Posts

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
When one thinks about the Dominican Republic, one may typically picture the beaches of Punta Cana or other tropical vacation destinations. Although the Dominican Republic has a strong and fast economic growth rate within the Latin American and Caribbean regions, the largest income group is a vulnerable set of individuals who have a high probability of falling back into poverty. In 2008, the national poverty rate was roughly 34% in the Dominican Republic. The national poverty rate fell to 21% in 2019. However, much more progress must occur in order for the people of the Dominican Republic to escape poverty. Here are five main influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic.

5 Influences on Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Lack of Quality Education: Young children and women do not have equal access to education in the Dominican Republic. About 36% of students do not finish their basic education. Many children who drop out are from the poorest areas of the country. They have to stop their education in order to help their families by working to earn money. In 2018, a total of 65,825 students were not in school. This pivotal set back will limit equal opportunities and their development. In order for the Dominican Republic to attain a positive economic turnaround, there must be an improvement in quality education. Since 2013, the government has increased its GDP spending on education and joined the World Bank’s Human Capital Project in order to get input about the improvement of human capital.
  2. Socio-economic Inequality: One cause of poverty in the Dominican Republic is unemployment. The employment rate of women is 33% in comparison to 61% of males in the workforce. Women are at a disadvantage due to the absence of education. Oftentimes women leave education in order to take care of the family and household. Even if women are in the work field, they are underpaid in comparison to men. The average pay for women was 79% of what men make.
  3. Lack of Sanitation: About one-fifth of citizens live in shacks without access to running water, electricity and proper sanitation. Although the country made an effort to increase access to sanitation services, this does not correlate with improved living conditions and quality. Many do not have equal access to quality infrastructure, which shows an increase in poverty. According to the Pan American Health Organization, the consumption of contaminated water led to severe diarrhea, which caused 50% of deaths in children under the age of 1. The World Bank Group helped restore water treatment facilities in Santo Domingo and Santiago. This led to more than one million gallons of drinking water for around 750,000 people. It also launched a project for wastewater treatment plants to help facilitate sanitation. The improvement of irrigation systems and clean water led to the improvement of local farms.
  4. Natural Hazards: The Dominican Republic suffers from natural disasters, which include earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and droughts. Natural disasters have negatively affected a quarter of the country’s population. Many buildings and homes are vulnerable to natural disasters due to a lack of enforcing proper building and zoning codes. Increased flooding due to climate change will lead to economic loss within the country. It is difficult for the government to produce aid for families and businesses burdened by natural disasters. In 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma brought high winds, flooding and landslides that devastated the country. These hurricanes caused major property damage due to the creation of strong storm surges along the coastline. Luckily, the death toll was not high from these hurricanes. However, the storms caused major damage to physical communities and left many without power, water and sanitation. The Dominican Red Cross responds to disasters where it has relief protocols in order to support the country. It distributed relief packages to more than 2,000 families affected by Hurricane Irma.
  5. Crime: Violence and criminal activity led to a downfall in the country’s wealth equality. Although the Dominican Republic’s gross domestic product continues to rise, different communities do not have equal funding. Higher crime rates lead to disproportionality of wealth. These poverty-stricken communities lack protection. This can lead to individuals living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is capable of reducing poverty in the next 10 years, but it must make major improvements. In order to end poverty in the Dominican Republic, representatives must improve the quality of education, health care services and employment through the implementation of policies that help the most vulnerable individuals. The country needs to make positive economic changes by increasing human capital and the business environment, improving the management of natural disasters and climate change and maintaining natural resources. These five influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic show that there needs to be policy changes in order to reshape the inequalities within the country.

Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, legislative efforts to curb outbreaks of cholera and waterborne diseases in rural and urban populations have steadily improved sanitation, water and hygiene levels. National commitment has pushed both government and non-government organizations to develop and improve much of the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic.

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic

  1. Cholera Outbreaks: Only 74 percent of residents have access to clean water, which primarily led to the cholera outbreaks in November 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8,000 people have died as a result of cholera.
  2. Natural Disasters: The Dominican Republic encountered 40 natural disasters from 1980 to 2008 that have severely damaged water systems and contaminated tanks. Approximately 2.65 million residents faced water shortages and illnesses due to poor weather conditions.
  3. Waterborne and Diarrheal Diseases: Waterborne and diarrheal diseases in the Dominican Republic spread mainly due to a lack of sanitary restrooms. Almost 24 percent of residents do not have access to bathrooms. Additionally, many, particularly children, do not have access to routine vaccinations for these diseases.
  4. Government Projects: Government partnerships and projects with the World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation have controlled epidemic outbreaks. These organizations have also improved accessibility to drinking water sources to 86 percent of the population. Further, sanitation facilities increased accessibility to 83 percent of residents between 1990 and 2010.
  5. The Inter-American Bank’s Loan: In 2012, the Dominican Republic partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to obtain a $25 million loan. This loan would improve energy efficiency and provide access to water services for at least 12 hours to more than 200,000 residents. Despite ongoing measurements of the impact, about 84 percent of the population experienced an improvement in sanitation facilities and drinking water.
  6. The Dominican Red Cross: In response to the cholera outbreak, the Dominican Red Cross imported 28 water treatment plants to magnify emergency responses. The Haitian and Dominican governments developed a 10-year plan with the Red Cross to ensure cholera-free islands. The countries curated a two-year campaign that pushed their key objectives in eradicating the disease.
  7. USAID Batey Community Development Project: The USAID Batey Community Development Project is pushing to improve water access and sanitary conditions in the Dominican Republic’s bateyes. Bateyes, which are towns surrounding sugar mills, traditionally have no running water, electricity or cooking facilities. The project aims to improve water distribution systems, build restroom facilities and train the population on environmental hygiene.
  8. The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola: The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola emerged in June 2012 as a blueprint for cholera-affected countries, primarily Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to help mobilize resources and reduce cholera-related deaths by 90 percent by 2030. The coalition consists of the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Surge for Water: In partnership with Project Hearts in 2016, Surge for Water installed 45 water tanks, 16 water filters and education and training opportunities to the people in Baitoa, Dominican Republic. This increased the population’s access to safe drinking water to 97 percent.
  10. The ACCIONA Agua’s Water Plant: A potable water plant that the ACCIONA Agua instituted in the south of the Dominican Republic improved the region’s network by providing access to more than 138,000 residents. This number will likely rise up to 300,000 in the coming years. For residents, this makes cooking a simple meal such as rice and beans more feasible.

These initiatives and developments are important in the progress of the Dominican Republic’s water, sanitation and hygiene levels. It is important to recognize many of the constituents that have compromised the country’s water supplies and sanitary conditions. Illnesses that are preventable through sustainable action often affect residents. These 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic, involving training, education and accessibility efforts, are vital to the country’s quality of life.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons