Child development and children’s rights in the caribbean



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SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS OF CHILDREN AND WOMEN IN TWELVE COUNTRIES OF THE CARIBBEAN
TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Acronyms

Executive Summary


CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN THE CARIBBEAN


Economic Constraints, Poverty and Children’s Rights …………………… 1

Cultural Constraints to Child Development and Rights …………………. 2

Child Rights, the CRC and UNICEF……………………………………… 3

The Realisation of Children’s Rights ……………………………………... 4

UNICEF/CAO Situational Analysis……………………………………… 5

POPULATION, GOVERNMENT, ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

Demographic Profile ……………………………………………………… 10



Assessment ………………………………………………………. 12

The State and Governance ………………………………………………… 13



Assessment ………………………………………………………. 14

Economy, Social Development and Poverty ……………………………… 14



Assessment ………………………………………………………. 23

Employment and Work …………………………………………………… 24



Assessment ………………………………………………………. 26


CHILDREN AND FAMILY LIFE


The Image and Value of Children…………………………………………. 26

Patterns of Socialisation ………………………………………………….. 27

Family and Household Composition……………………………………. 27

Assessment ……………………………………………………….. 30

THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC)

Ratification and Implementation ………………………………………….. 32

The CRC and UNICEF ……………………………………………………. 33

Assessment ………………………………………………………… 33

SURVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT, PROTECTION, PARTICIPATION
SURVIVAL: HEALTH, NUTRITION AND WELL-BEING………… 34

Water, Sanitation and Waste Disposal……………………………………. 34

Child and Adolescent Health……………………………………………… 35

HIV/AIDS Infection ……………………………………………………… 40

Adolescent Health, Sexuality and Well-being …………………………… 43

Assessment ……………………………………………………… 48

DEVELOPMENT: CHILDREN’S EDUCATION…………………… 50


Equal Educational Opportunity ………………………………………… 50

Early Childhood Education (ECE) ……………………………………… 51

Primary Education ……………………………………………………… 55

The Common Entrance Examination (CEE) …………………………… 58

Secondary Education …………………………………………………… 59

Secondary School Examinations ……………………………………… 61

Tertiary Education ……………………………………………………… 62

Adult Literacy …………………………………………………………… 64

Inequalities in Education ………………………………………………… 64

- Rural/Urban Disparities ………………………………………… 64

- Gender Disparities ……………………………………………… 65

- The Feminisation of Education ………………………………… 67

Physical Conditions in Schools ………………………………………… 67

Special Education ………………………………………………………… 68



Assessment ………………………………………………………. 68

PROTECTION: CHILDREN ‘AT RISK’ ……………………………. 71


Child Labour …………………………………………………………….. 71

Street Children …………………………………………………………… 72

Children of Migrant Parents ……………………………………………… 73

Child Abuse and Neglect ………………………………………………… 74

Domestic Violence ………………………………………………………. 77

Pregnant Teenage Girls ………………………………………………….. 78

Children of Indigenous Minority Groups ………………………………… 80

Children with Disabilities ………………………………………………… 81

Children in Institutions ……………………………………………………. 82

Juvenile Offenders ………………………………………………………… 84



Assessment ……………………………………………………….. 86
PARTICIPATION: CHILDREN’S RIGHTS, THE LAW

AND SOCIETY………………………………………………………….. 88


Children and the Law …………………………………………………….. 88

Children’s Rights and Participation ……………………………………… 93



Assessment ………………………………………………………………. 95

ANALYSIS ……………………………………………………………… 96




CONCLUSION………………………………………………………….. 107



APPENDICES

  1. Reported AIDS Cases …………………………………………… 111

  2. The Ladder of Child Participation …………………………………….. 112



REFERENCES …………………………………………………………. 113



LIST OF ACRONYMS

ADP Adolescent Development Programme (Trinidad and Tobago)

AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus Syndrome

ARI Acute Respiratory Illness

BVI British Virgin Islands

CAREC Caribbean Epidemiology Centre

CARICOM Caribbean Community

CCA Common Country Assessment

CEE Common Entrance Examination

CDB Caribbean Development Bank

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

CFNI Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute

CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child

CXC Caribbean Examination Council

DPT Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus

ECE Early Childhood Education

EFA Education for All

EU European Union

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GER Gross Enrolment Ratio

HDI Human Development Index

HFLE Health and Family Life Education

IDB Inter-American Development Bank

IMR Infant Mortality Rate

MICS Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey

MMR Maternal Mortality Rate

MMR Measles, Mumps, Rubella

NGO Non-Governmental Organisation

OECS Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

PAHO Pan American Health Organisation

PAM Programme for Adolescent Mothers (Grenada)

PAREDOS Parent Education for Development in Barbados

PQLI Physical Quality of Life Index

PTA Parent Teacher Association

SERVOL Service Volunteered for All (Trinidad and Tobago)

SitAn Situational Analysis of Children and Women

STI/STD Sexually Transmitted Illnesses / Diseases

TCI Turks and Caicos Islands

UNDAF United Nations Development Assistance Framework

UNDP United Nations Development Programme

UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund

UWI University of the West Indies

VET Vocational Education and Training

WHO World Health Organisation

WSC World Summit for Children

WTO World Trade Organisation

YTEPP Youth Training Employment Partnership Programme (Trinidad and Tobago)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1. This Situational Analysis of children and women in the twelve programme countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos) of the Caribbean Area Office of UNICEF has drawn on existing published data, qualitative and quantitative, to provide an assessment of the achievements and problems in four main areas: Survival (health, nutrition and wellbeing), Education and Development, the Protection of children in specially difficult circumstances, and Participation. It also presents an analysis which identifies the immediate and underlying causes of the major problems in these areas, preparing the groundwork for UNICEF’s strategic planning and programmatic interventions for the period 2003-2007.


