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Tourism in Latin America ReducesLatin America is a vast region with diverse weather, geography, culture and foods. Each year, millions of tourists flock to Latin America to enjoy its natural beauty. A vacation haven, tourism in Latin America is a driving force for economic development in the region. Furthermore, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty.

Tourism in Latin America

From the beaches of Cuba to the Andes mountains in Peru, any traveler can find a destination of their preference. The most visited countries in Latin America are Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. According to the World Bank, more than 113 million tourists traveled to Latin America in 2018, bringing $103 billion worth of revenue. Tourism in Latin America has created more than 15 million jobs, which accounts for 7.6% of all employment. Furthermore, international tourism contributes roughly $348 billion to the GDP of the countries in the region.

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Central America saw a 7.3% growth in its tourism sector, the biggest subregional growth in Latin America. Moreover, the country of Costa Rica has attracted millions of international visitors thanks to its ecotourism. Costa Rica is a leader in preserving its environment while attracting millions to come and enjoy its natural beauty. Beaches, rainforests, volcanoes and wildlife attract tourists which contributes to the economic development of the nation. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences correlates ecotourism with improving the lives of Costa Ricans. The study found those living near protected areas and parks saw a 16% reduction in poverty. Furthermore, tourism in the country accounts for 5% of the GDP.

Poverty Reduction in the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is the dream destination for many, with captivating views of the ocean and exciting nightlife, the beach town welcomes 60% of all Dominican Republic’s tourists. Moreover, the country has benefited more from international tourism than any other Latin American nation. The tourism industry contributes to 9.5% of the island nation’s GDP. Even though poverty is still an issue for the country, extreme poverty decreased to 1.6% of the population in 2018. Furthermore, malnourishment has also decreased and life expectancy has increased. Tourism has steadily contributed to the well-being of Dominicans.

COVID-19 and Mexico

Mexico’s tourism is very important for its economy. Mexico is dependent on its tourism sector since it accounts for 16.1% of its GDP and employs nearly nine million people. Destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are very popular for tourists to visit. Furthermore, Mexico’s tourism was thriving until the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to the country. The pandemic brought a halt to tourism and hurt the economy of Mexico. Nonetheless, Mexico still manages to keep the industry alive. Mexico began to limit hotel and restaurant capacity to curtail the virus. Mexico is also working with the CDC to ensure U.S. travelers going back to the United States are returning uninfected. Even though tourism has decreased because of the pandemic, flights to the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Tulum are located, were averaging 460 air arrivals compared to an average of 500 pre-pandemic.

Tourism and the Future

Tourism in Latin America has positively impacted many lives across the region. The U.N. acknowledges that tourism is a way for a developing country to economically sustain itself. Moreover, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty. Challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic put a setback to the growing tourism sector. Regardless, Latin America has an abundance of beauty and adventure, thus ensuring tourism will be kept alive once the pandemic is over.

– Andy Calderon Lanza
Photo: Flickr

cause of hungerThe COVID-19 pandemic is deemed a global health crisis that has resulted in an economic crisis and a hunger crisis too. In the Dominican Republic, Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger.

Unemployment Due to COVID-19

Cabarete, Dominican Republic, prides itself on being one of the watersports capitals of the world. Nearly two-thirds of Cabarete’s population depends on the local tourism industry for work and income. These jobs mostly fall under the informal economy.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 60% of the world’s working population were employed in the informal economy. The informal economy is defined by hourly jobs that offer neither a salary nor employee benefits. The pandemic left many people without a regular source of income and without health insurance.

Compared with the bailout packages that the governments of wealthy nations were able to provide to their citizens, the governments of impoverished nations were unable to provide citizens with such economic support. Around the world, NGOs have attempted to assist in providing the support that impoverished governments are unable to provide.

