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Hunger in BarbadosThe population of Barbados is approximately 290,000. While hunger rates have drastically fallen within the last two decades, a new problem emerges—childhood obesity. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional threats to both of these issues in the scarcity of healthy options or food altogether. In addition, the decreases in GDP indicate the economic consequences of lost tourism revenue. Here are five facts covering the state of hunger in Barbados as they recover from the impact of coronavirus.

5 Facts About Hunger in Barbados

  1. Pervasiveness: In 2004, roughly one in 16 Barbadians’ food intake fell below the necessary consumption requirements to meet efficient dietary standards. As of 2017, 3.9% of the population experiences undernourishment, which is a 0.1% increase from the previous year. However, there is a decreasing trend in the percentage of malnourished people in Barbados.
  2. Agriculture: In 2018, 22.6% of Barbados’ merchandise imports were food products, a near 3% increase from the previous year. Barbados is unique compared to other impoverished nations in that most of its land is arable. Large farm complexes tend to dominate the agricultural industry, with sugar production previously leading the economy until the 1950s. As sugar prices decreased, government efforts to diversify food production led to significant increases in local food resources. Modernization programs continue to support fishing and foliage industries.
  3. COVID-19’s Impact: Compared to other impoverished nations and the United States, Barbados handled the pandemic fairly efficiently. Following 35 days with no reported new cases, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley lifted flight restrictions and all curfews were no longer in effect beginning July 1. However, a joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projected that COVID-19 could push 83.4 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into extreme poverty. Fortunately, Barbados’ competency in pandemic response resulted in the coronavirus posing no significant additional threat to food security. In the Eastern Caribbean, over 40% of GDP and 25% of private-sector employment comes from tourism. With the pandemic under control, Barbados is likely to recover from the months-long travel standstill.
  4. Negative Impacts: While hunger in Barbados rapidly decreased in the last few decades, a new problem emerged: childhood obesity. A 2012 World Health Organization survey found that 31.5% of school children were overweight and 14.4% were obese. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Weir is taking the lead in finding effective solutions against childhood obesity. This includes increasing access to nutritious foods and cooperating with fast-food businesses to help find solutions. The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (B-CHOPP) plans to take “a broader and more systemic approach.” B-CHOPP is looking at disparities in access to healthy food. The plan promoted five strategic actions, including promoting healthy school initiatives and physical activity.
  5. Progress: Zero Hunger is the second goal in the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). In Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, UNDP is currently working on multiple projects. This includes transforming food and agriculture while actively combatting climate change. According to the United Nations, the last 20 years have shown considerable strides in increasing food security. This is due to economic progress and agricultural productivity. A 2019 FAO report reveals that the objective of the U.N.’s sustainability programs empowers small farmers and family farms to increase food production and productivity. This sustainability model also plays into using limited resources for effective aquaponics. In addition, a 2017 FAO report found that the test facilities were “fully operational and… actively producing fish and vegetables for sale.” While hunger is significantly lower than before, local and international organizations continue to fight hunger in Barbados.

From the ongoing success of the UNDP, FAO and other local and international associations, Barbados continues to address food insecurity and promoting nutrition to its citizens. Yet, the emphasis on local programs that simultaneously combat global and local issues, like climate change, demonstrates the workings of a multi-pronged approach to combat hunger.

Francesca Gaynor
Photo: Flickr

Water quality in BarbadosBarbados was an uninhabited island in the Caribbean until the British settled the island in 1627. Slaves were taken there from Africa to work in the sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but the economy remained largely dependent on sugar, rum and molasses during most of the 20th century.

Barbados has moved from an economy heavily dependent on agriculture to one focused on manufacturing and tourism. Although the economy has shifted, the sugar industry still plays an important role in the economy. Besides sugarcane, farmers also grow cotton, root crops and vegetables.

Water quality in Barbados can be compromised by pollution from agriculture, industry and urban development. The island nation is listed as a water-scarce country because of the depletion of the water reserves during the 20th century. To address this, strict standards were developed for the use of drinking water. Because of the high demand for water on the island coupled with an inadequate supply, the nation built a desalination plant in 2000. Despite this, the water quality in Barbados is still questioned.

The Daily Herald reported in 2016 that there were rumors circulating on social media suggesting that contaminated water was responsible for a string of deaths during the summer of 2016. According to the rumors, there was lead in the newly installed water meters.

The Barbados Water Authority responded with a statement saying that the meters contained no lead. They were made from plastic and brass and manufactured in Germany. The water meters were approved by the German Environmental Agency under the German Drinking Water Ordinance of 2013.

They also stated that the meters were being used in 22 other countries including France, Spain and Ireland. In addition, the water supply is tested twice a year for heavy metals and pesticides. Tests conducted in March 2016 showed that lead levels were under the limits and drinking water was within standards.

The government of Barbados created a policy that designated five Groundwater Protection Zones around the island. This helped protect public supply wells from contamination from bacteria, which is a significant step towards improving water quality in Barbados.

– Fernando Vasquez

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Barbados

Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island that, along with other Caribbean nations, has faced problems with malnourishment. Hunger in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was a major issue between 1990 and 1992 when there were an estimated 8.1 million malnourished citizens in these countries.

However, by 2016, that number decreased to 7.5 million, improving by 7.4 percent. Barbados is also one of the leaders in the Caribbean when it comes to ending malnourishment. Barbados, along with Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met the global hunger target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. Hunger in Barbados is nearly gone; the estimated rate of malnourishment in Barbados is less than 5 percent.

Barbados has taken great steps towards ending hunger; however, Barbados has a new problem: childhood obesity. At the National Committee Monitoring the Rights of the Child, Consultant Pediatrician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Professor Anne St. John gave a speech. She praised Barbados for conquering malnutrition and the illnesses that go along with it, but then said, “now we have gone from under-feeding to overeating, and obesity is a form of malnutrition.”

Dr. St. John also explained that the average Barbadian is now eating 400 more calories a day than they were just 30 years earlier. According to a 2005 study, about 27 percent of students in primary school are obese, which could be a result of these extra calories that mostly come from fat and snacks. Dr. St. John believes that cultural practices and traditions may be a contributing factor to this weight gain in adolescents. She says that some parents claim their child is a picky eater, but some parents take more drastic measures. She has heard stories of parents hitting their children with a belt or ruler if they do not finish their plate or some resort to “shoveling food down the child’s throat”.

Along with the increase in calorie intake, the idea around exercise at a young age has also affected obesity rates. Dr. St. John explained that when children begin choosing classes in the third form, some schools do not have physical education as a requirement, so some students no longer take it. Also, students’ parents are using conditions such as asthma as an excuse to take them out of these classes, when in reality they should stay in, as it helps increase their lung capacity.

Barbados is working on ways to stop this increase in childhood obesity, such as removing mascots from children’s cereal like Tony the Tiger. Children may choose these cereals based on the characters when in reality they are full of sugar and less healthy than alternatives. Educators are also trying to teach children that fruit juices, though they contain fruit in the name, are actually unhealthy based on the added sugars. Like hunger in Barbados, obesity is another issue that Barbadians will be sure to solve.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Help People in BarbadosBarbados, an independent British Commonwealth island nation, is the most flourishing country in the Caribbean area, with free education and accessible healthcare. However, there is still a need to help people in Barbados.

The country has made it a priority to provide efficient and accessible healthcare to include physical, mental, and social help. Because of this, such issues as infant and child mortality rates have decreased, and vaccines have greatly reduced preventable diseases. In addition, according to Commonwealth Health Online, there has been a decline in the AIDS fatality rate as well as an increase in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Unfortunately, Barbados still struggles with the lack innovations in healthcare and patients’ growing expectations, as well as a failure to combat communicable and chronic non-communicable diseases, with HIV/AIDS as the exception. The government hopes to implement some changes, including supplying services in a more cost effective way, developing and integrating delivering services, and fulfilling unmet and vulnerable needs.

Concerning education, the Barbados government pays for schooling and provides compulsory primary school, from age five to eleven; compulsory secondary school, eleven to sixteen; and optional tertiary school, which is post-secondary education. But even with the seemingly sound educational system, some of the high standards have been declining over the past decade, due to negative attitudes from the students, poor academic performances, and the lack of technology to aid in the success of students.

To help people in Barbados regarding education, workshops have been developed to help teachers teach students better. The government has plans to help strengthen the technological infrastructure, to better teacher training, and to recognize teacher’s contributions to the nation-building actions.

While the health and education systems are taking strides to improve, there are still major issues in the country, such as the lack of space and inefficient land use. According to the 2010 National Environment Summary, there is the possible threat of land degradation and droughts. There is also inadequate waste management in Barbados

In addition, there is the insufficient reliability of freshwater. There are between 96-98 percent of homes connected to the public water supply, while the rest just have slight access. The ground water supply is deemed fair, providing disinfected water. But, the development of sewage treatment plants is necessary to finally dispose from homes via septic tanks.

To help people in Barbados dealing with land, drought, and water issues, the charities listed below are active on the island. Donations or volunteer work can directly assist those citizens who are most in need on Barbados.

Verdun House
Future Centre Trust
Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute
Variety the Children’s Charity

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in BarbadosBarbados is a tiny island in the Caribbean. Many visit Barbados to enjoy the island’s lush greenery and warm sun. However, there are still causes of poverty in Barbados that impact the residents deeply. Locals contend with poverty on different scales, with the youth of Barbados struggling to overcome poverty.

Lack of Opportunities
The job market in Barbados is somewhat narrow, constrained by stigma and discrimination. Job seekers may be discriminated against because of their age, gender, migrant status or even their area of residence.

Job seekers are also restricted by their social networks. While those looking for jobs usually look in newspapers, with 50.7 percent seeking out newspaper advertisements, word of mouth plays a large role in landing jobs for youth. Approximately 36.3 percent used word of mouth as a tool for job hunting.

The problem with using word of mouth information is that individuals are limited to seeking jobs only through their social networks. Individuals have to expand their social networks in order to land jobs through word of mouth.

Education
Financial issues prevent youths from accessing education. Unfortunately, without access to quality education, the youth of Barbados are limited in the job market.

On the other end of the spectrum, those who are highly qualified with certifications expect to find high-paying jobs. However, when these high-paying jobs are not available because of the local economy, educated youths become discouraged in their job hunt. Approximately 21 percent of voluntarily unemployed youths did not want to work because of the stark difference between their qualifications and the availability of jobs.

At Home
When youths are unable to find jobs because of limited contacts or poor education, they remain dependents in their households. This means that there are large households with fewer resources for every member in the family.

High fertility rates and large numbers of children mean that households are fairly large already, stretching families’ financial resources. A lack of financial support from children’s fathers means that household revenues are low.

When families’ financial resources are stretched, youths are not able to economically access the education or social networks they need. This perpetuates the cycle of economic instability and families continue to face poverty.

A Solution?
In 2012, the government of Barbados established a poverty intervention scheme, titled the Implementation Stabilisation Enablement and Empowerment Bridge Programme.

Trained social workers led the program for two years, acting as household facilitators and supervisors.

The ultimate goal of the program is to encourage self-reliance and more importantly, self-introspection by families. Families can then make empowering long-term plans based on their individual situations.

The government’s implementation of such a program bodes well for the predominantly socioeconomic causes of poverty in Barbados.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr

Barbados Poverty RateSince the 1950s, the Barbados economy has been drastically overhauled. Transforming from a primarily agricultural economy to one that is primarily service and innovation oriented, Barbados has continued to modernize its economy over the past half century. However, a large part of its economy is based on the tourism industry – one that is notorious for slow growth – leaving 26.2 percent of the population unemployed.

The Barbados poverty rate stands at 19 percent for individuals. This is a significant increase from the 13.9 percent poverty rate reported in 1998, and it does not bode well for an economy largely dependent on foreign tourism. Though the poverty line has shifted in the right direction, with the average income increasing from $5503 to $7860, the country acknowledges that there is much work to be done.

To combat the rising Barbados poverty rate, the ISEE Bridge Project was started. The acronym ISEE stands for the four steps the government has identified as necessary to help reduce poverty in Barbados.

The first part of the program has already been completed: identification of vulnerable populations and people living below the poverty line who desperately need help. Next comes stabilization, or addressing the most pressing needs. Following stabilization comes enablement, where necessary skills are imparted. The final step of the ISEE Bridge Program is empowerment, or providing individuals with all the support they need to succeed and excel.