  1. The preparation of the Situational Analysis adopted a participatory methodology for data collection, but faced several challenges including

  • Time and resource constraints

  • Difficulties in accessing the data and delays in data retrieval and submission

  • The inadequacy of the databases in relation to children

  • The problem of balancing general regional perspectives with national specifics of the twelve participating countries.

3. The governments of the twelve Programme countries have taken many initiatives to maintain and improve children’s (and women’s) rights, including the ratification of the CRC and CEDAW, the establishment of national mechanisms to coordinate child rights issues, law reforms and improvements in the situation of children in terms of access to basic social services.




  1. These include the following:


Survival

  • The expansion of water and sanitation services to the majority of the population including those in rural areas

  • Significant declines in infant and maternal mortality rates

  • Near universal immunisation

  • Control of communicable diseases

  • Virtual elimination of chronic malnutrition

  • Declines in adolescent fertility.


Education and Development

  • The achievement of near universal primary education

  • Investments in Early Childhood Education, Care and Development

  • Expansion in secondary school and tertiary educational provisions

  • Syllabus expansion to include technical and vocational education and Health and Family Life Education (HFLE)

  • Teacher training

  • Non-fee paying schooling and subsidies for children in need.


Protection

  • Provision of children’s homes and social work services for children in need of special care and protection

  • Legislation to protect children and women and initiatives to establish Family Courts

  • More sensitive and accurate data collection on child abuse and domestic violence


Participation

  • Reforms in family and employment laws to support the protection and rights of women and children

  • Some evidence of efforts by governments and civil society to facilitate the participation of youth in decision-making.




  1. Although most Programme countries have achieved modest macro-economic gains:-

  • expenditure and investments in basic social services remains relatively unchanged

  • there are systemic weaknesses in social policy and planning and in social service delivery

  • there is relatively poor understanding and appreciation of the importance of social policy and development

  • and poverty and vulnerability are increasingly evident among ‘at risk’ groups of children and youths.




  1. Four critical problem complexes concerning Caribbean children and youths have emerged from the Situational Analysis and must be targeted in research, policy and programmatic interventions:-

  • Early Childhood Education, Care and Development (ECECD)

  • Child Abuse, Exploitation and Violence

  • Adolescent Reproductive Health, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS

  • Adolescent Empowerment and Participation




  1. The Situational Analysis revealed two major general areas of focus for the agenda for children in the Caribbean:-

  • To ensure that all children and youths are empowered as citizens and subjects of rights to participate fully and consistently in their own development

  • To ensure that those children and youths who are vulnerable and ‘at risk’, who are the principle victims of poverty and the disparities in the social system, are provided with the quality of life to which they have a right; to ensure that they have a future.



CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN

THE CARIBBEAN



Despite progress and development, children are at risk
The impact of economic recession on child development

Perceptions of ‘the Child’

The silencing of children

The CRC’s new mandate for children

The emphasis on childrens’ rights and participation

Satisfaction of basic needs but evidence of regression and resistance to children’s rights

Caribbean children ‘at risk’

The meaning of children’s rights


The global agenda of children’s rights


The Caribbean

Situational Analysis:

Coverage

Content, and Focus,

and Methodology


Economic constraints, poverty and children’s rights

The countries of the Caribbean region present a commendable record of political stability, good governance, economic growth and social development. Basic indicators of health, nutrition, education and welfare reflect a level of progress that has, in general, been maintained and improved. But children and their priorities and rights remain virtually invisible on the national agenda for development. Where they are mentioned it is as passive beneficiaries of social services and socialisation in preparation for adulthood. Children, as children, are not seen as subjects of human rights.


While basic indicators of child development in the Caribbean in terms of provision and protection are generally satisfactory, there are no grounds for complacency. The countries of the region have not been immune to the economic reverberations of the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s. Several had no alternative but to implement stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes, with little in the way of a human face, cutting back drastically on State provisions in health, education, housing and welfare (Jolly and Cornia 1984, Jolly and Mehrotra 1998, Girvan 1997). Recovery has been slow and constrained by the global environment of economic recession, the demands of debt servicing obligations, declines in ODA, and persisting poverty.
There is also emerging evidence of persistent poverty, a deterioration in the quality of life of children and adolescents, increased exposure to abuse and exploitation, and the violation of children’s rights especially among special groups of children ‘at risk’ and in need of special protection. Children bear the brunt of economic crisis: “it is the young child who is paying the highest of all prices, and who will bear the most recurring of all costs, for the mounting debt repayments, the drop in export earnings, the increase in food costs, the fall in family incomes, the run down of health services, the narrowing of educational opportunities” (UNICEF 1989:2).
Many countries of the region have not managed either to achieve or to reinstate budgetary provisions to match the 20/20 initiative. Public sector responsibility for social development and child welfare has been reduced. With unemployment rates relatively high and in some cases rising, especially among women and youth, family incomes have not kept pace with increasing costs of living. While civil society and NGOs, families and communities make every effort to spread scarce resources and to ensure social well-being, there is growing evidence of an impoverished quality of life for those persons most ‘at risk’ and vulnerable, children in particular.
Cultural constraints to child development and rights

Fundamental barriers to the implementation of children’s rights are also evident at a country specific level in traditional ideologies of childhood and the accompanying resistant cultural practices which are, in turn, sanctioned in local legal, religious and political systems. Where children are perceived as dependent, incapable minors, as the property of their parents and as the passive beneficiaries of social protection and welfare provisions as they wait to grow up, then the implementation of children’s rights is invariably compromised.


The Western orthodox model which sentimentalises childhood has been exported world wide. It promotes the idea that children, as immature minors, have neither the capacity nor the need to express opinions or to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Children are to be seen and not heard and adults must assume responsibility as compassionate, altruistic role models who speak and act on their behalf. But, this model which juxtaposes childhood innocence and adult benevolence also assigns to parents, teachers and other adults the right to exercise authority and control beyond the level required to socialise and protect children. It also silences children, limits their participation to token ceremonial activity and reinforces dependency and social exclusion.
This SitAn exposes a Caribbean environment in which there are few examples of projects and programmes that allow the voices of children to be heard and their participation to be realised. If anything, the contrary practices of silencing and controlling children are reaffirmed. The prevailing public perception of increasingly deviant and disruptive children in the home, school and community, an image sensationalised in media reports, provokes a reflex reaction which sanctions greater control and policing. This, in turn, reinforces authoritarian adult-child relations and conventional practices and policies of corporal punishment, institutionalisation and incarceration, rather than the empowerment and self-determination so central to the realisation of children’s rights. Other than an occasional token voice or appearance, Caribbean children continue to be excluded from active participation in shaping their own lives.
Children’s Rights, the CRC and UNICEF

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides the vision and mandate for the advocacy and operational activities of UNICEF. The CRC stands as a landmark in the international debate and platform of activities for the world’s children. Universally adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 1989, the ensuing enthusiastic ratification of the CRC by UN member states was unprecedented in the history of international human rights instruments. All Caribbean countries included in this SitAn had signed and ratified by the end of 1993.


The children’s rights enshrined in the 54 articles of the CRC are comprehensive and represent internationally accepted minimum standards. They speak to four fundamental principles, namely non-discrimination, the best interest of the child, right to life, survival and development and respect for the views of the child. The articles have been summed up as the ‘3 Ps’ of the CRC, namely provision, protection and participation. The innovative feature of the CRC is the emphasis on the participation of children in decision-making concerning their own lives. Previous declarations focused attention on child welfare, summed up as the provision of health, education and various additional forms of welfare, and the protection of children from harm, abuse and exploitation. The CRC adds to this the promotion of children’s rights


  • to express opinions freely and have these acknowledged (Article 12)

  • to freedom of expression and access to information (Article 13)

  • to freedom of association (Article 15).

It is these articles in particular that extend the mandate for children by acknowledging their autonomy and human worth and their rights to self-determination, social inclusion and empowerment. Child development is thereby redefined as an issue of justice and children become subjects of rights, rather than mere objects of charity.


The global mandate for children’s rights got off to a positive start in the almost universal endorsement of the CRC. But ratifying the Convention is the easy part and many of the States Parties had given little thought to tackling the problems of implementation in the light of this new and radical philosophy of childhood and children’s rights. Although the record of recent achievements is impressive, serious impediments have emerged to obstruct the realisation of children’s rights initiatives at country level. These constraints are both economic and cultural.

The Realisation of Children’s Rights

As Caribbean countries proceed from CRC ratification to reality, in other words from signing and ratification on to the global movement for child development and rights to the process of policy-making and implementation, real dilemmas and constraints emerge. While the countries of the region have maintained a reasonable level of resource allocation to social development and achieved an impressive record of achievements in child health, nutrition, immunisation, education and welfare, there are deficiencies and signs of deterioration. As a region the Caribbean has, in general, steered clear of the image and reality of ‘stolen childhoods’ and the extremes of child abuse and exploitation which have damaged the lives of many of the world’s children, but there is emerging evidence of regression in protection and provision, and also of resistance to the promotion of child participation.


This SitAn exposes a number of problems of paramount concern for the development and rights of children who have, hitherto, been either excluded or placed at the bottom of the region’s agenda for social development. Countries in the region are concerned, but have been slow to respond. Of principal concern is the plight of those children ‘at risk’ and in specially difficult circumstances for whom there is virtually no safety net or recovery:


  • out-of-school children, working children and street children, mainly young boys who face danger, exploitation and abuse

  • adolescents and younger children who are exposed to sub-cultures of careless sex, drugs and violence

  • children who suffer physical and sexual abuse at home and elsewhere

  • sexually exploited and pregnant teenage girls

  • the children of minority indigenous groups who are socially isolated, stigmatised and experience a poor quality of life

  • disabled children who remain invisible and in need of resources and special programmes

  • children who are not parented, who are emotionally and economically deprived because their parents have died (increasingly as a result of the AIDs epidemic or violence), who have migrated or separated, who are imprisoned, or who through mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction do not fulfill their parental roles

  • institutionalised children and imprisoned youths who live in impoverished and degrading environments.

Children’s rights are integral to human rights but the realisation of children’s rights has to start with a fundamental re-definition of ‘the child’. Children must be perceived and promoted as social actors and citizens with the same inherent value as adults and with the capacity and the right to participate fully and consistently in decisions affecting their own lives. Children’s rights do not give children the freedom to do as they like, for all rights must be balanced against responsibilities. But the rights of children are a special case of human rights since children are especially vulnerable and dependent and therefore also require interventions that promote their well-being and protect them from harm. These measures, which were previously perceived as a response to the ‘needs’ of children, are now re-defined as ‘rights’. They have become an issue of entitlement rather than one dependent on the charity and good will of governments and adults.


Caribbean and other Third World countries must not perceive and resist the CRC as an arrogant imperialist invasion of cultural sovereignty. The children’s rights enshrined therein must not be interpreted in opposition to adult authority and parental control. On the contrary, the global agenda for children and the accompanying change in cultures of childhood and child development policy stands at the cornerstone of a sustainable and equitable future in all societies. Whether individual states welcome contemporary global realities or not, they are members of an emerging world-wide community and will therefore be subject to international scrutiny and comparison according to the moral and social codes of an international movement for human rights and social development that centres children.
UNICEF/CAO Situational Analysis

A UNICEF Situational Analysis (SitAn) presents information on a comprehensive set of indicators documenting the quality of life and development of children (and also women) in a particular country or region. This Report covers the following 12 Programme countries of the Caribbean area that fall within the mandate of the UNICEF Caribbean Area Office located in Barbados:



  • the Eastern Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago;

  • the British Overseas Territories of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI);

  • the South American mainland country of Suriname.

In addition to presenting basic indicators on the quality of life of Caribbean children, this SitAn also provides an assessment of the data, highlighting existing and potential problems and the impact of these on the realisation of child development, participation and rights. It also assesses the impact of macro-economic trends, the contribution of social policy and services and the influence of family and community. The SitAn then proceeds to an analysis component which identifies priority problems and their immediate and underlying causes in determining the deprivation or progress of children (and women). This, in turn, leads to recommendations for programmatic interventions, advocacy and research priorities, paving the way for UNICEF’s broad strategic lines of action which, with detailed feedback from the 12 Programme countries will, ultimately, be carried forward to form the Multi-Country Programme (MCP) of Cooperation for the period 2003-2007. The MCP is guided by the four key principles identified in the CRC, namely the right to survival and development, the best interests of the child, non-discrimination, and participation. The overall goal of the Programme is to assist and support commitments and capacities of governments, families and communities to promote, protect and fulfill children’s and adolescent’s rights, meet children’s basic needs, and expand opportunities for them to reach their full potential.


In order for the SitAn to document the quality of life of children and women in the twelve countries that fall within the mandate of the UNICEF Caribbean Area Office, information had to be collected on a comprehensive set of indicators. Because of the extensive coverage of this SitAn and the vast volume of data that needed to be retrieved, it was imperative that this process be carried out as systematically as possible. However, there were serious time and resource constraints during the process.
The first step was the preparation of the list of indicators and relevant quantitative and qualitative data on which the assessment and analysis would be based. In order to collect the quantitative data for each country in a standardised format, a set of matrices was prepared. These covered the following areas and have been compiled as a separate document:

  1. Population

  2. Economy and Social Development

  3. Survival

  4. Health and Education

  5. HIV/AIDS

  6. Adolescent Sexuality

  7. Household

  8. Employment

Statistical data for the SitAn was initially extracted from relevant documents available in Barbados. These included Common Country Assessment (CCAs) / UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs), End-Decade Assessment Reports, CRC Country Reports, Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other surveys, sectoral studies and programme evaluations.


Additional in-depth, qualitative data was captured from an extensive range of additional documents also available in Barbados and supplemented with information from a variety of sources including the UNICEF newsletter “Children in Focus”, studies on children ‘at risk’ completed by UNICEF consultants, sociological publications and newspaper reports. The papers and discussions presented at the recently held UNICEF (CAO) Symposium entitled “The Rights of the Child and the Caribbean Experience” held in Barbados in March 2000 also provided useful source.
The proposed methodology for this SitAn also included a third level of data collection which would involve travel by the consultants to those countries for which inadequate information had been retrieved during the data trawl in Barbados. Unfortunately, resource and time constraints did not permit this to happen before this first draft report. Although an effort was made to compensate for this by the collection of data and information during an initial round of country consultation meetings designed, in part, to obtain feedback on the Draft SitAn, gaps and inconsistencies remained. It is, inevitable, therefore, that the content of this report is biased towards those countries for which information on the provisions, protection and participation of children and adolescents was readily available in Barbados or was made available by the countries concerned. The intention is not to compare and rank the experience and record of individual Programme countries, but to expose for analysis and action the persistent and emerging problems in child development and the constraints to the realisation of children’s rights that all countries of the region have in common, albeit with some variation in nature and intensity. Most importantly, the participatory methodology of data collection and analysis was designed to ensure country and regional ownership of and commitment to the overall process of and policies for child rights realisation.
In the final analysis, the information included in the SitAn depended on the quality of data available in the Programme countries. In this regard, a number of problems emerged during the data collection phase. These included the following:


  • Considerable variation between ministries, departments and agencies in the emphasis on and investment in data collection

  • A tendency to rely on ad hoc project-specific data collection

  • A lack of coordination and centralisation of data in central statistical offices

  • A tendency to continue with outdated indicators rather than devise those relevant to new and emergent social problems and conditions

  • A lack of standardisation of data with the result that data often appears contradictory and of little use in the continuous monitoring of child development

  • A tendency to target more conveniently accessible population samples concentrating, therefore, on children located within social institutions, schools in particular, rather than search for those who are ‘at risk’, homeless or on the street

  • The reliance on traditional quantitative data relating to provision and, to some extent, protection, and a seeming reluctance to formulate qualitative indicators to measure participation and empowerment

  • Absence of assessments of the available data and analysis of the causes of social problems

  • Lack of forward linkages between the database, the research agenda and policy formulation.




Trinidad and Tobago: Databases for Children
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, with technical and financial assistance from UNICEF, is in the process of establishing two databases in respect of children.

Child Indicator Monitoring System (C.I.M.S.): will transform the ad hoc updating of all indicators relevant to the goals of the World Summit for Children into a standardised system, which will facilitate the ongoing review and update of information and the goals.

The Children in Need of Special Protection Monitoring System: will initially apply to four groups of children: abused and neglected, institutionalised, children with disabilities and children in conflict with the law. This system is geared toward data collected on children in need of special protection measures and the translation of this information into legislative, preventive and remedial action. Data will be collected from Government agencies and those non-governmental organisations which already collect data on children living in specially difficult circumstances. The resulting data will also be used to guide advocacy and public education activities.


POPULATION, GOVERNMENT, ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE



Population sizes range widely
Population densities vary

Ethnic and cultural diversity and homogeneity


Demographic transition to phase of slow growth

Low fertility and mortality rates


Varied migration patterns

Aging population profiles
Increasing life

expectancy

Declining proportions of children and youth

Increasing age dependency/

declining youth dependency


Population size among the Caribbean Programme countries varies from the clustered-islands of Turks and Caicos (TCI), the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Montserrat where the populations are under 5,000, to Trinidad and Tobago with a population of over 1 million. In between, are the island state populations, ranging from that of St. Kitts and Nevis with 39,000 to Barbados with just under 270,000, and the mainland country of Suriname with a population of over 400,000.
Population densities range from a high in the crowded island of Barbados (at approximately 600 per sq. km.) to the low level in Suriname at 2.5 per sq. km. Internal migration is evident in the relatively high proportions of the populations resident in the urban centres. In 2000, the proportion was estimated at over 35 percent in all Programme countries, with the highest urban populations recorded in Dominica (21.0%), Trinidad and Tobago (74.1%) and BVI (61.1%). In Suriname, over 70% of the population lives in the coastal region and population density in Paramaribo has been estimated to be as high as 2,761 per sq. km.
Several Programme countries have multi-ethnic and multi-cultural populations. Most diverse are those of Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. In Suriname, roughly one third are descendants of African slaves, and another third descendants of Indian indentured labourers, approximately one sixth is of Javanese origin and there are also minorities of Maroons (10%), Amerindians (3%), Chinese (2%) and Europeans (1%). The population of Trinidad and Tobago is divided almost equally into those of Indian descent (40.3%) and African descent (39.6%). The remaining 20% of the population consists of persons who are white, Chinese, Syrian and of mixed descent. This ethnic and racial diversity has, on occasions, created tensions, but on the whole social interaction is relatively harmonious. Dominica and St. Vincent/Grenadines are also characterised by the presence of small groups of indigenous peoples. The populations of the remaining Programme countries are relatively homogeneous and consist of a majority of African descent with small minority proportions, particularly of Indians and Syrians who have arrived in recent generations.
Most Programme countries have entered the final phase of demographic transition from high to low birth and death rates and are experiencing modest population growth rates of under 1%. St. Lucia is slightly higher at 1.15% while the BVI and TCI stand at 3.5% and 4.9% respectively. In the BVI most of this increase, approximately 65% since 1980, is attributable to net immigration. This is also the case with the TCI with in migration from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, much of which is illegal. The exception to this pattern of demographic growth is Montserrat where the volcanic crisis precipitated the mass migration of two-thirds of the population, reducing it to just over 3000 by 1997, though return migration has rebuilt the population to between 4000 and 5000.
The general pattern of low and stable population growth in the majority of countries is attributable primarily to fertility control as all countries successfully implemented family planning programmes and have cut crude birth rates to 25 per 1000 of the population or less. In 2000, Barbados showed the lowest rate at 12.8 per 1000 while those in St. Lucia and TCI remained relatively high at the 25 per 1000 mark (PAHO/WHO 2000). Mortality has also continued to decline and as crude death rates in all countries have fallen to below 11 per 1000 of the population.

The high migration rates of previous generations, which served as a safety valve against population explosion, are no longer evident. The exceptions in this respect are Montserrat where the volcanic crisis precipitated mass migration leaving the country with less than 5,000 people. In other countries net out-migration persists, albeit at a lower rate. Over the last 30 years, migration has accounted for an estimated 55-60% of the current population in the prime working ages of 30-49 (Serow nd.:20). This age distribution indicates a movement of young adults which is economic and job related and also occurs for family reasons. The BVI and TCI, however, experienced net in-migration mainly from neighbouring islands and many countries of the region are experiencing the return migration of retiring nationals.


Correlating with this changing demographic profile are trends towards emergent aging populations and increasing longevity. In the three decades since 1960, the total number of the elderly (aged 60 and over) in the region has approximately doubled and, furthermore, about one in three among them has attained the age of 75. With fertility rates predicted to remain low and the possible increase in the return migration of elderly nationals, this aging trend is likely to continue (Serow nd: 4-5, 78-85).
Life expectancy at birth compares favourably with that in developed countries and stands at over 70 years in all countries except St. Kitts/Nevis where the level in the year 2000 was 67.6 years. Sex differentials persist favouring female longevity with an age gap of between 4 and 6 years. In all countries female life expectancy is over 70 years, while only in Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia and Suriname does that for males fall below this figure.
Concomitant with increased longevity is the declining proportion of youth in the populations. In all Programme countries, the proportion of persons aged 19 and under fell from over 50% in the 1970s to an average of 41.8% by 1991 with the lowest proportions in Barbados (33.3%), Montserrat (34.5%) and the BVI (34.4%). The very young (aged under 5 years) also declined to an average of 10.6% of the total population with the lowest levels evident in Barbados (7.5%) and Montserrat (8.5%) and in both cases attributable to relatively low fertility rates. In Antigua/Barbuda and Grenada, however, the proportions of under five year olds in the population remained relatively high at 10.4% and 13.2% respectively (Suriname and TCI not included).
The changing age composition of the Programme country populations is also reflected in increasing age dependency ratios which, by 1990 averaged 14.1, and declining youth dependency ratios averaging 53.6, although in St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent/Grenadines the ratio is above 60 and in Grenada it stands at 71.8. Again the data for Barbados and Montserrat indicate the relative progress of these two countries through the phases of demographic transition reaching relatively high age dependency ratios of 18.5 and 22.5 respectively, and low youth dependency ratios of 37.6 and 43.6 respectively (Suriname and TCI not included).

ASSESSMENT
Achievements:

Slow population growth with declining fertility, low mortality. Out-migration has decreased.


Problem:

Aging dependency with declining proportions of children and youth.





THE STATE AND GOVERNANCE


Political sovereignty / dependency

Political maturity, but some instability

CARICOM, OECS, CDB

Membership and functions



All of the Programme countries have gained political sovereignty apart from the BVI, Montserrat and the TCI which are British Overseas Territories.
Most Programme countries have achieved a level of political maturity characterised by stable parliamentary systems with two majority parties though other smaller parties occasionally field successful candidates during elections. At present, most governments have a clear parliamentary majority. There have, however, been instances of unrest and political conflict is evident along with allegations of corruption and nepotism.
The major organisational grouping of the region is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) founded in 1973. All of the independent Programme countries are full members, together with Montserrat. Suriname, though not a Commonwealth country also has full membership. The BVI and TCI have associate membership.
CARICOM functions to promote closer political and economic integration among member states. Intra-regional trade has fluctuated particularly during the mid to late 1980s as a result of import restrictions and currency devaluations but has picked up since then. Progress has also been made with plans to establish the free movement of professional and skilled workers in the region and in harmonising reductions in the common external tariff. Also proposed are the establishment of a Single Market and Economy within which provision would be made for the free movement of skills, sports persons and cultural and media workers and a Caribbean Court of Justice.
The Windward and Leeward Islands along with Montserrat came together to form the subregional grouping, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in 1981. Members have pursued strategies and policies similar to those of CARICOM, leading to greater regional integration mainly by way of trade liberalisation, and are committed to full economic integration. In this respect, the OECS has established a Monetary Union and agreed to set up a Single Market facilitating the free movement of people, capital, goods and services. Several initiatives have been promoted to encourage joint programming in export, investment, natural resources management, agricultural diversification, fisheries and tourism development. The OECS also promotes expanded trade and other linkages within the larger Caribbean Community (CARICOM) market, although the absence of a common currency constitutes a significant obstacle to closer cooperation.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) established in 1969 is also an important regional institution. All Programme countries are members and eligible for loans for economic growth and social development.

ASSESSMENT
Achievements:

Political maturity and stability and the development of regional organisations.


Problems:

  • Politicial unrest and instability

  • Politico-racial factionalism

  • Marginalisation of smaller island economies



ECONOMY, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY



Small open economies, vulnerability and slow growth

Destruction by natural disasters: hurricanes

and volcanic eruptions (Montserrat)



Declining contribution of agriculture and mining/

quarrying
Low contribution of mining and quarrying

Banana industry in crisis

Tourism shows promise

Construction booms but due largely to recovery from natural disasters

Financial and business services under threat

Maintaining social development
Systemic weaknesses in social policy

Weak social service delivery


Social development expenditure

National insurance and social security schemes do not reach all


The countries included in this Caribbean (SitAn) comprise small, open economies that are extremely vulnerable as a result of production and export which remains highly concentrated primarily on mono-crop agriculture (though there is some evidence of diversification) and tourism, small domestic markets, weaknesses in public and private sectors, limited access to private investment, on-going efforts to their interests in recent international financial and trade negotiations in the new era of globalisation, and exposure to natural disasters.
However, the majority of the Programme country economies have grown slowly but relatively steadily in the last three to four decades. The 1980s is a period associated with economic decline, structural adjustment and increasing debt burdens as governments struggled to achieve macro-economic and fiscal balances. Most managed to maintain rates of growth of between 3.1% and 5.7% but, in the process incurred a large social debt as they were forced to make considerable cuts in expenditure on basic social development in health, education and social welfare.
The 1990s was a period of varying levels of economic recovery with the average real rate of growth in GDP for Programme countries at 5.1 (Caribbean Development Bank 1999:12). An exception to this general pattern of growth is Montserrat where the economy experienced a sharp downturn during the 1990s with GDP falling by 6.6% as a result of the volcanic crisis (Caribbean Development Bank 1999:12). The Suriname economy also faltered during the 1980s with a GDP of -3.07%, though it also recovered during the following decade to record slight growth with a GDP of 0.9%. In Trinidad and Tobago, a similar trend was evident with negative growth rates (GDP at -3.0%) during the 1980s, due mainly to falling oil prices, but recovery occurred to a GDP growth rate of 2.1 during the 1990s (Trinidad and Tobago National Report 2000:1) and 4.4% in 1998 (Caribbean Development Bank 1999:12). On the other hand, the BVI economy grew at a high rate of over 6% between 1994 and 1997, culminating in a real rate of growth in GDP of 13.9%, the highest among the Programme countries (Caribbean Development Bank 1999:12). The GNP per capita ranges from US$ 1,660 in Suriname to US$ 8,460 in Antigua and Barbuda.
All countries presently face problems consequent on the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The new international economic environment of trade liberalisation threatens the preferential trading arrangements with the EU and the US on which Caribbean countries have traditionally depended and necessitates urgent preparations for survival in a competitive global arena. The banana industry of the OECS has been particularly hard hit.
Some Programme country societies and economies, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean, have suffered badly as a result natural disasters, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and earthquakes in particular. Though there are few fatalities, agriculture and physical infrastructure are often extensively damaged or destroyed. St. Kitts, for example, was hit by hurricanes Hugo in 1989, Louis in 1995 and Georges in 1998 and continues to implement a programme of recovery and reconstruction in agriculture and tourism. In 1998 an estimated 60,000 tons of sugar was destroyed and production declined by 20.4 percent. The economies of Antigua/Barbuda and the BVI have also been seriously disrupted by hurricanes, most recently by Georges which damaged hospitals, schools and other social infrastructure and also closed down hotels and other tourist plant on which these countries depend heavily. Also disruptive to economic and social life are the long-term effects of hurricanes, such as flooding. In the north east of Trinidad, for example, 15 families were evacuated as high tides associated with Hurricane Hugo flooded their homes (UNICEF Children in Focus 1989 (Oct):4).

More critical and devastating, however, is the damage to Montserrat as the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted in 1995 and in 1998, and wreaked havoc on the island, rendering uninhabitable more than half of the land area, destroying the capital city of Plymouth, the port and the airport and precipitating the migration of two-thirds of the island’s population.


Concomitant with the modernisation of Caribbean economies is the decline of agriculture. In all countries the contribution of the agricultural sector has fallen during the last two decades and latest available figures reveal that only in Dominica (18.9%) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (10.4%) does agriculture contribute to over 10% of GDP. Sugar production and export from Barbados, St. Kitts and Trinidad has declined, and in St. Kitts is predicted to be shut down in the near future. In the Windward Islands, banana production is fluctuating and uncertain. In the TCI, commercial fishing exists but there is virtually no commercial agriculture. Nearly all food is imported, mainly from the US though small boats bring produce from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The salt industry collapsed in 1972.
In all countries also the contribution of mining and quarrying to GDP ranks at less that 5%, except in Trinidad and Tobago, where mainly crude oil and gas extraction contributes 21.5% and Suriname where bauxite, gold and crude oil contribute 14.7 %. The oil boom which Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed in the 10-year period between 1973 and 1983/4 was drastically affected by the collapse of oil prices and the economy experienced a rapid downward spiral. Public expenditure was drastically cut back, investment was reduced, the external debt mounted and unemployment escalated. Since then, however, the country has experienced recovery and growth.
In the Eastern Caribbean states agriculture, mainly in the form of the banana industry, continues to function as the backbone of these economies and as a major revenue earner. However, the industry has been plagued by the new demands of trade liberalisation in a globalised world economy. The adverse rulings of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have eroded preferential market access to the EU which played a major role in sustaining the banana industry. OECS states await the resolution of protracted negotiations between the EU and WTO. This, along with perennial problems of low rainfall and hurricane destruction and competition from the cheap ‘dollar bananas’ produced outside the region, are not easily resolved. However, there has been a positive response on the part of banana farmers to the crisis and the encouragement by governments to improve the quality and quantity of production. In 1998, this raised production by 3.2 percent, though in the previous year the industry had experienced a 28.2 percent contraction (UNDP 1998:24). Assistance from the EU’s Stabilisation of Export Earnings (Stabex) scheme and from banana recovery programmes are generating some stability. In St. Lucia, for example, the Banana Recovery Plan enhanced by the Certified Growers Programme has resulted in improved quality and increased returns to farmers (UNDP 1998:202). Nevertheless, the WTO mandate continues to threaten the livelihoods of large numbers of small farmers and their families and poses a serious problem for the quality of life and social fabric of rural communities in the Eastern Caribbean.
Several Programme countries, including Antigua/Barbuda, BVI, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and TCI have turned their attention from agriculture to tourism as the potential mainstay of their economies. Success in this respect has been varied. At one extreme is the experience of Barbados in which tourism heads the list of growth areas. In 1998, the number of long-stay visitors exceeded 500,000 and was matched by the number of cruise ship passengers. The BVI also presents a record of economic growth in recent years due mainly to the promotion of luxury tourism and St. Lucia has experienced success, with visitor arrivals in 1998 increasing by 10.9 percent, while cruise ship passengers in the same year rose by 17.6 percent (UNDP 1998:201). The TCI has maintained a vibrant tourist industry since the boost in the 1980s due to the construction of the Club Med complex and the international airport. At the other end of the continuum is St. Vincent/Grenadines where tourism takes advantage of multiple small island destinations by promoting sailing. Approximately 40 percent of all visitors arrive by yacht and, in general, the number of visitors, totaling just over 200,000 in 1997, is small in comparison with other destinations in the region (UNDP 1998:222). Similarly, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago also promote a specialist package, in this case eco-tourism, and the industry has remained relatively underdeveloped. In Montserrat, the nascent tourist industry has been almost totally eliminated with the destruction of the airport and hotel accommodation, though there are plans to rebuild and to use the volcanic experience as a drawing card.
Construction continues to make a significant contribution to the economies of the Programme countries. In Barbados, in particular, construction has provided a main thrust for economic development. However, the major construction booms are to be found in those countries which are recovering from hurricane damage, such as Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis, as residential, hotels and other tourist sectors undertake the process of rebuilding and renovation. In Montserrat, the volcanic crisis has initiated a massive re-construction programme in the safe zone. While the contribution of other sectors of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing tourism and financial business services, declined markedly between 1994 and 1998, construction activity increased from 8.3 to 25.1 percent (UNDP 1998:168) and the upward trend is likely to continue as the economy and society are rebuilt. In effect, therefore, construction functions in these economies mainly as a temporary recovery and catching up activity in an effort to restore physical infrastructure, rather than as an on-going contributor to GDP, or indeed to employment.
A recent robust addition to certain Programme country economies is that of financial and business services. This is particularly evident in the more diversified economies of the region including Barbados, Antigua/Barbuda and the BVI. However, despite continuing reform to offshore regulatory regimes, this encouraging development has also been adversely affected by the OECD protest to the WTO about what they perceive as unfair tax advantages gained by companies that do business through Caribbean offshore IBCs. Caribbean countries have contested the OECD black-listing but the implications for the future development of these sectors of regional economies remain uncertain.
The Programme countries have, in general, made reasonable progress in social development as estimated in the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) (Table I) but only Barbados and Antigua/Barbuda have achieved HDI rankings within the high category. Within the Programme country group, Barbados has the highest ranking at 30 (out of a total of 178 countries). These rankings are an indication of the recognition among the respective governments of the critical importance of social development and a commitment on their part to investments in social capital and human resources.
However, social policy and planning capacity continues to be weak in most Programme countries. There is poor appreciation and understanding of the importance of social policy in general and in relation to the wellbeing of children and families in particular. The prevailing view is that social services consist of unproductive charitable handouts that can no longer be justified in the context of increasingly severe resource constraints. Weaknesses are notably evident in the areas of implementation, where delays are common, and evaluation, which is generally confined to financial monitoring. Those involved in social policy are often preoccupied with practical issues of resource acquisition and expenditure, within overly centralised structures in which Ministries of finance have assumed a dominant role in determining priorities for budgeting. Personnel trained in social policy and planning are scarce and the database is weak (Thomas nd.).

Several weaknesses have been identified in social service delivery. Highlighted are the following:




  • segmentation, fragmentation and duplication in the delivery of social services (Thomas nd.)

  • some deviation from the principle of ‘universality’ in service delivery to the detriment of the needy

  • reliable indicators for social policy have only recently begun to be developed with the result that social expenditure levels may not be a reliable indicator of social development. There are delays in budgetary allocation and much may end up in staff salaries, and may be wasted, leaked or poorly targeted.

  • Resistance to change in terms, for example, of eliminating ineffective programmes and projects or failing to incorporate customer choice

  • The disadvantaged position of social sector ministries in the allocation of resources

  • Low returns for investment in partnerships, with NGOs for example, which continue to have a peripheral role in social development

  • High level of external donor input into social policy

  • Erratic and inconsistent political commitment to social policy

  • Absence of a clear and coherent vision of, and meaning and value of social policy

  • Lack of accountability in social service delivery (Thomas nd.).

Programme countries’ governments agreed to the 20/20 initiative of the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 which committed them to providing a minimum of 20% of their budgets which, along with 20% of donor resources, was to be allocated to basic social services. But, related to the systemic and social service delivery weaknesses mentioned above, there is evidence that in some Programme countries, expenditure allocated to basic services has been misdirected or inadequate for basic needs provisions, for example in pre-primary and primary education, primary health care and low-cost water and sanitation services especially in isolated rural areas and depressed urban communities.


In some countries, real expenditures in health and education have declined over the last decade. Physical structures have deteriorated, and there is evidence of a persistent brain drain as trained and skilled personnel have migrated. Some governments have been unable to maintain expenditure at levels required to sustain health, educational and social services in relation to rising costs. This contraction was implemented through reductions in salaries, textbooks, and other general supplies and goods for teachers and pupils. This, in turn, contributed to low test scores in key subject areas, limited access to secondary schooling and deficient curriculum programmes and an alarmingly high number of reported cases of students unable to read and write. However, in Trinidad and Tobago, government was able to restore teachers’ salaries, granting an overall increase of about 35 percent in 2001.
Although the Programme countries have implemented National Insurance and Social Security schemes, major gaps and inadequacies exist in social protection. In the majority of cases neither the income ceilings nor the payment benefits have been adjusted to keep pace with wages and inflation. In addition, benefits for the unemployed are often non-existent, apart from severance payments and these are not assured in cases of employer insolvency. Public assistance schemes do not adequately reach low income families with children and injustices persist as a result of unclear criteria and contradictory practices of payment. A major cause for concern throughout the region is the escalating drain on these social security schemes by demands for pensions in the context of aging populations. Private companies are beginning to fill the gap, but their schemes are costly and the gap between those who can and those who cannot afford additional contributions is widening.





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