Cabarete Sostenible Addresses the Root Cause of Hunger

Moraima Capellán Pichardo, a citizen of Cabarete, is a supporter of the concept of food sovereignty. The Borgen Project spoke with Capellán Pichardo about the origins of Cabarete Sostenible and the organization’s long-term goals. Food sovereignty, the principle that individual self-actualization is dependent on having enough to eat, is at the heart of Cabarete Sostenible’s mission.

Capellán Pichardo told The Borgen Project that individual NGOs in Cabarete were working independently of each other when the COVID-19 pandemic began. These separate organizations had a common goal so they came together to form a coalition and increase their impact. This coalition became the nonprofit organization, Cabarete Sostenible. Everyone who works with Cabarete Sostenible is a volunteer. The organization works with local food distributors and organic farms and distributes the foodstuff that it receives to struggling families and individuals in Cabarete. This forms the organization’s first response to the hunger crisis.

Although it began as a method to address an acute crisis, Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger. Capellán Pichardo indicated that food sovereignty has been on the minds of Cabarete Sostenible’s volunteers and organizers since its inception. “Very early on, we sat down to discuss where we thought Cabarete Sostenible was going in the future. For us, we wanted to make sure that we did not just stick to giving out food because that does not really address the root problem.”

The Concept of Food Sovereignty

Food insecurity means being without reliable access to sufficient and nutritious supplies of food at any given time and is a common reality for citizens of Cabarete. On the other hand, food sovereignty, organizing society in such a manner that every individual has access to producing his or her own food, is a possible solution to food insecurity. “Food sovereignty is tied to land access,” Capellán Pichardo says. “For us, it is important that the first mission that Cabarete Sostenible focuses on is food sovereignty: access to healthy and appropriate food and using the native agricultural land to provide that.”

Food Sovereignty Addresses Food Insecurity

Since COVID-19, many factors have contributed to a rise in food insecurity and extreme poverty worldwide. Mass rates of unemployment have threatened access to food as even the poorest households spend close to three-fourths of their income on food.

Widespread unemployment, combined with unexpected drops in agricultural production, has created an unprecedented crisis. Because of supply line disruptions and trade barriers, often the result of increased health precautions, citizens of the world’s poorest nations are left without access to food. Some of the suffering caused by such disruptions can be mitigated by food sovereignty policies. Perhaps, a societal approach may be modeled after Cabarete Sostenible’s efforts to address the root causes of hunger.

Sustainable Community Solutions to Hunger

Capellán Pichardo is optimistic about the road ahead as she details how the organization has worked with local landowners to collaborate on solutions. The organization has opened the first community garden and is working to partner up to create a community-style farm. All this is work toward creating a social business model. Cabarete Sostenible seeks to address the root cause of hunger by helping to create a sustainable way of living, where food shortages are less likely and future hunger crises are averted.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Cafe Femenino FoundationEstimates place women’s involvement in coffee production at as high as 70% of all the labor, making women an integral part of the coffee industry. However, women face high levels of gender discrimination within the industry in terms of access to “land, credit and information”, resulting in lower incomes and crop yields when compared to men. The Cafe Femenino Foundation looks to change this.

Cafe Femenino Foundation

Noticing the inequity, Garth and Gay Smith founded the Cafe Femenino Foundation in 2004 to empower women working in the coffee industry. The nonprofit organization provides grants to women’s coffee collectives in nine countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Sumatra. The grants can be used for a vast range of initiatives including food security, income diversification and health, to empower women socially, politically and economically.

Food Security Initiatives

Cafe Femenino Foundation provides grants to combat food insecurity in multiple countries’ coffee-growing regions, which also helps women earn extra income. In Peru, training sessions teach women how to preserve fruits to prevent spoiling and extend the period during which they can be eaten. Preserved fruit can also be sold at markets when the supply of fresh fruit is diminished, allowing the women to sell for higher prices. Women who participated in the training sessions went home with 10 cans of each fruit they preserved, which is credited with helping lower rates of child malnutrition in the regions.

Similarly, in the Dominican Republic, Cafe Femenino Foundation grants supported women’s coffee collectives to start growing passionfruit and breed both cows and goats. Passionfruit is used in many foods and drinks, making it popular among the women themselves and at the markets. Since 2009, more than 200 women and their family members have benefitted from access to passionfruit. The goat and cow breeding initiatives provide women with milk and meat to feed their families and to sell for additional income. As of 2013, almost 30 women participated in the animal breeding programs.

Health Initiatives

In Colombia, grants have been given by Cafe Femenino Foundation to the COSURCA coffee cooperative to improve women’s health through kitchen remodeling. Since kitchens are traditionally women’s spaces, they are often not remodeled and are constructed of poor materials with dirt floors. The kitchens of 18 women have been remodeled as of 2013 to include outdoor ventilation that prevents smoke inhalation and running water to improve cleanliness and hygiene.

Cafe Femenino Foundation has provided similar grants in Peru to improve health conditions by improving stoves. The new stoves decrease smoke inhalation and respiratory illnesses that occur as a result.

Women’s Empowerment Initiatives

Also in Peru, Cafe Femenino Foundation grants have supported the building of community safe spaces, called Casa Cafe Femenino, for women in multiple coffee-growing communities. These spaces provide women with opportunities to meet and talk in places that are not “borrowed from the men”, promoting women’s independence and agency. Casa Cafe Femeninos are also able to act as temporary shelters for women facing domestic violence. As of 2013, these spaces benefitted more than 800 women from two coffee collectives.

Cafe Femenino Foundation also supports the education of women. In Peru, the nonprofit helped five women complete training to be promoted to the role of internal coffee inspector, giving these women more power within the coffee industry. In the early years of the nonprofit, a grant provided scholarships for 600 girls, all of who were the daughters of coffee producers, to attend school.

Equality in the Coffee Industry

The coffee industry is made up largely of women yet these women face gender discrimination and inequality. Cafe Femenino Foundation strives to eliminate the gender gap in coffee production by providing grants to women’s coffee collectives in a range of areas, including food security, health and women’s empowerment based on the needs of the women. The projects, while benefitting the women, also help to teach leadership and problem-solving skills through a democratic process of distribution, furthering women’s empowerment.

– Sydney Leiter
Photo: pixabay


Gender equality in the Dominican Republic has been shown by the Sustainable Development Report to be on the rise and on its way to achieving and maintaining the SDG quota for achievement. Of the four criteria to meet, the The Dominican Republic has met two. But is the Dominican Republic truly the progressive country it is touting itself to be?

Gender Equality and Domestic Violence

Although by SDG’s empirical data, the Dominican Republic is a progressive country when it comes to gender equality, there are still many cultural norms that keep women being truly equal to the opposite gender. The country has a high rate of violence against girls and women, as well as a high rate of maternal mortality and teen pregnancy. It took until January 2010 for the Dominican Republic to amend its constitution to make it more inclusive and favorable for women. This includes Article 39, which condemns domestic and gender-based violence. Perhaps the most iconic and historic act of gender-based violence occurred when the Mirabal Sisters were murdered under the orders of Trujillo because of their public dissent against the dictator.

Over the past two years, there have been over 15,000 reported cases of domestic violence against women in the capital city of Santo Domingo, this makes domestic violence 23% of the reported crimes in the city – the most reported crime. 46% of the femicides reported in the last year were results of domestic violence. Before January 1997, when the law against domestic violence was enacted, domestic violence was legal and was not considered a violation of human rights. Wealth and social standing do not make women immune to domestic violence. Even women of higher social strata are beaten and abused by their husbands, who use their wealth and power to send them out the country to hide their misdeeds.

Sex Trafficking

Another problem plaguing the women in Quisqueya is sex trafficking. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of State, while the Dominican Republic is making significant efforts to eliminate sex trafficking, it does not meet the minimum standard to eradicate sex trafficking. Like in many other areas of governing, the country has shown effort and improvement but not enough to make significant headway. The efforts included convicting more traffickers and doling out more severe penalties to traffickers, enacting a national action plan and increasing the effort to combat labor trafficking. However, the government did not meet these standards in some areas, such as investigating and prosecuting and then issuing inadequate sentences to those of convicted. Not only did the Dominican government fail at prosecuting the criminals, but it also failed the victims of trafficking. The government did not offer enough specialized services to assist the victims.

Foreign Organizations Stepping In

While the Dominican government itself is failing its women, foreign organizations are attempting to combat domestic violence and sex trafficking. The United Nation’s Women charter (UN Women) has worked to mainstream gender in national planning and policymaking by providing assistance, support and advice to the Dominican government. They have been developing strategies and instruments to interject gender in plans, programming and projects in all levels of government. UN Women also plans on closing gender gaps in social protection and security. Together with the United Nations Development Programme, International Labour Organization, UN Women has contributed to and promoted investigation and analysis into the social protection of women. The purpose of gender protection is to overcome social inequalities. It also promotes gender equality and women’s rights through advocacy campaigns which include the Beijing+20 platform and HeForShe, hosting workshops with civil society organizations, distributing information through social media and national events. UN Women established their training center in the Dominican Republic where it offers high-quality training for gender equality by offering courses, tools and services on topics like gender-based violence, the care economy and masculinity.

United States Government Recommendations

The United States Department of State has recommended various ways to combat sex trafficking. The State Department recommends that the government convict traffickers indiscriminately including government officials, fully fund, and implement a new national action plan. They also need to provide adequate support, resources and training to combat trafficking, especially in areas outside of Santo Domingo. The Department of State recommends implementing protocols to identify adult and child trafficking victims and get them protective services. It suggests that the Dominican government amend the 2003 anti-trafficking law so that proving force, fraud and coercion in victims under the age of 18 are no longer required; thus joining the international stage when it comes to sex trafficking.

The Dominican government’s response when it comes to victims of sex trafficking has been abysmal. The government has reportedly spent $545,500DOM when it comes to victim assistance, this equals to $10,920USD. NGOs have stated that victims’ services were “… ad hoc, minimal, and not well coordinated or specialized.”

Looking Forward

With so many members of the international community offering aid and advice on how to combat sex trafficking, it will be interesting to see of the new PRM administration under President Luis Abinader will continue to reject assistance or finally embrace it.

– Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Festival of MasksCabarete Sostenible began as a response to the COVID-19 crisis by providing emergency food aid to families in need in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Its Festival of Masks aimed to raise money for further emergency food relief efforts, community farming and educational initiatives for the community.

The Festival of Masks

A silent auction was held through 32auctions, an online forum, on October 30 and October 31. During this 24-hour event, limited edition photo prints of volunteers were auctioned alongside photo prints of the communities and businesses that the organization has helped to support through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Festival of Masks fundraiser fell short of its goal, it still managed to raise over $500. The money will be put toward providing meal packs to food-insecure individuals in Cabarete.

Impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the foundations of the global economy, the Dominican Republic had experienced steady economic growth. Between 2015 and 2019, the Dominican Republic’s Gross Domestic Product had increased at an average rate of about 6% each year. The Dominican Republic benefitted from the combined force of several crucial domestic industries such as mining, tourism and telecommunications. Foreign investment and remittances also contributed to the country’s economic growth.

The strength of the Dominican Republic’s domestic industries and its connection to foreign capital makes it likely that the country will make a post-pandemic rebound. How soon this resurgence will begin, however, is uncertain. In 2020, the country’s GDP is expected to decrease by over 4%. Additionally, the Dominican Republic’s economy is not expected to significantly reverse course in either 2021 or 2022.

While there is much hope for the health of the Dominican Republic’s economy in the long-term, the next two to three years will be difficult for those who live there. Particularly in places like Cabarete, where close to two-thirds of the local population depends on the tourism industry for employment, many people struggle to meet their basic needs during the pandemic.

Cabarete Sostenible Addresses Food Insecurity

Cabarete Sostenible’s Festival of Masks raised money for food insecure individuals in Cabarete by auctioning limited edition photo prints. The organization also provides food for the community through donations received.

The entire amount of money Cabarete Sostenible receives through donations goes toward food packaging and distribution. Donations of only $4 feed an individual for one week and donations of $15 feed a family of four for one week. With the money Cabarete Sostenible’s Festival of Masks raised, it will be able to feed 147 individuals for a week.

Hope for the Dominican Republic

It is predicted that it will take the next three years for the economy of the Dominican Republic to regain its footing. Until such time, organizations like Cabarete Sostenible and its Festival of Masks work to address food insecurity in the Dominican Republic and ensure the survival of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. With further monetary support, Cabarete Sostenible can have an even greater impact in the area.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful beaches, exquisite cuisine and all-inclusive resorts. Tourists can expect to witness beautiful sunsets and take amazing pictures during their stay. What tourists don’t see, however, is the crime, poverty and extreme homelessness in the Dominican Republic — a dark side to this island that must be brought to light.

5 Facts About Homelessness in the Dominican Republic

  1. Many homeless children are subject to violence and abuse. A homeless shelter in Santo Domingo named Niños Del Camino serves children from impoverished families. As of 2009, 77% of these children have experienced domestic violence. Children without a home are left unprotected and subject to abuse from people on the street, in a shelter or anywhere they can find a home.
  2. A significant percentage of children are homeless and need help. The Dominican National Council for Children and Adolescents serves about 19,000 children, out of the 4.7 million children that live in the Dominican Republic. Close to 600,000 children under age 15 lack parental care, and over 1 million children live in poverty. This means that far too many children in the Dominican Republic are homeless, and countless more are suffering from extreme poverty.
  3. Homeless children are referred to as “palomos.” The term comes from the Spanish word for dove, but it also refers to pests and nuisances. This name indicates how little homeless children mean to their country, and how desperately they must fend for themselves on the streets of the Dominican Republic.
  4. Street kids become desperate and turn to crime. When children are abandoned with nowhere to go, it makes sense that they turn to a life of crime. According to AmeriHand, “The longer they stay in the street, the more likely they are to start using and selling drugs, then escalate to armed robbery or other violent crime.” These kids have nothing to lose, so they do whatever they can to earn some money and get off the street.
  5. The National Council for Children and Adolescents is here to help the homeless children of the Dominican Republic. This organization aims to guarantee “the fundamental rights of children and adolescents and [promote] their development,” which includes helping them get off the street and back into their homes. The Council works with the government to increase the accountability of the government for vulnerable children in the Dominican Republic.

Palomos lead a life of sadness and poverty. These children get through difficult times by finding companions on the streets and sticking together. Most of children on the street are homeless for one of two reasons: either they were kicked out or abandoned by their family, or they left on their own accord after enduring horrible circumstances at home. While some children return home, others remain on the streets, subjected to the natural elements, abuse, muggings and other misfortunes. The Dominican Republic must do better for its homeless population, especially its children.

– Kate Estevez
Photo: Flickr

Charitable MLB Players The athletes playing in Major League Baseball (MLB) are utilizing their fame and athletic talents to help those in need around the world. Some of these players grew up in countries with extreme poverty. Baseball was used as a means to find a better life and return to help their home countries with charities and relief efforts. Others have visited poverty-stricken countries and chose to make a difference in unique ways to increase poverty awareness. Here are three charitable MLB players who are giving back.

