Poverty in Jamaica
With over 2 million stopover visits, the tropical island of Jamaica remains one of the most popular tourist vacation areas; renowned home of Reggae legend Bob Marley and the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. However, within and around the outskirts of paradise lives the poor and those experiencing financial hardship.

Yet many remain oblivious to the existence of poverty in Jamaica. The poverty rate in Jamaica remains at 16.5 percent, after increasing in the past two years.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will be providing $50 million in support of the Jamaican Government’s efforts to help alleviate poverty. The IDB investment loan was initiated to support poor families who were beneficiaries of the Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

With the aim of alleviating poverty in Jamaica, PATH was put into effect by the government within its social safety net budget. The IDB’s project was put into place to provide financial and health stability for eligible beneficiaries of the PATH program such as children and pregnant women.

“The Integrated Support to Jamaica’s Social Protection Strategy project is a continuation of support by the IDB to the reform of Jamaica’s SSN,” said Therese Turner-Jones, IDB country representative for Jamaica said.

She noted that since 2000, in partnership with the World Bank, IDB is to achieve greater equity, efficiency and effectiveness. This included a previous investment loan in 2009 to reduce the life-threatening effects of the food price crisis on the most impoverished.

For two consecutive international financial crisis periods, the IDB has created scheduled loans against social spending as well as to protect against labor policies. Their efforts have promoted human capital and supported the networking of the poor into labor markets.

Turner-Jones outlined that the Integrated Support to Jamaica’s Social Protection Strategy project will help reduce the negative impact of fiscal adjustment on the poor.

The IDB loan for $50 million is set to continue for 25 years, with extended overtime of 5.5 years and an interest rate based on LIBOR.

The IDB has come on board to support the long-term development plan for Jamaica, Vision 2030 Jamaica, to reduce poverty by ensuring access to basic goods and services, responsive public policy, opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and social inclusion.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr