Bridgetown, Barbados — Inadequate or outdated data have hindered the fight against poverty in some Caribbean countries, including those of the Eastern Caribbean. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), along with partners, will be working together to get a better picture of the effect of poverty by improving its country poverty assessment (CPA) programme over the next five years.
The new CPAs will incorporate a multidimensional poverty measurement (MPM) approach that captures both the income and non-income elements of poverty and produces a composite multi-dimensional poverty index for the bank borrowing member countries (BMCs).
An injection of US$7.069 million will help advance the reduction of poverty, by equipping countries with tools to better extract critical data needed for decision making and analysis.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission will receive a grant of US$2.783 million to conduct MPM through implementation of a sustainable data programme (SDP); and to develop an integrated OECS geographic information system. CDB will also provide US$1.381 million for MPM enhancement support to non-OECS borrowing member countries and for management of the programme. Counterpart funding totaling US$2.905 million will come from BMCs, the OECS Commission, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO and World Bank.
CDB’s CPA programme was implemented in 1995 to assist countries to identify and plan for the needs of men, women and children in rural and urban areas who experience poverty in the ways that are characteristic in the Caribbean. Poverty in the Caribbean is more extensive in rural and marginal areas where the poor are engaged in primary production occupations such as agriculture, fishing, mining and timber extraction.
The characteristics of rural poor include less access to land, credit facilities, social services, adequate infrastructure, and agricultural support facilities. Moreover, fluctuations in prices in international markets, coupled with the risks of natural hazards increase the income vulnerability of rural households. In contrast, urban poverty in the Caribbean, while not as prevalent as rural poverty, tends to be more visible. Poor urban populations are characterised by high unemployment, low wage occupations, casual labour and self-employment in the ‘informal sector’.
Other groups such as indigenous people, the elderly living alone, school-aged youth and households with large numbers of youthful and elderly dependents experience high levels of poverty in the Caribbean.
By collecting and analysing poverty and social data, evidence-based decisions can be made by Governments and their development partners. CPAs make it possible for borrowing member countries to have comprehensive data sets on poverty and social indicators that are used to inform a variety of social and economic development initiatives. The contribution of CPAs to evidence-based policy planning and programming in the region has been wide and varied with the “CDB Model” having significant influence on the discourse on poverty and inequality in the region. These data sets underpin the analytical work for country programming and project development work by CDB and other development partners.
Governments have demonstrated outstanding commitment and support to the CPAs over the last two decades by investing substantial human and financial resources in the process. The CPA enhancement programme, which will have gender equality considerations integrated into all of its components.