Baseball Players Giving Back Around the World

Pedro Martinez – Dominican Republic

Considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Pedro Martinez was a dominant force on the mound throughout his 17-year Hall of Fame MLB career, which included a World Series win with the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Born in the Dominican Republic, Martinez saw first-hand the poverty that gripped his home country as he trained for life in baseball. When the coronavirus hit his home country, he took action and led the way with his organization, the Pedro Martinez Foundation, along with 40 other Dominican born MLB players. The group created a fund that has raised more than $550,000 for the relief efforts. This will pay for 5,000 food kits that last a total of two weeks each. It also will provide thirty-two thousand medical masks for doctors and nurses, 110,000 masks for citizens and 7,700 protective suits for medical personnel.

Dee Gordon- Rwanda

During a baseball game, Dee Gordon is best known for stealing bases. Throughout his decade-long career, he has stolen 330 bases, the most of any player in a 10-year period. The Seattle Mariners 2nd baseman has been using his talent for stealing bases to help increase poverty awareness to the hunger issues in the Ruhango district of Rwanda. Gordon has been associated with organizations such as Food for the Hungry, Strike Out Poverty and the Big League Impact Foundation for several years in order to help feed people in the Central African nation since 2019. As a charitable MLB player, every time he steals a base during a game there is a donation that he personally gives of $100 that goes toward one of these organizations to help feed the people of the Ruhango district. He has raised over $47,000 over the years to help impoverished nations all over the world including Rwanda. 

Carlos Carrasco- Venezuela

In 2019, Carlos Carrasco received the Roberto Clemente Award for his efforts in helping out his community in his home country of Venezuela and around the world. The Roberto Clemente Award is given out once a year to the MLB player that shows extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contribution, both on and off the field. Carrasco, a 33-year-old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has been donating money and supplies to help those in Venezuela suffering from the current economic crisis that has gripped the nation for years. In 2019 he donated $300,000 to Casa Venezuela Cucuta, an organization out of Columbia that helps recent Venezuelan migrants fleeing the crisis. Carrasco has also sent toys, medical supplies and baseball equipment to the children living in Venezuela. 

These three charitable MLB players show their dedication to increasing poverty awareness in countries that need it most. Through baseball, they have found fame and fortune. With that success, they have given back to communities all over the world by giving their time, money and efforts in creating a life for those without. 

Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in the Dominican RepublicSituated in the Caribbean and sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is home to nearly 11 million inhabitants. While health challenges persist, there have been many positive signs of progress in the past few decades in health care, funding, implementation and education that have resulted in a trend of higher life expectancy every year. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in the Dominican Republic.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in the Dominican Republic

  1. Life expectancy in the Dominican Republic has steadily increased over time. The average life expectancy will increase 6.99 percent from 2000 to 2020 according to projections by the U.N. Life expectancy from the time of birth in the country is currently 74.15 years of age.
  2. According to 2018 data collected by the World Health Organization, the leading causes of death in the Dominican Republic are coronary heart disease (19.85 percent), stroke (10.65 percent), prostate cancer (3.57 percent), HIV/AIDS-related illnesses (5.45 percent) and violence (5.51 percent).
  3. Infant mortality rates have dropped dramatically. Between 1990 and 2015, the infant mortality rate in the Dominican Republic fell by 50.3 percent due to expanded health coverage and immunization campaigns. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a priority gap for infant mortality rates of children under age 5 and maternal mortality. Infant mortality rates also decreased by 2.32 percent from 2019 to 2020.
  4. An increasing number of people are covered by health insurance. Between 2011 and 2015, 22 percent more of the population was covered by government-provided health insurance. In spite of higher out-of-pocket expenditures and gaps in services for a large portion of the population, the country is on track to universal coverage.
  5. There is greater access to safe drinking water. National and international groups developed programs in the past five years to improve coverage of clean and safe drinking water in the Dominican Republic, including the Drinking Water Monitoring System in 2015, which expanded monitoring in five provinces. On average, 86.8 percent of homes (urban and rural) have an improved water source.
  6. Natural disasters are being mitigated by better risk management systems. Because of its location, the Dominican Republic is ranked among the top 10 countries experiencing extreme weather due to hurricanes, tropical storms and seismic risk along tectonic plates. Since 2013, the incorporation of “disaster risk reduction” into laws and government systems has made the country a safer place to live, including Law 147-02 on risk management and the National Plan for Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management.
  7. Dominicans are more educated than ever before. As of 2016, the Dominican Republic had a literacy rate of 93.78 percent, up 1.79 percent from 2015. The mean number of years of schooling in 1990 was five. In 2014, it was recorded at 7.7 years.
  8. Greater attention is being placed on family planning and contraceptives. Around 99 percent of pregnant women in 2013 received prenatal care by a medical professional and 72 percent of partnered women used some form of contraception. Government resources combat adolescent pregnancies and promote family planning for women and couples. U.N. projections show the fertility rate (births per woman) declined 1.07 percent between 2019 and 2020, in line with yearly trends.
  9. Health services have been expanded to cover HIV treatment and prevention. Programs through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has offered assistance and services to the Dominican Ministry of Health for the past few decades to help prevent the transmission of HIV and offer treatment to those living with HIV. Between 2010 and 2014, the country increased antiretroviral coverage for populations living with HIV from 51 percent to 63 percent.
  10. Death by violence has declined over the past decade. Figures from the World Bank show that homicide rates decreased by 12.72 percent from 2014 to 2016 in the Dominic Republic. Since 2014, death by violence or other external causes has become a major concern, sparking the creation of public initiatives such as the Public Safety 9-1-1 Emergency Systems launched in Santo Domingo.

Considerable progress in life expectancy and quality of life have been made in the Dominican Republic in spite of new and old challenges to health and wellbeing. Data shows that in all these areas, overall improvements on the part of the Dominican government, as well as international organizations, have contributed to a steady improvement of living conditions.

– Caleb Cummings
Photo: Flickr

Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in the Dominican RepublicOver the past 25 years, the Dominican Republic (DR) has been one of the most successful countries for economic growth in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. In 2017 alone, the economy expanded by 5.2 percent. With that, poverty levels decreased from 42.2 percent in 2012 to 30.5 percent in 2016. Regardless of the fact that the DR economy is improving, some of their roads and highways are lagging behind the progress and causing questionable road infrastructure in the Dominican Republic.

With five highways connecting to all major cities of the country, there has been an emphasis on keeping the roads in good condition. These roads stay well-paved and maintained in order to keep driving conditions safer and to promote tourism. The well-paved roads are accessed through tolls. These toll payments range from RD$35 to RD$412, depending on which highway is taken. This amount is equivalent to USD$0.73 and $8.57 respectively.

Once off toll roads, though, road conditions are not maintained to the same standard. The roads may or may not be paved, but both present problems for drivers. On paved roads, poor lane markers, missing manhole covers, potholes or unmarked speed bumps are just some of the issues that drivers may face while they are driving during the day or at night. On unpaved roads, loose gravel and potholes test a car’s ability to stay on the road. It is recommended to drive with four-wheel drive on these roads because of their unpredictable conditions.

There is much room for investment for road infrastructure in the Dominican Republic. The construction of toll roads has improved driving conditions because of the ability to drive on well-kept roads, but there are still concerns about highways and rural roads that are not getting as much attention.

The Dominican Liberation Party has been a major investor in projects that aim to improve road infrastructure in the Dominican Republic. Towns such as Las Terrenas, which are not considered typical tourist towns, have seen some improvements to its roads in order to attract more tourists. The roads have become driveable and allow for easier travel for tourists.

Other improvements come in the form of public transit. Increasing public transportation methods takes more cars off the road and offers a safer way to get to and from destinations. Taxis, buses and metro stations are among the most common and easiest ways to get around the Dominican Republic. Until the poorly maintained rural roads receive better attention from the DR government, using public transit is a potential option for residents and tourists.

As the economy continues to improve, it is hopeful that road infrastructure in the Dominican Republic follows suit.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr