Posts

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

Development Projects in the Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic has many ongoing development projects occurring throughout the country. Some projects are government funded, while others are funded by nonprofits or international organizations, like the World Bank. In a country with 10.2 million people, there are still many living in poverty and many who are underprivileged. The tourist economy does a lot to benefit the nation, but more needs to be done to meet the needs of the people. Here are five development projects in the Dominican Republic that aim to help the people of the country. 

The World Bank’s Dominican Republic Youth Development Program

The stated goal of the program is to “[improve] the employability of poor, at-risk youth by building their work experience and life skills and expanding second chance education programs to complete their formal education.” The program aims to improve job opportunities, access to education and social protections.

Through participating in the project, youth learn basic workforce skills and attain an education. The program has been fairly successful as it has met most of the intermediate result indicators. Thus far, not all the goals have been met: one goal is that 70 percent of students obtain a new degree, but so far only 63 percent have. However, the initial results indicate that the program has had a positive impact on youth and has taken a significant step forward to bolstering the job force in the Dominican Republic.

The Peace Corps’ Education Program

The Peace Corps has been working on improving Spanish among children in the Dominican Republic. This program has led to the collaboration between teachers and Peace Corps volunteer to help students succeed. Specifically, the project aims to address Spanish literacy, with a primary goal to involve the community so that students can learn to read and write in their language.

The DREAM Project

The DREAM Project was founded in order to make up for the lack of resources in schools of the Dominican Republic. Their programs consist of working with children in early childhood education and primary school education, as well as contributing to a holistic youth development. They also have summer camps and vocational training. According to the DREAM Project’s website, the organization “provides more than 800,000 hours of quality education to more than 7,500 children through 14 different programs across 27 communities in the Dominican Republic.”

USAID’s Dominican Republic Sustainable Tourism Alliance

Although the Dominican Republic has a large tourism industry, the industry has had negative impacts on the local community and environment of the island. In order to combat poverty and environmental issues, USAID created the Dominican Republic Sustainable Tourism Alliance (DSTA) to develop a more sustainable tourism industry.

The DSTA works to improve environmental management capabilities as well as stimulating tourism efforts through sustainable operations and the development of marketing and sales strategies. The “all-inclusive” model that the tourism industry currently has is changing quickly under this development project.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE works to combat the high maternal and infant mortality rates in the Dominican Republic. The organization just opened its third maternal child health clinic in 2017. The organization regularly works with the Dominican Association of the Order of Malta to train workers to care for mothers and children.

Thousands of women and children have been positively affected by the care provided by the organization and its partners. In addition to its work with maternal mortality, the organization has worked on village health bank programs and provided HIV/AIDS education and counseling.

Many organizations are concerned with developing job opportunities for the citizens of the Dominican Republic. They aim to bolster the economy and train a future working class. These five development projects in the Dominican Republic operate across several sectors to help the nation achieve long-lasting self-sufficiency and prosperity.

– Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr

Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic, a country that has been fighting severe poverty for decades, is making strides towards reducing poverty through multiple aspects of their society. One method in particular that has had success is by precipitating development through education. The Dominican Republic, like many developing nations, is working with organizations such as UNICEF and the Ministries of Health and Education to create a plan for education in the Dominican for the future.

The Dominican Republic is now set to be declared free from illiteracy by the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as only 176,000 Dominicans remain illiterate. Presidency Administrative minister José Ramón Peralta reported that 110,000 of those still illiterate are already enrolled in literacy centers and the remaining people are in the process of doing so.

Additionally, the Dominican Republic has taken steps to reduce the rampant rates of child marriage that cause so much poverty. More than a third of young women get married between the ages of 18 and 22 or form an informal union before age 18, which not only poses a moral issue but also an economic issue.

Limited access to education, especially among girls, is a main contributor to this issue. Many of these girls do not have access to education and therefore have few options besides marrying young. Supporting legislation such as the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act that works to provide primary and secondary education to girls in vulnerable areas can help deter child marriages and reduce poverty.

A joint effort to promote sustainability and development through education is underway in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Haitian Embassy is calling for Dominican students to submit a reflection on strategies and goals for the struggles they face and how to create a better society. Such an effort is not a quick fix solution, but is a way of promoting thinking that propels people to action. In the Dominican, this thinking has already led to results that will improve the quality of life for its citizens in the future.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in the Dominican Republic
A 2016 World Bank Report states that, despite the Dominican Republic’s status as one of the countries with the greatest growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, one in every three citizens is poor.

While there was a substantial decrease in poverty from 36.4 percent to 32.3 percent in 2015, the country is still in dire need of reform and aid. With limited access to healthcare, proper sanitation and developing industries outside of tourism, citizens often have little socioeconomic mobility. As a result, President Danilo Medina declared that reducing this extreme, widespread poverty is the key goal in the country’s 2016-2020 plans.

Although an April 2017 World Bank report did state that the business and investing climate has improved alongside access to social services, there is still a great need for improvement.

However, there are three organizations that are directly addressing and helping alleviate the issues plaguing the island. By doing so, they are showing not only U.S. citizens, but anyone concerned, how to help people in the Dominican Republic:

The Mariposa DR Foundation
Inspired by the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, this organization seeks to minimize both the gender gap and generational poverty through the education and empowerment of young girls. The organization assists in funding the education, health and empowerment of a girl, as “she will reinvest 90 percent of her income back into her family and her community, making her the most influential figure in the today’s world.” The Mariposa DR Foundation invests in girls’ education, enforces community engagement and service and provides a well-rounded health program to each girl. The foundation believes its model can be easily recreated in other poverty-stricken communities across the globe.

Many donations, volunteers (which include countless U.S. college students) and a capital campaign keep the young foundation afloat. The investment the Mariposa DR Foundation currently helps over 100 girls in more than 35 families while giving the Dominican Republic an educated generation of girls to round out their industries.

Sister Island Project
This organization’s mission is to foster “community empowerment, cultural exchange, diversity and equity awareness and action supporting social justice and compassion in the Dominican Republic and the U.S.” The project provides access to health care, education, creative outlets, political empowerment and safe housing to people in the Cruz Verde village and the Yabacao region. Volunteers keep the project going by teaching classes and helping build homes. Many volunteers are helping while staying in the U.S. by holding fundraisers and raising awareness.

The project maintains a learning center where health and education classes are taught. Sister Island Project has also built houses for community members, given scholarships to university students, coordinated micro-enterprise projects and distributed over a ton of donations. Sister Island is lifting communities up with an integrated approach.

The DREAM Project 
Based upon six values (integrity, opportunity, inclusion, quality, sustainability and transparency), the DREAM Project focuses on “early childhood education, high-quality primary education and holistic youth development.” Volunteers for the DREAM Project come from all over the U.S. and are never too young; a six-year-old can donate pencils and a girl once raised funds for the project at her bat mitzvah. With 14 programs in 27 different communities, the project is aiding over 7,000 children in the Dominican Republic. It promotes change first through early childhood education, then quality primary education, both of which lead to a holistic youth development in adolescence. This approach results in youth who are better-equipped with decision-making skills and job training, which creates more opportunities for success. With more opportunities for success and higher-quality education, poverty can be reduced in a generational way.

By donating to, volunteering for or simply raising awareness for these organizations, people can help these impoverished communities and subsequently show others how to help people in the Dominican Republic in more substantial ways.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in the Dominican RepublicWith places like Punta Cana, it is no wonder that the Dominican Republic is a popular tourist destination. The Dominican Republic appears to have everything, from sandy beaches to high mountain peaks. The beautiful landscape of Dominican Republic may set it apart from other countries, but like the rest of the world, it is not immune to medical issues. Here are three of the most common diseases in the Dominican Republic:

1. Schistosomiasis

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), schistosomiasis spreads through parasitic worms that are in infested water. People in poorer communities are more vulnerable to this disease because they are more likely to drink from or bathe in contaminated waters. Symptoms of intestinal schistosomiasis involve abdominal pain and diarrhea. The main symptom of urogenital schistosomiasis is blood in urine. In the Dominican Republic, intestinal schistosomiasis is the most common form of the disease.

