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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Poverty Rate
The nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is both small and beautiful, made up of 32 islands and landforms in the south Caribbean. It is known mainly as a peaceful island destination: a place to swim, snorkel and enjoy the view. Yet despite this reputation, the country is struggling to support its own population. Even taking into consideration recent economic improvements, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate remains shockingly high: as of 2008, 30.2 percent of the population was living in poverty.

This already disturbing rate is relatively low in comparison to that of 1996, when the rate was even higher, at 37.5 percent. While the country’s GDP has grown steadily since the 1980s, particularly thanks to the construction industry and the “banana boom” of the ’80s, trade access for the country’s most important crop, bananas, has been waning ever since and the national debt has only grown. As of 2009, the debt was roughly 60 percent of the GDP.

This lack of economic activity in addition to trade difficulty has led to high rates of both unemployment and underemployment, with many citizens turning away from traditional employment and to the underground market, such as growing and selling marijuana.

Though the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate has dropped in recent years, many people feel the opposite effect. In 2008, 44.3 percent of citizens polled felt that conditions had worsened compared to previous years, perhaps to due to the rise of food and fuel prices around the same time.

In addition to economic difficulties, the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines suffer from a lack of health coverage. In 2008, only 9.4 percent of the population was covered by health insurance, and coverage is still rare even among the wealthiest in the nation. Teen pregnancy, meanwhile, is extremely common, with half of the country’s women reporting their first pregnancy before the age of 19. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has long had a plan to put a national health insurance program into place, but the plan has experienced countless delays, and as of 2017, the plan has yet to be enacted.

Though the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate looks grim, the country intends to take steps to remedy it. First on lawmaker’s minds is diversification and expansion of the economy, which would ensure that the country’s economy would not rely on bananas alone. Other key projects include paying off the national debt, expansion of national infrastructure and developing a health care system. These are no small feats to accomplish, but the country is committed to helping its citizens.

Audrey Palzkill

Hunger in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation in the Caribbean. Most are unaware that while the population teeters just over 100,000, the country includes 32 different islands. It is also home to an active volcano and some of the most fertile soil in the world. Interestingly, the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean films were filmed in Saint Vincent. While these facts are worth knowing, this article highlights some data to which there is a much greater reason to pay attention. Hunger in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a daunting issue.

Near the turn of the millenium, hunger in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines sat at 22 percent of the population. This means that nearly a quarter of the nation lacked sufficient nutrition.

However, as mentioned above, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys some of the most fertile soil on the planet. Livestock production also accounts for a significant percentage of the nation’s GDP. With such agricultural proficiency, the existence of dire levels of hunger becomes even more shocking and intolerable.

Due to the severity of hunger in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the problem could no longer go ignored. Under Prime Minister Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines agreed to and adopted the goals of the World Food Summit in 1996. Other Caribbean countries, Barbados and Guyana, also embraced the proposed targets.

In addition to the goals and plan of action set out during the World Food Summit, as part of the Millennium Development Goals of 2000, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines incorporated further hunger-reduction goals.

In adopting both agreements, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines pledged to work to halve the percentage of its population suffering from hunger by 2015.

By 2012, undernourishment in the country was less than four percent. The targets of both the World Food Summit and the Millennium Development Goals were reached early.

Achievements such as these inspire efforts across the globe and demonstrate that whatever the magnitude of a hunger crisis may be, when tackled head-on, startling progress is possible.

In fact, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not ending its mission to combat hunger just yet. In July of this year, it launched its bi-partisan Parliamentary Front Against Hunger and Undernourishment.

The Front comes as the country works alongside The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) toward achieving the goal of eliminating all hunger in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The United Nation’s FAO launched the Zero Hunger Challenge in 2012, laying the framework to meet the goal.

Cornell Holland

Photo: Flickr