Monday 26 October, 2020

IDB Report: Caribbean citizens experienced hunger during the pandemic

Reduced opportunities to work, due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), has meant that some residents of the Caribbean region, earning less than minimum wage, have experienced at least one day of hunger.

This startling statistic was revealed in a new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report titled: Caribbean Quarterly Bulletin: The Pandemic Saga Continues.

The report surveyed 12,000 households from the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The survey analysed the social impacts of the crisis.

It also sheds light on significant job losses and business closures for entrepreneurs in both tourism- and commodity- dependent economies.

“While coronavirus curves have flattened and several airports reopened, the region still faces a treacherous transition to a post-crisis scenario,” said David Rosenblatt, the Regional Economic Advisor for the Caribbean Department of the IDB in a statement.

“The path forward will not be an easy one as policymakers face social pressures, complicated fiscal situations, and a tough external environment. They will need to spend scarce resources efficiently, improve their debt management profile and attend to longstanding institutional challenges in economic policy.”

Using the recently launched Tourism Dependency Index (TDI) the report analysed Caribbean countries’ tourism dependency, and its implications for the post-COVID economic recovery.

It notes that a dozen Caribbean countries (including The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, and six from the OECS) rank in the top 20 globally on this index of tourism dependence.

Prospects for a return to pre-crisis levels of tourism demand remain highly uncertain, as the economic impact of the crisis continues to affect travellers’ ability to reach Caribbean markets, as well as lingering concerns regarding sanitary conditions.

The report also recommends strengthening emergency health capacity and social safety nets. The pandemic has also brought to the forefront the need to improve internet connectivity and provide quality education.

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