The ISEE Bridge Program began in 2015, has helped 30 families so far and will expand to serve more than 250 families. This program is a small portion of the initiative that has been committed to ameliorating the Barbados poverty rate.

Other facets of the initiative will address specific groups such as retrenched workers and at-risk youth aged 16 to 30. With a high Global Development Index score and firm commitments to the future of its people, Barbados is well on its way toward increasing living standards and alleviating poverty countrywide.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Google

Cost of Living in Barbados
The island country of Barbados is known for its sun, clear beach water and for being Rihanna’s country of origin. The decent cost of living in Barbados and its wealth are also relatively well-known. At the time of publication, one Barbados Dollar (BBD) is worth 50 cents in U.S. currency.

Food
Numbeo is a database of user-submitted information detailing the costs of living in cities and countries worldwide. According to its indexes, the cost of food in Barbados is fairly inexpensive. In Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, the most expensive market items are a gallon of milk ($23.08 BBD/$11.54 USD) and a mid-range bottle of wine ($32.50 BBD/$16.25 USD).

Housing
Housing prices vary greatly depending on whether or not the location is in or near a city center. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs 1,083.33 BBD ($541.67) per month or 2,125 BBD ($1,062.50) for a three-bedroom apartment. Outside the city center, the prices drop down significantly to 830 BBD ($415) and 1,700.00 BBD ($850) for one- and three-bedroom apartments, respectively.

Monthly utilities (such as water, heat, gas, garbage and electricity) for a 915-square-foot apartment cost approximately 220 BBD ($110) per month. High-speed Internet access costs about 85 BBD ($42.50).

Transportation
Expatistan is a site devoted to giving expatriates reliable data for the costs of living. It lists the price of a new small car with no extra enhancements (specifically the Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 150 CV) in Bridgetown as 81,881 BBD ($40,941).

A monthly pass for public transportation will run someone about 81 BBD ($40).

Education
In Barbados, education at government-run schools is mandatory and free through the secondary level (this includes children ages five to 16). Parents have the option of enrolling their children in a public school, but they will incur various fees, the most expensive of which is around 15,000.00 BBD per term (or $7,500).

Because of this education system, the country’s literacy rate is a stellar 99.7%.

Overall, the cost of living in Barbados is one element that earned the island country its status as the Eastern Caribbean’s most developed and wealthiest country.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr


Barbados sits near the end of the Lesser Antilles arc of the Caribbean. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s water source, which supplied the public via ponds, springs and wells in Barbados’ early days. Methods to provide water to the public developed from hauling well water up with buckets to steam-driven pumps to the first electric pump in 1944.

Water quality in Barbados is maintained by its two wastewater treatment plants: the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment System, commissioned in 1982 and the South Coast Sewage Treatment System, commissioned in 2003.

A brackish water reverse osmosis desalination plant in Spring Garden, Saint Michael also contributes to water quality in Barbados. It supplies potable water to 44,000 people.

Barbados now has a cultivated irrigation system. The Golden Ridge Reservoir, the Castle Grant Reservoir and the Spring System provide water to parishes including St. Andrew, St. John, St. Joseph and St. Thomas.

According to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), these very parishes experience long-term reduced water supply.

In 2015 the Caribbean shifted the focus of its strategies and programs from storms and floods to droughts. Climate change and El Nino increased the severity and frequency of drought conditions in the Caribbean. As a result, Barbados is one of the top 10 water-stressed countries.

The drought caused the Barbadian cost of living to rise, increasing the number of kitchen gardens and water demands from local water systems. Agriculture is Barbados’ largest water user, and there are about 120 privately owned wells to contend with this heavy usage.

Consequently, the functionality of water in Barbadian homes changed. In early 2016, the BWA implemented a three-month water ban. The ban prohibits filling and supplying tanks, swimming pools, baths and ponds as well as washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages, out rooms and vehicles. It requires Barbadian domestic tanks be connected to their water supply and sewerage system.

In 2016 the BWA established long-term water management solutions to ameliorate water scarcity. The first goal is the installation of eight water tankers to provide water for residents of St. Joseph, St. Andrew and St. John. The second is rehabilitating a well in St. George to provide an additional 500,000 gallons of water to the Golden Ridge and Castle Grant systems. The third is completing the pumping station at the Lazaretto, St. Michael, pushing desalinated water into the St. Peter’s system for St. Peter and St. Lucy.

