens on the island, but there are private healthcare providers that can be paid for if it is affordable. There are numerous healthcare centers established around the island making it easily accessible for the citizens in Trinidad and Tobago.
  3. Although the economy has seen a significant boost since its independence in the 1960s, 26 percent of the population is living in poverty, surviving on less than $2.75 a day.
  4. Education is free to children between the ages of 5 and 16. There are private institutions that citizens can pay for but public education provides children with free transportation, books, and meals while in school giving children the opportunity to learn effectively.
  5. Trinidad and Tobago suffer from an increase in crime rates compared to 2016. There has been a 5.5 percent increase in crime rates, which are mostly violent crimes including murder and robbery.
  6. Trinidad and Tobago have a rich cultural life throughout the island celebrating historical African music, dance and literature.
  7. Housing has become a primary concern throughout the country due to the increasing population throughout the island. Many people struggle to find housing in urban areas due to the increasing shortage of land and high construction costs.
  8. Housing conditions vary throughout the urban and rural areas of Trinidad and Tobago. Families in rural areas usually inhabit wooden huts and have various family types where women are typically the head of the household.
  9. The unemployment rate has reached its lowest in 2015 with a rate of 3.5 percent. It has seen a significant decrease since the 90s where it was 17.2 percent.
  10. HIV has become a prevalent disease affecting a large amount of the population. Nearly 11,000 people are living with HIV but with access to free public health care, nearly 75 percent of the population is receiving treatment for the disease.

Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing great economic growth due to the vast amount of resources and has seen progress regarding education and health care but still see issues regarding diseases, housing and poverty. Although these may be factors that can affect the country negatively, Trinidad and Tobago have the potential to combat these elements to help the country thrive. These are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Elijah Jackson
Photo: Flickr

A small Caribbean nation with less than 1.4 million people, Trinidad and Tobago faces a serious hunger problem that is afflicting its citizens. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly 100,000 people are undernourished, which accounts for nearly 7.5 percent of the nation’s population. The rest of the Caribbean and Latin America has an average undernourishment rate of only 5.5 percent of the population, which signals how serious hunger in Trinidad and Tobago is.

One of the major reasons for the sheer amount of hunger in the nation is how much food it wastes every year. According to the World Bank, Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country per urban capita in the world.

At a conference launching the nonprofit organization Nourish TT, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul reported that the Caribbean and Latin America waste a staggering 78 million tons of food annually, which totals 6 percent of global food production, and Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country in the region.

Fletcher-Paul said: “The FAO estimates that in T&T if we were to reduce the food losses at the retail level, we would have enough food to reduce, by 50 percent, the undernourished people in the country.” That only includes food wasted in retail. If waste from all sources could be eliminated, the FAO calculates, all the undernourished people in Trinidad and Tobago could be fed.

With a GDP per capita in the world’s top 60, Trinidad and Tobago has an economic infrastructure more than capable of feeding its citizens, yet more than one in 10 citizens goes hungry. Organizations such as Nourish TT are doing their best to help eliminate food waste and ensure that hungry people receive the nourishment they need.

Similarly, the United Nations Development Programme has implemented the MDG1 program to help eliminate poverty and hunger in Trinidad and Tobago as well as other nations. Programs like MDG1 identify areas of critical need such as improving education, growing non-fossil fuel industries and helping reform healthcare and workers’ rights. With programs such as these in place to eliminate waste, hunger in Trinidad and Tobago looks to be a problem on its way to ending.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Trinidad and Tobago Poor

The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago lies in the Caribbean Ocean off the coast of Venezuela. Built primarily around the oil and gas industries, Trinidad and Tobago’s economy is one of the strongest in the Caribbean. Despite this, several factors have led to economic stagnation as well as relatively prevalent poverty. So, why is Trinidad and Tobago poor?

A lack of economic diversification and overdependence on petroleum and natural gas are some of the most important factors holding back Trinidad and Tobago’s economy. With oil and gas constituting 80 percent of exports and about 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), the island nation has clearly devoted much of its economy to the sale and manufacturing of these natural resources. This leads to several problems.

