The impact of COVID-19 on the Dominican Republic has changed the country a lot in recent years. Despite the return to normalcy that a lot of the more developed parts of the world have experienced, there are still a lot of struggling countries that require U.S. assistance and the Dominican Republic is one of those countries.
The Dominican Republic’s Response
One can see the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in the Dominican Republic in its poverty rate. This statistic was on a downward trend from 2008 to 2020, but afterward, the country saw its poverty rate increase by 2.4% from 21% to 23.4%. With a lack of medical care like ventilators and limited spots in ICU beds, the pandemic hit the country hard. Tourism, which is the country’s largest market and an important industry to many residents, saw a major decrease in 2020.
The Dominican Republic saw almost 5 million fewer foreign travelers in 2020, which led to an increase in its unemployment rate to 8.9% and resulted in a 6.7% reduction in the GDP. Since then, the country has seen a historic rise in tourism, and a drop in unemployment. Projections have determined that the Dominican Republic’s unemployment rate could reduce to 6% by the end of 2022 as the country relaxes its travel restrictions.
Social Assistance and Poverty Rates in the Dominican Republic
This is due largely in part to the social assistance programs, like the aptly named “Superate” which translates to “to overcome.” This program facilitated the transition back into the labor market as the country planned to re-open in phases similar to the rest of the world. The country also took quick action in terms of relief for its citizens by implementing interest rate cuts and tax relief to support its poorer citizens and hemorrhage its bleeding economy. While support systems have mitigated the impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic, both its poverty rate and Latin America’s poverty rate rose in 2021 and will likely reach 33% in the region by the end of 2022. However, some of this increase may be due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The US’s Response
The United States has strong ties to the Dominican Republic and the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in the Dominican Republic has been an opportunity to strengthen those ties by sending aid to the country. Donating 50 ventilators in 2020 and building field hospitals to compensate for the country’s lack of medical equipment and space.
In March 2022, the U.S. peace corps dispatched 35 volunteers to different countries including the Dominican Republic. The volunteers have been working in host communities to help with anything from agriculture to economic growth. They assist with tasks such as recovering the literacy of students after school closures due to the pandemic. Peace Corps volunteers have also been helping at-risk youth gain valuable life skills like employability and educating them about sexual reproductive health.
The goal of the peace corps within the Dominican Republic’s communities is to also strengthen the education system that is already there while also building on it and creating new institutions for education. The United States committed millions of dollars in medical equipment and aid to help contain the spread of COVID-19 within the country. It is extremely important for the U.S. to provide foreign aid to countries in need, as it provides many benefits in the long run for this country.
The U.S. has played a significant role in the fight against COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic due to its immense resources, but more work is necessary. Despite the progress in the Dominican Republic and similar countries, the U.S. has more to give regarding repelling COVID-19 and should be able to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the Dominican Republic into the future.
– Alex Peterson