The final goal is the commencement of the St. Philip Water Augmentation Project. After conducting hydrogeological investigations in the St. Philip aquifer and constructing new wells, improved water quality in Barbados will be a reality for the people of St. Philip.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr


In the small Caribbean island of Barbados, diseases have increasingly affected the overall health of the population. The double burden of diseases involves both infectious and noninfectious diseases.

Barbados has a long history of infectious disease, from pneumonia to tuberculosis and influenza to HIV/AIDs. Out of these top diseases in Barbados, HIV/AIDS levels were especially high. In 2008, 14 percent of deaths in Barbados resulted from HIV/AIDs, but by 2012 the rates declined to 0.9 percent. The prevalence of HIV/AIDs has fluctuated throughout the years but has remained one of the top diseases plaguing the population. Less than half of those with HIV/AIDS are aware of their status.

Although communicable disease remains a major threat to the population, noncommunicable diseases are the top diseases in Barbados today. Some of the most common noncommunicable diseases include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, stroke and cancer. Approximately 38,000 people suffer from hypertension alone. Out of 284,000 people in the population, 90,000 are overweight and 19,000 are diabetic.

Many of these top noncommunicable diseases in Barbados are caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, unhealthy diet, alcohol abuse, sedentary lifestyles and psychosocial stress. These conditions have a harsher effect on the poor because of isolation from the important resources and networks needed to combat rising health issues. Households living in poverty have steadily increased from 8.7 percent to 15 percent, encompassing a significant amount of the population. Few people have sufficient access to healthcare. In fact, only 20 percent of Barbadians can access cardiac rehab centers once they have suffered a heart attack. The limited access to treatment makes it harder to fight this new series of burdens.

The epidemiological transition from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases brought forth a double burden of diseases. Although deaths from noncommunicable diseases have surpassed deaths from communicable diseases, both remain active in the Barbadian community. What has the population done to combat these diseases in Barbados?

Funding from the Tropical Medicine Research Institute has driven the development of the world-renowned Chronic Diseases Research Centre. The Centre focuses on the surveillance and prevention of chronic noncommunicable diseases, with the magnitude to influence healthcare in Barbados and the wider Caribbean.

While the double burden of disease is an island-wide phenomenon, there lies a ray of hope in the workings of the Chronic Diseases Research Centre.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that a country’s social, economic and political needs all reflect its need of an educational system that allows students to be creative, develop new skills and grow as individuals. According to the Ministry of Education in Barbados, in the 2013-2014 year, the government invested almost $500 million into improving schools to provide a safe and academically challenging environment for children that will cultivate their growth into becoming productive members of society. Here are seven ways that Barbados is improving its education system.

7 Facts About Education in Barbados

  1. Education in Barbados uses the child-centered approach and does not let course work dictate a teacher’s pace in the classroom. Teachers move at whatever pace makes it easiest for students to comprehend the material.
  2. The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation oversees education by providing teachers with lesson plans, feedback and workshops to develop their classroom techniques.
  3. Girls and boys are given equal access to education, which is mandatory for both sexes until the age of 16. There are only three public primary schools in Barbados that are not co-educational.
  4. Parents, doctors and principals can recommend assistance for students with disabilities. Special education services are provided in eight public schools. There are two public schools for students with disabilities, including those who are hearing or visually impaired.
  5. There are three levels of schooling in Barbados, which all have a 39-week school year. These levels include primary, secondary and higher education.
  6. Schools in Barbados follow the outcomes-based learning approach, which provides national standards and education targets for schools and parents. Parents are able to track their children’s academic progress and be more involved in the academic process.
  7. The Ministry of Education has a department specifically designated for designing, analyzing and reforming examination standards. They work closely with school faculty to assure fair and proper testing in schools.

Parents, teachers and the government work together to assure that children receive a quality education in Barbados. They closely monitor student success and develop lesson plans that focus on the learning abilities and academic goals of each individual in the classroom with teaching styles that are both creative and successful. According to the Ministry of Education, 96 percent of children in Barbados between the ages of five and 16 are enrolled in schools, which ensures that they will receive the education necessary to have the opportunity for a successful and prosperous life.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr