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Poverty in GrenadaGrenada, an island country in the Caribbean Sea, is known for its beautiful tourist attractions and flourishing spice trade. Unfortunately, poverty in Grenada affects almost one-third of its 107,000 residents.

The World Bank estimates that 32% of Grenada’s residents live below the poverty line. In addition, 13% of the population is considered “extremely poor.”

Dr. Elinor Garely of eTN notes that Grenada’s poorest residents are located in the rural regions of the country. She explains that this is due to inadequate access to the mainstream economy.

The mainstream economy is based on tourism and spice exportation, among other products. Grenada also depends on foreign aid. Without suitable access to the main cities and these economic opportunities, the rural communities suffer.

Youth in Grenada

Grenada’s demographic is quite young, with one-fourth of the population under the age of 14. The poverty in Grenada impacts youth most of all. In fact, Garely explains that 66.4% of the poor are under 24 years of age.

Due to a lack of birth control resources, there are high numbers of teen pregnancy, which often correlates to violence against children.

Physical and sexual abuse have emerged as the main issues facing the children of Grenada. More than one-third of children in Grenada have suffered from sexual violence. Women and children experience significant abuse due to the lack of laws against physical punishment.

Causes of Poverty in Grenada

Poverty in Grenada is linked to a number of different factors. With inadequate defenses against natural disasters, ineffective education and unprepared workers, poverty is “entrenched in the very fiber of the country.”

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, frequently threaten the small island. The last two hurricanes occurred in 2004 and 2005. Hurricane Ivan hit first and devastated the majority of Grenadian homes. A year later, Hurricane Emily swept through the area, furthering the damage not yet repaired from Hurricane Ivan. However, significantly fewer lives were lost, as the Grenadian people took important precautions that had been neglected during Hurricane Ivan.

Education and unprepared workers are two other causes of poverty in Grenada, and they go hand in hand. Without proper education, the youth do not have the necessary skills to get jobs that offer livable pay. The jobs that are available, mainly agricultural, do not appeal to the youth because of “perceived instability, [the youths’] lack of interest in physical labor and very low wages,” according to Garely.

It would be more beneficial for the Grenadian youth to work in the tourism sector, but, unfortunately, it requires skills that many residents lack.

Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Grenada

The government is making strides to alleviate many of the issues that stem from or cause poverty in Grenada.

While it currently lacks enough funds to be effective, Grenada does have “a system to place orphans and children with domestic problems with other families.” In addition, laws are in place to protect girls from sexual assault. However, boys still remain vulnerable.

The country has taken important steps to defend against natural disasters. Creating a plan for natural disasters became a priority after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Emily. The change was seen immediately in how the people of Grenada reacted differently to Hurricane Emily after experiencing Hurricane Ivan; “the rush contrasted with the attitude before Ivan, when Grenadians took few precautions.”

While Grenada is still improving its ability to defend against natural disasters and internal issues such as violence, it has wonderful potential.

Abbey Lawrence
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Grenada
Although commonly recognized as a vacation destination, Grenada is a country suffering from poverty in its rural regions. Poverty in Grenada has been a struggle for decades due to the island’s small size, vulnerability to natural disasters and lack of skilled laborers within its rural population.

According to the World Bank, 32% of Grenada’s 107,000 people are considered poor, and 13% are considered extremely poor.

Poverty in Grenada is most visible in rural areas because small, rural communities don’t have access to Grenada’s mainstream economy, which relies heavily on international trade for growth. In rural areas, farming is the most common profession, especially among older individuals. The average age among farmers is 54 for women and 48 for men.

Workers in the agriculture industry are greatly impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes. When storms hit, agriculture-based businesses such as farms and fisheries may suffer severe damages. This vulnerability makes it nearly impossible for agricultural workers to overcome poverty.

Increasing numbers of Grenada’s youth are staying away from the agriculture industry because of its perceived instability. Within Grenadian agricultural industries, wages are so low that “workers can do hardly more than survive,” according to a Grenada Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy document.

While Grenada’s younger populations generally prefer careers in the successful tourism industry, many lack the professional skills they need. Many young people find it difficult to enter an industry other than farming because of illiteracy or lack of access to education.

Unemployment is a major factor contributing to ongoing rural poverty in Grenada. The country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Caribbean.

According to the Rural Poverty Portal, the unemployment rate decreased from 24.4 % in 2008 to about 15%. Since the global financial crisis in 2008, several steps have been taken to alleviate poverty in Grenada.

 

International Aid Fighting Poverty in Grenada

 

In 2011, the U.N. rural development agency signed an agreement to “co-finance a $7.5 million project” to aid 12,000 impoverished people in Grenada.

As part of the agreement, the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development loaned $3 million to the six-year Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme. U.N. contributions have created jobs, improved market access and supported rural micro-enterprise projects in 50 Grenadian communities.

In November 2015, the World Bank approved a $15 million loan to aid Grenada. The loan will be used to improve natural disaster resilience, public resource management, the banking sector and private investment sustainability. Stronger ties between tourism and agriculture will also be established in order to distribute more wealth to rural areas.

At the 46th Annual Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) board of governors meeting in May 2016, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell praised the CDB for providing major financial assistance over the last decade in support of social and financial programs.

Looking to the future, Mitchell stated that progress can continue to be made with the CDB’s help to alleviate rural poverty in Grenada as well as in every Caribbean nation.

Alex Fidler

Photo: Flickr