Oil and gas prices have been in an overall decline over the past several years, so Trinidad and Tobago’s economy has suffered from job loss, reduced tax revenue and reduced development in human capital. These natural resources are also nonrenewable, meaning that they will eventually run out. Trinidad and Tobago’s government has done little to ensure that the country is ready to expand its economy beyond oil and gas once the underground reserves run dry. The overall lack of a business environment to stimulate entrepreneurs is one of the main answers to the question of why Trinidad and Tobago is poor.

Furthermore, the non-energy areas of the economy remain severely underdeveloped and continue to heavily depend on government subsidies. This lack of economic success in non-energy areas discourages potential foreign investors from investing in Trinidad and Tobago, despite the oil and gas sector’s success. Direct foreign investment is undeniably crucial for a country seeking economic diversification, as the inflow of money can help build a strong foundation for new sectors in the economy.

According to a review conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank focused on public policy, over 20 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s citizens currently live below the poverty line. The report also states that 11 percent of the population is undernourished. These unexpectedly high rates of poverty and malnutrition may be partly due to the considerable gender-wage gap present in Trinidad and Tobago.

A study conducted by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago shows that women, on average, earn a staggering 35.3 percent less than men. While this may be partially due to a large portion of women taking low-income jobs, there is certainly a serious amount of gender-based discrimination in wages. It is easy to fall into complacency after the increase in the average woman’s wage – from $9,000 in 2012 to $12,000 in 2014. Despite this rise in pay, however, the wage gap has only been increasing. The average male wage was $18,000 in 2012, but has disproportionately increased to $30,000 in 2014.

Another issue presented by the gender-wage gap affects families with single parents. In Trinidad and Tobago, the children of single parents are six times more likely to live under the poverty line. With about 75 percent of single families headed by the mother, the issue of the gender-wage gap becomes truly alarming. It is illogical to expect single mothers to not only care for her children but also provide for them if she is working for significantly reduced wages and has no supplemental income.

This economic disparity between men and women has led to efforts in increasing the resources dedicated to educating and training women. With the number of women in the workforce steadily increasing over the past few years, women in Trinidad and Tobago have definitely seen improvements in their social and economic standing. Nevertheless, there is still much progress to be made. Passing legislation to eliminate the wage gap would be a substantial step toward promoting economic success in Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to the inherent benefits of working toward gender equality.

Answering the question “Why is Trinidad and Tobago poor?” requires a more convoluted response than expected. The nation of Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean despite its deeply embedded economic flaws. While the country has made impressive progress by developing social programs to help the vulnerable, nurturing new businesses to encourage private sector growth and eradicating the gender-wage gap must be near the top of Trinidad and Tobago’s priorities for there to be long-term economic improvement.

Akhil Reddy

Photo: Flickr

Help People in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, a country in the Caribbean known for its beauty, vibrancy and historically inclusive nature, is unfortunately also home to many people living in poverty. As of 2013, approximately 35.1 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Such poverty leads almost inevitably to political strife, violence, and, in the specific case of Trinidad and Tobago, the entrance of ISIS into the lives of its citizens. With this in mind, here are a few small ways to help people in Trinidad and Tobago escape this cycle of poverty and violence:

  1. Help provide food. A teacher would likely confirm that a student who comes to school hungry will not be able to concentrate on their lessons. Likewise, it is incredibly difficult to help a poor population without first providing them with food. Food for the Poor has been incredibly helpful in this regard, sending healthy meals to families in Trinidad and Tobago, along with basic hygiene products, products for community development and even school supplies.
  2. Build houses. The Ministry of Housing in Trinidad and Tobago estimates that about 19 percent of the population lives in informal settlements rather than actual houses. Many people are on an incredibly long wait list for government housing and may have to wait 25 years before a house is available. Because of this increasing demand for housing – due to population growth and income equality – building more affordable housing is crucial. Along with providing food, Food for the Poor has also been instrumental in providing housing to poor families in Trinidad and Tobago, as has Habitat for Humanity. Both organizations greatly appreciate help, both in the form of donations and in the form of volunteer work.
  3. Support education and vocational training. As farming is incredibly important to the country’s economy, many people have found that they are able to greatly increase their income by learning new farming techniques, including how to maximize efficiency in their land area and which particular crops to grow. The Caroni Central Farmers’ Market has run with this idea, encouraging people to grow quality crops and, more importantly, teaching them how to make a good living out of it.

While it is always important to help countries in need, helping people in Trinidad and Tobago has a particular significance right now, as more and more young men are being recruited into ISIS. In fact, the country has become a breeding ground for extremism in the Caribbean. This is, in part, due to poverty and the fact that many young people see very few opportunities for their future (especially with the country’s economy on a steady decline), making them easy targets for extremist recruitment. While this is a problem with no one simple solution, the government of Trinidad and Tobago has been slowly trying to prevent the influence of ISIS by introducing new amendments which would criminalize membership in the Islamic State or any extremist organization.

Still, it is clear that the root of this problem is poverty and helplessness, both of which can be alleviated by providing food, housing, education and generally letting people in Trinidad and Tobago know that people care about them. While it may not fix everything, it will be a small way to help people in Trinidad and Tobago and, hopefully, begin to lift them out of poverty.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Trinidad and Tobago
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island country bordering the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago is the third richest country by GDP in the Americas. As a developed country, the most common diseases in Trinidad and Tobago are noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), medical conditions not caused by infectious agents.

Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago, accounting for 32 percent of all deaths in 2014.

Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) is the main cause of heart attack and stroke and can also lead to blindness, kidney failure and other health problems. The prevalence of hypertension in Trinidad and Tobago is high; approximately 29.8 percent of males and 23.1 percent of females are affected.

In 2013, The Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago started a campaign aiming to reduce the risk factors of heart disease among the population. The “Fight the Fat” campaign focuses on reducing obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets. For the World Health Campaign, the Ministry of Health launched “Know Your Numbers; Get Screened.” Initiatives included raising awareness about hypertension and creating opportunities for adults to check their blood pressure.

Cancer
According to a report released by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in 2013, Trinidad and Tobago has the highest cancer mortality rate in the Americas. Among men, the majority of cancer deaths are due to prostate cancer and, among women, breast cancer. The high number of deaths from breast and cervical cancer has led to calls for better access to screening and treatment services, given that cervical cancer is very preventable, and breast cancer can be detected and treated early.

Diabetes
Diabetes is another one of the most common diseases in Trinidad and Tobago and is responsible for about 14 percent of all deaths. As of 2016, 10.9 percent of men and 14.1 percent of women in the country are living with diabetes.

Since 1980, there has been a 350 percent increase in the number of people in Trinidad and Tobago living with diabetes. The Ministry of Health attributes this rise to unhealthy lifestyle choices among the population, such as poor diet and physical inactivity. In its fight against diabetes, the Ministry of Health is establishing more accessible screening programs, educating medical professionals about treatment and expanding programs to promote healthy lifestyles.

Like most other developed countries, the most common diseases in Trinidad and Tobago are noncommunicable. Though genetics can play a role in an individual’s development of an NCD, many are at risk because of unhealthy choices. This can be seen by statistics provided by the World Health Organization: 30 percent of the population is obese, with sedentary lifestyles and diets high in sugar, salt and fat to blame.

The Ministry of Health has taken a stance on personal responsibility, in a statement that reads: “The Ministry of Health will do its party with the strengthening of primary health care interventions, but the population of Trinidad and Tobago has a role to play in making better dietary choices and increasing physical exercise.” However, the Ministry of Health also has a role to play in helping Trinidad and Tobago make these changes. It is unlikely that everyone in the country is actively deciding to be unhealthy – there may be issues of accessibility and education at play, too.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Google

Refugees in Trinidad and Tobago
Due to foreign investment in tourism and an abundance of oil and natural gas resources, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the top destinations for Caribbean refugees. As a result, Trinidad and Tobago is facing a multitude of challenges. The country’s borders are vulnerable and human traffickers are active as the country struggles with being the active transit point for North American and European migration. Discussed below are leading facts about refugees in Trinidad and Tobago and the challenges they face.

