Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Barbados
Barbados, known famously as a tropical destination, is one of the most prosperous of the Caribbean Islands despite the increase of its total poverty rate which now sits at 17.21 percent compared to 15 percent in 2010.

The country used to rely economically on sugar exports, but now heavily relies on tourism and finance. Many resorts have had success in Barbados as the white sand beaches, tropical vegetation, warm weather and bright blue water welcome a reputation as a relaxing vacation getaway. However, away from the resorts and tourism, living conditions do not portray the same picture. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Barbados.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Barbados

  1. The most expensive properties are located on the west coast of Barbados, which heavily caters to extremely wealthy tourists. A three-bedroom house rents for around $1,500-$5,000 a month, while the south coast of Barbados rent runs for about $1,350 a month. Fifty-four percent of households own the property without a mortgage, and as a result, the Barbados housing market remains weak. Residential property prices in Barbados, especially in the high-end market, are still about 29 percent below the peak levels seen before the global crisis.
  2. The reported overall poverty rate in 2016 was 17.21 percent. The St. John Parish — which caters mainly towards local inhabitants — was reported as the poorest parish on the island as it had a 15.56 percent increase in poverty since 2010. In Barbados, 3.39 percent of the population do not receive their minimum caloric requirement; in terms of early childhood development, 4 percent of children living in extreme poverty and aged 0-5 were reported as stunted in growth. These numbers were calculated in comparison to the international average of anthropometric of height and weight for children in this age group.
  3. Sixty percent of households have outer walls with masonry and 51 percent have roofs built from corrugated metal sheets that provide sturdy protection against weather. Eighty-eight percent of households have WC connected to a well system and 96 percent have water pipelines. Most homes are equipped with modern amenities.
  4. The 2017 statistics on crime rates in Barbados reported that the country had 11 murders, 84 robberies and 29 shootings per every 100,000 people. Drug-related crimes are the most prevalent type of crime  in Barbados, with residential burglaries coming in at a close second. The population of Barbados was reported at 285,719 in 2017, which puts into perspective how large the issue of drug-related crime and residential burglary is within the nation.
  5. In 2012, the Barbados government enacted a poverty intervention plan called the Implementation Stabilization Enablement and Empowerment (ISEE) Bridge Program. The program was created in order to address intergenerational extreme poverty and aid welfare at the household level. Each member of the household in need receives aid which will eventually reduce their dependency on the government. The goal of this program is to prevent extreme poverty from continuing in the next generation and release families from the cycle of poverty.
  6. The Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) is the official communications arm of the Barbados government. This department is responsible for the dissemination of public information to the various news media and the general public.
  7. In 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank provided $10 million to the government of Barbados to carry out the ‘Strengthening Human and Social Development in Barbados’ project. The project will last for 5 years and sets out to aid unemployment, youth from the ages of 16-30 and retrenched workers. This project will strengthen the active labor market policy, enhance information sharing capacity through a new management information system, and expand the number of households aided by the ISEE Bridge Project.
  8. It is not often that the words ‘poverty’ and ‘Barbados’ are used in the same sentence. The island enjoys a high ranking on the UNDP Human Development Index, and according to a Barbados Country Assessment of Living Conditions Report, it ranks in the top 50 countries in the world.
  9. Teen motherhood in Barbados — measured for women who had children at or below the age of 19 — sat at 25 percent for women 30 years old or older. However, data shows that as education levels increased for women in Barbados, teen motherhood decreased. The amount of teen motherhood for women in their twenties (a decade or so later) was at about 14 percent.
  10. In terms of education in Barbados, 97.02 percent of the population attended a formal educational institution, 66 percent had completed secondary education and 32.3 percent obtained higher qualifications. Of the 32.3 percent that continued past secondary education, 13.5 percent pursued vocational/technical training and 18.8 percent pursued tertiary education. In regards to public healthcare, Barbados has 8 accessible polyclinics which provide immunization services and curative acute care for children. A few of the polyclinics also provide dental and eye care; as a whole, these polyclinics provided 87.5 percent of all immunizations in Barbados.

A Nation in Progress

As this list of top 10 facts about living conditions in Barbados reveals, Barbados still has issues to address regarding poverty and living conditions. However, according to Barbados Country Assessment of Living Conditions, Barbados ranked in the top 50 countries in the world, and the Barbados government is active and dedicated in launching social welfare programs and progressing their country.

– Mary Spindler
Photo: Pixabay

Sports are being used all over the world to promote gender equality, public health and the empowerment of social outcasts.

In patriarchal societies sports and games are being used to empower young girls and encourage fair play regardless of gender, leveling the playing field, as it were.

But gender is just one of many social barriers that sports are used to break. Football (soccer) in particular is popular for reinitiating orphans, former child soldiers or sex slaves, refugees, children with disabilities and children of varying races into communities.