Fortunately, taking Praziquantel, an anti-parasite medication, for a few days can treat schistosomiasis. Since there is only a limited amount of the prescription drug available, the WHO has been advocating for more access to the medication. With increased Praziquantel availability, more people that have schistosomiasis are being treated.

2. HIV/AIDS

As the Caribbean country with the second most reported HIV cases, it is clear that HIV is a problem in the Dominican Republic. However, that doesn’t mean that the country’s health officials and government aren’t working on fixing it.

Out of all of the countries that comprise the Caribbean and Latin America, only eight have needle and syringe programs (NSPs), and the Dominican Republic is one of them. NSPs provide people who inject drugs with sterile needles and syringes. Since HIV can be transmitted through unsanitary needles and syringes, NSPs help reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

Although there is no cure for HIV/AIDS yet, there is a significant amount of research being done to find one. Recently, researchers successfully edited the genomes of infected mice, in which they eliminated most of the disease from the animals. Although genome editing is more complicated when humans are involved, there is still a possibility of it being successful.

 In addition to NSPs reducing HIV/AIDS transmission and research being done to find a cure, there are also ways to control the disease. People with HIV can take antiretroviral therapy (ART) to slow down the progression of the disease.

3. Malaria

The Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria. Symptoms of the disease include chills and high fever. Malaria treatment is all about timing. If detected early, it can be treated with antimalarial medication. However, the disease can be fatal if it goes unnoticed and untreated.

In 2015 alone, malaria caused 438,000 deaths worldwide. While that number is very large, it is actually a decrease from the estimated 584,000 malaria deaths in 2013. In the Dominican Republic, indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides is used to kill disease-spreading mosquitos, which helps prevent initial infection.

Although these three diseases are some of the most common diseases in the Dominican Republic, there are others. Many different organizations are working toward the mutual goal of eliminating both uncommon and common diseases in the Dominican Republic.

Raven Rentas
Photo: Flickr

Educational Challenges of the Dominican StatelessThe Dominican Republic denies thousands of children access to education due to nationality laws rendering them stateless. The educational challenges of the Dominican stateless, many of them of Haitian descent, are both varied and continuous.

Since the 1990s, many Dominicans of Haitian descent have encountered difficulties proving their citizenship. A court ruling in 2013 exacerbated these struggles by retroactively declaring immigrants and their descendants to be noncitizens from 1929 forward. This left generations of Dominican people unable to receive healthcare, education or employment, most of which requires proof of citizenship.

A report from the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute gathered information about the educational challenges of the Dominican stateless through interviews and analysis of the Dominican Republic’s education policies. According to the report, schools refuse to enroll students or administer state examinations without birth certificates or proof of nationality. Bureaucratic hurdles and arbitrary enforcement of the nationality law stall the efforts to remedy this.

A consequence of the Dominican stateless’ inability to attain an education is a lack of high-quality jobs. The Guardian discusses how many migrant descendants work in menial jobs like domestic work by force. Employers also often subject them to abuse or long hours due to the lack of legal protections.

The educational challenges of the Dominican stateless especially affect the young people. Yolanda Alcino, a young Dominican descended from Haitian migrants, told The Guardian how she and other Dominican stateless are “discriminated against, and without education, without work, life is more difficult in almost every way.”

In response to this issue, Dominican stateless have protested for their rights. Young people have met with government officials and developed petitions that implore the government to uphold equal rights.

International governments and organizations have also condemned the Dominican Republic for its actions and inaction. As reported in Refugees Deeply, although the country has adopted the New York Declaration, it has not honored the Declaration’s requirement of providing education to all youth.

The domestic and international response to the educational challenges of the Dominican stateless has helped influence the Dominican Republic to modify nationality laws. According to Refugees Deeply, the country will acknowledge the children of undocumented immigrants as citizens if they have a verified birth certificate or go through the process of naturalization.

Despite this, the processes have the same problems: they require too much time and are arbitrarily applied. With the legal, vocational, economic and educational challenges of the Dominican stateless, the Dominican Republic has a lot to remedy.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Pixabay

Human Rights in the Dominican Republic
Often seen as simply a tropical getaway to Americans, an enduring battle for the reform of human rights in the Dominican Republic rages on.

The Dominican Republic consumes two-thirds of the Caribbean Island Hispaniola and has a population of over 10.6 million. Violations of human rights in the Dominican Republic are unfortunately regular occurrences regarding issues of nationality, migration, prison conditions, violence against women, reproductive rights and issues of sexual orientation and marriage laws.

In 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Tribune ruled to strip the citizenship of migrants from other countries. Although President Danilo Medina attempted to counteract this decision in 2014, it still affected tens of thousands of people. Many fear deportation, as their citizenship is still up in the air.

Seemingly, 66 thousand Haitian immigrants returned to Haiti under voluntary classification. Human rights advocates argue that many of these individuals were actually forced to leave, or fled due to fears of mob violence.

Prisons in the Dominican Republic continue to fill up past capacity. The largest prison, La Victoria, has a capacity of two thousand, but as of August 2016, housed eight thousand inmates.

The number of people killed by police officers continues to rise. Although there is thorough evidence that the killings are often unlawful, the officers most often go unpunished. The Dominican Republic officially adopted a police reform plan but never made it public or implemented it.

In 2014, the Dominican Republic voted to legalize abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformations, and life threatening circumstances to the woman. However, the high court counteracted the decision in December of that year. Abortions are once again acknowledged as crimes under all circumstances.

Violence toward women and members of the LGBT community are increasing throughout the country. LGBT rights groups report discriminatory murders of transgender individuals.

The lack of support from within the country is a vicious obstacle, but thankfully organizations such as Amnesty International continuously fight for human rights in the Dominican Republic.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in the Dominican Republic
According to the World Bank, the Dominican Republic has experienced one of the most remarkable growth seasons in the Caribbean in the last 25 years. Official estimates say that the number of Dominicans living in poverty dropped by almost six percent from 2014 to 2016. Although the country has made strides in the business front, they still have much to accomplish to stay competitive with other nations in the region.

A country is not just poor randomly, meaning factors contribute to the poverty rates in the country. Below are some of the causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Increasing Population
The population of the country has been steadily increasing for decades.  It has risen by two million people since 2000 and is currently over 10.6 million inhabitants. A rising population also raises living standards, can make jobs harder to find and, in some cases, can keep young women from finishing their education.

Improper Documentation
Dominicans of Haitian descent are the poorest in the country and usually live close to the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. Low incomes and poor living conditions keep them in a cycle of poverty, and social exclusion does not help the most vulnerable families. Dominicans of Haitian descent are usually undocumented or migrant sugar cane plantation workers, which means they do not receive aid from social assistance programs.

Ignored Agricultural Sector
In the past decade, the Dominican Republic government has focused on building the tourism and service industries, virtually ignoring the agriculture sector of the economy. Without government investment in the small farms so that they can provide for their families, many farmers have to look for jobs elsewhere. Farming technologies have begun to make their way to rural communities, which will potentially increase productivity.

Natural Disasters
Recent research has found that natural disasters (such as drought, extreme rainfall and flooding) are and will be the biggest factors in keeping people in poverty.

Because most developing governments invest money in responding to disasters as opposed to protecting citizens from the inevitable, the poorest citizens lose more when that disaster hits. Having policies that highlight disaster prevention can potentially save the country millions of dollars and give the poor more of a chance to survive.

These are just some of the causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic. Understanding the poverty of a country is an ongoing process, so staying updated is a way to ensure you know how to help a country when it needs it. The causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic can change with the economy, and hopefully, this beautiful country will continue moving toward stability.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

Why Is the Dominican Republic PoorWith more than 800 miles of coastline, the six million tourists that visited the Dominican Republic in 2016 would likely attest to the country’s great beauty. However, not all is well on the island nation. One in three Dominicans and half of Dominican youths are either poor or live below the poverty line. With an increase in tourism flowing to the island, it stands to reason to ask “why is the Dominican Republic poor?”

According to a 2014 World Bank Report on Dominican inequality, only 2 percent of the population climbed to a higher income group, as opposed to the Latin American and Caribbean average of 41 percent. The 2003-2004 Dominican economic crisis is partly to blame. Several Dominican banks collapsed and the Dominican Peso experienced severe inflation. While the economy has recovered from the crisis, the nation’s poorest residents have been left behind.

As recently as 2013, according to the Palma ratio, the wealthiest 10 percent of Dominicans earn as much as 2.5 times as the bottom 40 percent. In the U.S., that earning disparity is only 1.9.

Why is the Dominican Republic poor? Poor Dominicans have it especially bad in urban areas. The cost of living is so high in urban areas that the Dominican minimum wage has failed to keep pace. At 8,310 Dominican Pesos (DOP) per month, roughly $175, many residents have a hard time covering the basic necessities.

Access to basic education is another issue that needs addressing when answering the question “why is the Dominican Republic poor?” Many kids simply drop out of school to help provide for their families. Children that do attend schools must cope with overcrowding and inexperienced teachers. Failure to receive an education lends itself to several problems and has been linked to an increased teen pregnancy rate on the island.

Fortunately for the Dominican Republic, GDP per capita has been steadily growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, due in part to an injection of American tourism dollars. In December 2016, President Danilo Medina promised to redouble efforts to include the country’s poorest citizens in the economic boom, and increase spending on the nation’s public school system.

The World Bank has suggested that the government make direct investments in both informational and physical infrastructure that promote upward mobility and increase access to the expanding labor market. This could include expanding access to the internet and investment in the nation’s schools and teachers.

In answering the question of why the Dominican Republic is poor, we must understand that while the island nation itself isn’t poor, problems of wealth inequality and barriers to accessing information and education still persist. But, the Dominican government is not oblivious to these problems. Through investment in infrastructure and the expanding labor market, the government hopes to raise the incomes of its poorest citizens.

Tj Anania

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation with white sandy beaches, tropical fruit and happy people. However, while the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is relatively low, many of its citizens live in poverty.

The cost of living in the Dominican Republic is 32.74 percent lower than in the United States. Their currency is called the Dominican Peso. As of 2017, one Dominican Peso is equal to 0.021 United States Dollar. The cost of living in the Dominican Republic is thus relatively cheap compared to living in the United States.

For Dominicans who want to leave the Dominican Republic, challenges arise because the exchange rate is quite high. As for tourists, it is usually cheaper to vacation in the Dominican Republic because of the inflated value of their money.

The Dominican Republic has an incredibly high poverty rate. In fact, a third of the nation’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and more than 20 percent live in extreme poverty.

For the poor, it is extremely hard to escape the cycle of poverty. Though the tourism market provides some income, it is definitely not enough.

As for a middle-class Dominican, it is fairly inexpensive to live in the Dominican Republic. According to Numbeo, rent is about 70 percent lower in the Dominican Republic than in the United States. Regarding healthcare, it remains one of the cheapest systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Although the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is somewhat inexpensive, the nation also suffers from a high crime rate.

Much of the poverty is due to a lack of governmental organization. The Dominican Republic’s government focuses more on tourism and less on its citizens’ welfare. Even though the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is cheap, it can still be expensive for the poor.

Francis Hurtado

Photo: Flickr