 

Top 10 Facts about Refugees in Trinidad and Tobago

 

  1. Available data suggests that one-third of Caribbean refugees reside in Trinidad and Tobago.
  2. Before 2012, Trinidad and Tobago would only receive around 20 to 30 refugees from different countries annually.
  3. In January 2013, there was an easing of restrictions with Cuba and a change in migration laws, giving people more freedom of migration and movement. This is when Trinidad and Tobago began receiving an influx of Cuban refugees.
  4. By 2014, Trinidad and Tobago received 100 refugees, and, by 2016, that more than doubled to 209 refugees.
  5. In response to the growing number of asylum-seekers, the government adopted an official refugee policy in June 2014 and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) established an office in January 2016.
  6. In 2016, about 50 percent of refugees in Trinidad and Tobago were from Syria, followed by Cuba with 36 percent.
  7. The UNHCR office in Trinidad and Tobago provides technical and capacity-building advice to authorities, supports the development of an effective asylum system that aligns with the government’s refugee policy, and provides direct assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers through and in coordination with its implementing partner Living Water Community.
  8. The adoption of specific legislation ensures that refugees enjoy all the rights given by the 1951 Refugee Convention. However, there are no current avenues for refugees to legally integrate into the country. This prevents them from positively contributing to the development and prosperity of the nation, including its ideas, culture and knowledge.
  9. In Trinidad and Tobago, more than 40 percent of the refugee population comes from outside the Americas.
  10. In 2017, the country expects to host more than 400 refugees from multiple countries.

These facts about refugees in Trinidad and Tobago provide awareness about their current situation. Trinidad and Tobago has gradually become a more popular destination for refugees as an active middle point between European and American migration.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Google


Known for its beautiful beaches, tropical weather and delicious foods, Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation and a favorite vacation destination. The vast majority of its citizens live in Trinidad. Even though tourism accounts for less than 1 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s entire economic output, about half of Tobago’s 60,000 residents are employed in the industry. Due to tourism’s importance, the government is extremely concerned with water quality in Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. Trinidad and Tobago have had issues with water quality in the past. In 2012, a “black, poisonous liquid run-off” from the Guanapo Landfill was discovered to have been polluting nearby water sources for 30 years. In 2009, the tap water in Arima, a Trinidadian borough, was found to have a level of mercury 150 percent greater than the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for inorganic chemicals.
  2. As of Feb. 17, Trinidad and Tobago’s Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) confirmed that the water it treats is safe to drink. The safe drinking water includes the water sources affected by the landfill mentioned above. Parliament established the WASA in 1965 to provide citizens throughout both islands with clean water.
  3. In 2015, improved water sources in Trinidad and Tobago were available to 95 percent of the population, a three percent increase from the 1990s.
  4. Another motivation for maintaining the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago is reverence for the ocean among the population. In a feature on this subject, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) technical adviser Neila Bobb Prescott told U.N. News about a number of local customs: After a child is born, they are taken to the beach to dip their feet in the saltwater to mark the occasion and “bring them to the age.” Prescott went on to say that people go to the ocean when they are having emotional and physical problems; some even drink a bit of saltwater to soothe an upset stomach.
  5. The WASA anticipates that the city of San Fernando’s population will rise to 111,600 by 2035. To accommodate this, it launched the San Fernando Wastewater Project. The goal is to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in the same place as the current one and replace all such plants currently operating within the project’s borders.

A year after construction began, contractor Triple ‘A’ Water Treatment Plant Limited said it had underpriced the project. To rectify this, the Inter-American Development Bank, which is already financing the project, agreed to provide the contractor with a $10 million second advance payment along with an attachment of terms and conditions.

While the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago has fluctuated, the citizens and government continue to do their best to keep it safe and clean.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr


The education system in Trinidad and Tobago is one of the government’s highest priorities, and the country has an outstanding reputation in this regard. As of 2015, the country had a literacy rate of 96.9 percent according to UNESCO statistics and has steadily grown since the early nineties.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is free and compulsory but accessible from the preschool age of three which is considered non-mandatory. After the completion of secondary school, students are given the option of staying on for an additional two years of high school which can lead to an advanced proficiency certificate and entry into a tertiary institution.

University in Trinidad and Tobago is free at the undergraduate degree and only approved at the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the Southern Caribbean. The government of Trinidad and Tobago also provides subsidies for some master’s programs making education in Trinidad and Tobago the best in the Caribbean.

In 2007, Trinidad and Tobago commenced a pilot study to focus on children with special needs outside of partnering with private preschools to develop four models that address childhood education.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is considered one of the country’s greatest strengths and is very multi-faceted. Trinidad’s education sector stands out among emerging markets and ranks on the global competitiveness report. According to the OECD PISA score of Trinidad and Tobago, girls perform significantly better than boys statistically. A lot of students has also repeated a grade compared to other countries and economies also participating in PISA.

While education in Trinidad and Tobago has seen great improvement, particularly in curriculum design and strategic policy, the Ministry of Education and major stakeholders continue to be more innovative in their efforts to create a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce.

Education is Trinidad and Tobago is considered one the most important development tools for the country.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a two-island nation located in the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. The population there totals more than 1.3 million and has “one of the highest per-capita incomes in Latin America and the Caribbean.” As of 2016, about 100,000 people, or nearly eight percent of the population, were undernourished and nearly 30 percent were considered to be in poverty.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., hunger in Trinidad and Tobago has been on the decline since the protein supply has increased over the past 10 years.

Despite this improvement, there is still work to be done. The World Bank determined Trinidad and Tobago to be the most wasteful country in terms of food per capita. Local nonprofit Nourish TT is working to end hunger in Trinidad and Tobago by serving as a connection between organizations that feed hungry people and businesses that have food left over.

By taking food that would have otherwise gone to waste and giving it to those who need it most, Nourish TT seeks to end hunger in the area. It is effectively changing the amount of food wasted through retail into meals. More than 36,000 kilos of food and nearly 90,000 meals have been donated through the organization.

Food for the Poor is a U.S. organization that is working to alleviate hunger in Trinidad and Tobago. Working on the islands since the late ’80s, Food for the Poor focuses on feeding people who are hungry, building housing for those in poverty and providing other types of aid. Over the last 30 years, the organization has been working with orphanages and building houses in Trinidad and Tobago.

Poverty and hunger are two issues that go hand in hand. In Trinidad and Tobago, strides are being made to eradicate both.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Tobago
Tobago is a luscious rainforest covered island off the coast of Venezuela. The small island is part of the complete nation of Trinidad and Tobago, with Tobago being the smaller of the two islands. Trinidad and Tobago are considered wealthy nations, but about 20 percent of people living there are below the poverty line. Many do not even realize that there is poverty in Tobago.

The poverty in Tobago is a serious issue. Most of the poverty in the nation is situated in the urban communities of the island, according to the World Bank report on Trinidad and Tobago.

Despite the income that is made in the nation off of oil exports, people are living below the poverty line in Tobago at TT$1,230 per month, according to the nation publication, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Those that were interview by the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian said that the TT$1,230 (USD$183) was what they spent on food each month. This means that many citizens below the poverty line in Tobago aren’t able to afford anything except for the basic necessities.

The good news about the nation is that unemployment rate is only at four percent, according to the CIA World Factbook. But for many of those who are unemployed, drugs and criminal activity have been issues for the nation in past years.

The crime and drug violence through the years has put a damper on the tourism industry in the nation. The crime rates and the violence on tourist all loop back into one common issue: poverty in Tobago.

But there is work being done for the island nation to decrease the poverty. Some of the strategies that are being used in the nation include promoting growth in non-oil sectors, improving labor conditions by reducing discrimination, improving education, supporting health reforms and helping programs meet the needs of the poor.

Hailey McLaughlin

Photo: Flickr