In 2003 a UN task-force announced the birth of Sport for Development and Peace (S4D) Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, officially making sports a tool for fighting world hunger, poverty, disease and discrimination.

S4D disperses its funding among organizations that promote physical activity as a right among children and use its exertion to demonstrate equality.

UNICEF holds sport festivals where it educates children and families about hygiene, the importance of vaccinations and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Grassroot Soccer (GRS), based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, launched an HIV/AIDS Education Program that encourages children to talk openly about HIV/AIDS and builds a community of peers who will bring what they learn back to their families.

In addition to encouraging peaceful resolution and fair play, sports can have a way of giving control back to children who’ve had their rights or bodies stolen from them.

Within the parameters of a controlled environment young girls and boys are free to rule and judge for themselves, experience consequences, team-building and the payoffs of hard work.

Regardless of culture, countries all over the world are accepting physical activity as a way to nurture empowerment and collaboration. Victims of human trafficking practice yoga in India to reclaim their bodies and establish inner-stability. Children play basketball in South Africa to overcome racial stereotypes. All-girl football teams in Brazil empower young women to overcome their social inhibitions. After a tough game, coaches in Zimbabwe talk to their teams about practicing safe sex.

The UN is making international sport a priority, and hopes that one day children everywhere will have the space and the right to play.

– Lydia Caswell

Sources: UNICEF, Sport and Dev, Sport and Dev
Photo: What’s On

Recent protests in Venezuela have caught the attention of the entire world. Demonstrators are protesting for a myriad of different reasons, from extreme rates of inflation, to rising crime and murder rates, to allegations of corruption. Despite these different reasons, one thing remains constant: the majority of protestors are demonstrating against the government ruled by Nicolás Maduro, the successor to the late charismatic firebrand Hugo Chavez.

But what is Chavismo? What are the origins of this political movement that has swept up the Venezuelan state and has until recently, been extremely popular?

Chavismo has its origins in the beginnings of Chavez’s political career. In 1997, the Fifth Republic Movement was founded to support Chavez in the 1998 presidential elections. The Movement was named the fifth republic because at the time, Venezuela was in its fourth republic and the movement intended to renew the state of Venezuela on revolutionary policies.

A key belief of Chavismo is that the state should support social welfare programs for its citizens. For instance, Chavez often used populist rhetoric to galvanize the lower classes and the disenfranchised with promises to make their lives better. Revenue from Venezuela’s significant oil reserves were put into programs designed to reduce poverty, improve education, and establish social justice and social welfare within Venezuela.

 Some tenets of Chavismo include nationalization of industries, and a strongly anti-neoliberal stance on economic issues with an emphasis on participatory democracy. Systems of “Bolivarian missions” or misiones bolivarianas exist in order to bypass the red tape that often comes with bureaucracy and where citizens can gather to express their opinions directly and have their voices heard.

Not surprisingly for a revolutionary political movement, Chavismo strongly identifies with the historic figure of Símon Bolívar, the 19th century liberator of Latin America from Spanish colonialism. This idea is carried on today with Chavismo attempting to rally countries around the region to oppose what is seen as imperialist US policies that put capitalistic gain ahead of basic human rights.

The idea of Chavismo works well theoretically, as most populist ideologies do. But the reality of the situation is that Venezuelans are unhappy with the way the country is being governed and the direction the current brand of Chavismo led by Maduro is taking them.

Instead of listening to the demands of the people, Maduro decided to take the thuggish route and try to quell the current protests by deploying hundreds of soldiers and ordering fighter jets to make low passes over the capital of Caracas.

Maduro’s responses to the protests give full view to his insecurity. In order to maintain a tight grip on the country, he has expelled three US diplomats from the country and detained 45 people. Maduro has also attempted to regulate media coverage of the protests and threatened to revoke press credentials for CNN reporters.

Unless he listens to and responds to the needs of the people, he will be put in an increasingly insecure position within his United Socialist Party. While an overthrow of Maduro’s government and an opposition-installed government in unlikely, what is possible is Maduro being forced to step down in favor of his Vice-President, Jorge Arreaza.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: The New York Times, The Huffington Post
Photo: Jorge Amin

Denmark is the birthplace of the classic fairytale, the Little Mermaid, but is also the home of an economic model that has given Denmark an edge over the vast majority of other Western economies, including the United States. According to Haekkerup, Denmark’s minister of trade and European affairs “…the American dream comes alive in Denmark.”

What’s Denmark’s secret, super-effective method of governing? According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the nation serves a potent recipe of high taxes, plentiful social aid and a well-organized public sector. For instance, the cost of health care is paid for by the Danish government rather than its citizenry. Additionally, employers are encouraged to provide training to strengthen the employee’s skillset.

For example, the Danish government focuses its spending on more socially-oriented services rather than, for example, disproportionately on the military. According to Haekkerup, the entirety of Denmark’s defense budget is the same amount that the Pentagon spends on air conditioning – an astonishing and baffling revelation regarding the pragmatics of national spending.

Due to Denmark’s combination of high taxes and high social aid, financial growth is projected to increase throughout 2014 along with a decline in the employment rate. This economic model contributes to an overall high standard of living in Denmark along with social safety nets for the less-fortunate citizenry.

Furthermore, according to NPR, the general price of goods in Denmark is staggeringly more expensive than the price of goods in the United States. However, the Danes also have more money and higher taxes. For example, according to contributor Carl Hughes, a bag of candy at a Danish grocery store may cost a pricy $5, however, a large bag of locally-grown vegetables may cost a more reasonable $2, thereby encouraging shoppers to purchase the healthy, environmentally-kind bag of vegetables.

In America, this trend appears to be reversed. Unhealthy foods, such as chips and candy cost far less than fresh fruits and vegetables. Through this combination of income and taxation, Denmark utilizes the tax system in order to socially breed a more socially-conscious population.

Phoebe Pradhan

 Sources: Bloomberg Businessweek, NPR, OECD
Photo: A Thoughtful Eye

Poverty in France
More than just the illustrious Eiffel Tower looms over France. The land of crepes and Albert Camus is also the land of prevailing poverty. At 40 percent of the average standard of living, two million French residents sustain themselves with 645 euros, or $873.85 per month after accounting for social benefits. For individuals who make less than 977 euros, the minimum living income in France, it is difficult to accommodate daily needs.

Furthermore, 3.6 million French residents rely on some form of social assistance to varying degrees. Approximately 1.4 million recipients of social assistance report aid from the Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA,) a French social welfare program in which an eligible individual receive, as of January 2014, receives a maximum allocation of 499.31 euros, or $676.47 per month.

Additionally, 3.5 million residents report relying on food aid, such as food packages, vouchers, and charity meals, according to the National Council of Food. Over a third of the individuals who rely on food aid receive assistance through the Secours Populaire, a non-profit French organization that aims to mitigate poverty in France and poverty in the world.

The Secours Populaire typically lends aid through the form of emergency food, clothing, and shelter. However, 1.8 million individuals (these individuals may overlap with the previously-stated 3.5 million who rely on food aid) report being unable to have a full meal at least once a day at some point within the past two weeks.

According to the French food-aid charity Secours Catholique, 31 percent of its aid recipients are single mothers, even though single mothers only comprise eight percent of households in France. However, in the past, single men and single mothers made up the majority of France’s poor, but due to global economic crises, France has seen an increase in the number of poor families.

Although poverty has declined in France since the 1990’s, a substantial amount of the French population remains economically stagnated, relying on social welfare and housing assistance. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is appalling how such a disproportionate amount of the population struggles to make an adequate income.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Secours Populaire, Palgrave, Inequality Watch

India Experiments With Cash Assistance Program

With social programs across the world, corruption and inefficiency are always an issue. In India, the Public Distribution System, or PDS, is the largest network that provides food and other necessities to the 350 million who live below the poverty line. Economists have recently begun to formulate an experiment to get aid directly to the hands of recipients in the form of checks that they can spend as they choose.

PDS currently uses ration cards which allow people to buy grains at a cheaper price. However, there are quite a few middlemen and illegal happenings which can end up leaving anywhere from five percent to 15 percent of the original amount to the ration cardholder. With this new proposition, however, the government must deal with many theories and statistics of failure and the possibility of biting off more than they can chew.

The cash system would require recipients to open bank accounts. Only 40 percent of Indians currently have a bank account due to the impracticality of it for rural dwellers who either do not have close access to a bank or are not able to pay the fees required to have one. The idea of banking correspondents has been suggested to counter this issue. These correspondents can be explained as human ATMs who physically go to villages and customers, allowing them to withdraw money.

Reetika Khera, an economist from the Indian Institute of Technology conducted a survey asking PDS users their preference for food vs. cash. Although two-thirds said they preferred food, Paul Niehaus of GiveDirectly (an NPO that works to transfer donations electronically to poor Kenyans) warns that surveys are not the best way to test the theories. Most people who are a part of PDS have been living in a paternalistic system, as Indian economists say, where they have become comfortable and accustomed to the ration cards and are told how to spend their benefits.

These cash systems have been implemented in Mexico and Brazil where families must meet certain benchmarks and goals in order to receive their benefits. Although India’s population is significantly larger, certain states which have already put this new system to use have noticed an improvement in the distribution of funds and a decrease in corruption.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Co.EXIST, NY Times