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Poverty in the Dominican Republic
Although the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest-growing economies since the year 2000, it still struggles with income inequality and a high poverty rate of 30 percent as of 2016. Diversification in the past three decades is strengthening the economy and improving tourism and infrastructure. Despite this, the poverty rate remains fairly high. The following describes five ways to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic and bring income equality to Dominicans.

5 Ways to Reduce Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Government Transparency: Transparency International ranks the Dominican Republic 129 out of 180 countries based on public sector corruption. The ranking demonstrates a failure to control corruption. A lack of transparency dissuades external and internal investors from investment. Under-the-table bribery creates an economy that thrives on bribery instead of honest, hard-working individuals. Active enforcement of laws and corruption-reducing policies could help draw investors to the developing economy and spur faster future growth. In an effort to reduce corruption, the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, updated its Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act in 2017 to include the definition of money laundering to crimes including copyright, tax evasion and avoidance and counterfeiting.
  2. Infrastructure Development: Once an agriculture-based economy, the Dominican Republic has transitioned into a diversified economy. Mining, trade, tourism, manufacturing, telecommunications, finance and services make up more than 90 percent of the country’s GDP. The remaining 10 percent is in agriculture. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress in infrastructure, frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea destroy many roads, bridges and docks. The country especially overlooks damage in rural areas, where there is a prominence of poverty. To reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic, investment in repairing areas, such as farmland that hurricanes destroyed, can help alleviate issues and provide easy access to markets. More than 98 percent of the country has access to electricity, yet the reliability is questionable. Frequent outages in rural and urban areas are common. The government owns and operates electricity, and the unreliability is a constant complaint from Dominicans. A more reliable, widespread and affordable electrical grid would open the country to faster development, and a side effect would be additional jobs in the privatized electric companies.
  3. Education Inequality: Inequality is a major issue in the Dominican Republic. Insufficient income reduces the probability of receiving an education and health care. It also happens to be one reason for high illiteracy rates amongst the poor. About 26 percent of the poorest Dominicans are literate. A lack of education is a huge barrier to rising out of poverty. Adding programs to help enable universal access to education can help the poor and, as a result, grant skills and expertise to help the Dominican economy grow.
  4. Health: Another way to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic is to improve the health care industry. The Ministry of Public Health and Public Welfare administer public services. In 2007, 36 percent had to pay the entirety for public service that is supposed to be free but is not exactly. Only 12 percent of Dominicans report that all or part of the service qualifies for coverage. Cost of public health care is especially a barrier to women, the elderly and the poor. Reducing costs could help reduce the 30 percent poverty rate.
  5. Utilizing Competitive Advantages: Top exports include gold, tobacco, knit t-shirts, low-voltage protection equipment and medical instruments. Competition in the marketplace can increase productivity, a major issue in low-income economies. Utilizing competitive advantages enables the country to produce products for less money and sell them in the current country at a reasonable cost. Poor households would pay less for the products made in the Dominican Republic and therefore would help reduce poverty.

A negative trade balance of $8 billion expresses a need to create and export more products in order to improve the business climate and reduce costs to Dominican consumers. Active humanitarian involvement and utilization of its competitive advantages could help boost growth and bring Dominicans out of poverty.

Efforts to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic are making great strides. President Medina is combating government corruption and the economy is diversifying. Additionally, improving infrastructure and adding jobs, as well as access to education and health care will aid the Dominican Republic in poverty reduction and economic well being.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

One in Three Going Hungry in the Dominican Republic
Close to one-third of the population in the Dominican Republic lives below the poverty line. With a thriving population of 10.65 million people, this means about 3.25 million are hungry in the Dominican Republic.

Nearly thirty years ago, the Dominican Republic was the fastest growing Latino economy in the world. And in the eyes of most tourists today, it still is. However, in 2003 the country succumbed to an economic crisis.

According to a report by the New York Times, Banco Intercontinental (Baninter Bank), Dominican Republic’s second-largest bank, collapsed due to greed and corruption, leaving the value of the peso almost null and void and the country’s economy in economic shock—2.2 billion dollars-worth of shock. In short, the government crumbled, prices skyrocketed and the countries dollar was almost worthless.

Years later, there has still been no recovery for the average worker. The bailout for the fallout went to the country’s wealthiest people, while the regular working class—thousands of citizens—were left jobless and hungry in the Dominican Republic. The country has failed to uplift fleeting growth sectors like mining, agriculture and education, which brings income to Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian immigrants.

To make matters worse, in 2013 the highest court in the Dominican Republic ruled to exclude citizenship to children of migrant Haitians who were born after 1929. This ruling forced thousands, including children, from the country and left others trapped in poverty in the Dominican Republic while they hope to one day become documented citizens again. Since that ruling, almost 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent have applied for citizenship. Few have become citizens.

According to a 2017 economic report on the Dominican Republic, the economy is rising and job sectors are slowing increasing because of tourism. But it still does not address a resolution to solving severe hunger in the country.

The biggest hurdle to helping the hungry in the Dominican Republic is overcoming the inequality of wealth distribution. The World Food Programme reported that while the Dominican Republic (DR) is one of the highest ranked upper-middle-income countries in the world, 40 percent of its people still live in poverty. By fairly distributing wealth to the urban areas of the DR, areas occupied by Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants, the country could see a return from poverty.

The DR’s failing education system is another cause of poverty in the country. The country’s educations system does not rank well among those in other countries, mainly due to the absence of financial investment in its schools. Poverty affects the ability to learn. Adding a failing education system sets an additional snare, making it twice as difficult for poor people to escape poverty. Urban areas, in particular, have to endure substandard education.

All of this can change for the Dominican Republic. If the government continues to press for the quashing of economic inequality in the country and makes continual efforts to invest in education, this beautiful country can become more than just a tourist site.

– Naomi C. Kellogg

Photo: Flickr

Albert Pujols Helping the Impoverished in the Dominican Republic
Albert Pujols is a successful professional baseball player who has won many baseball accolades. He is a two-time World Series champion, three-time National League MVP and nine-time National League All-Star who has won, among other things, National League Rookie of the Year and National League Gold Glove for first base.

But his work is not limited to baseball; he is also giving back to those in need in his native Dominican Republic.

Pujols, who was formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals and is currently playing for the Los Angeles Angels, began the Pujols Family Foundation (PFF) as a way to give back to those around him.

PFF works in two main areas: in the U.S. for those with Down Syndrome, including his daughter, and in the Dominican Republic for those that live in poverty.

The Dominican Republic’s population is over 10 million and the World Bank classifies the country as upper middle class. Even so, there are millions of people living in slums and “bateys.”

“Bateys” are villages made of shacks and dirt roads. They are near sugar cane plantations, which is where those living in the bateys typically work. Children leave school at a young age to help their parents in the fields cutting sugar cane. The workers get paid by the pound of sugar cane cut, not by the amount of time spent in the field.

PFF works to bring educational opportunities, medical care, and basic necessities to the people living in poverty.

The foundation’s work includes:

  • Full medical mission teams in seven bateys, teams that have “medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, pediatricians and a full pharmacy” (PFF).
  • A baseball league for young boys that includes mentorship alongside the sport to build them into strong men, fathers, and leaders.
  • The Pa’Lante program, which teaches women trades and skills that can be used for employment away from the batey.
  • Project Sound Asleep, “where [PFF] provide[s] new, clean, dry bedding for people to sleep” (PFF).

How can one help this great organization? PFF is a nonprofit foundation that relies on individual donations for support. Their website lists lots of ways to help out, but two unique ways are directly related to Pujols and his work on the baseball field.

PFF is an active charity on FantasyHub. By playing fantasy sports and linking to PFF, one can donate a portion of any winnings to the foundation and its work.

Alternatively, one can make a Home Run Pledge linking one’s personal giving to the number of home runs Pujols hits. As of the end of June, Pujols has hit 23 home runs for the Angels. A potential donor can look at the stat box and follow a great ball player while pledging to help those in need.

PFF has helped many people at home and abroad. Their work with those with Down Syndrome is exemplary, and the fact that PFF goes back to the Dominican Republic and actively works to improve the lives of those in poverty is inspiring.

So much good can happen when people use their influence and resources to help better the lives of the economically disadvantaged as Albert Pujols does.

– Megan Ivy

Sources: Fox News Latino, Huffington Post, MLB, Pujols Family Foundation, WHO