Statement by the Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, for International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, October 17

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Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler????

Over the years the Government of Barbados has instituted a holistic and integrated approach to the eradication of poverty. Poverty alleviation and reduction have been viewed within the wider concept of social and human development, and the recognition of every citizen’s rights to an equitable participation in society which is achieved in part through poverty reduction.

The elimination of poverty, inequality and exclusion is embedded in the vision for Barbados to be "a fully developed society that is prosperous, socially just and globally competitive". In fact, our definition of poverty goes beyond income and consumption to embrace the concept of social deprivation. This has caused a paradigm shift in the approach to the delivery of services, away from the concept of a "hand out" to one of a "hand up".

The Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development is government’s principal social development agency in the personal social services sector, operating alongside several other bodies which play important roles in the delivery of social development programmes.

For example, Government, through the Ministry of Health, is responsible for ensuring the general health of the population through its universal health care programme; the Environment and Agriculture Ministries assist in helping to build sustainable livelihoods through the preservation of the environment and the coordination of agricultural development.

Mention must also be made of the roles of the Housing Ministry and the Education and Labour Ministries. Additionally, through the National Insurance Service, benefits are provided for workers and pensioners. The Ministries of Finance and Economic Development coordinate the wider economic development of the nation, facilitating its social development.

The Office of the Advisor on the Eradication of Poverty and the Monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals contributes significantly in the thrust towards the eradication of poverty. This Office provides assistance at the community level to individuals in developing skills and facilitating activities aimed at creating empowered livelihoods. The Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports through the Child Care Board and the Bureau of Gender Affairs, also plays a critical role in the protection of children and families, and in the pursuit of gender equality.

The Welfare Department is this Ministry’s forefront agency for the provision of assistance to the vulnerable. Critical roles are also played by the National Assistance Board; the National Disabilities Unit; and the Urban and Rural Development Commissions.

The Ministry has commenced the re-conceptualisation of Barbados’ approach to social protection. This new approach is predicated on the four pillars of Identification of needs, followed by the Stabilisation, Enablement and Empowerment of the individual. It is our endeavour thereby to move the individual from a state of dependency to self-reliance and ultimately to a sustainable livelihood.

Government recently formed the Social Policy Committee of the Cabinet to synchronise issues relating to social development, and in April agreed to the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Task Force at Ministerial and Technical Levels to Monitor and Strengthen the Social Safety Net.?? This Safety Net consists of all of government’s agencies involved in the various aspects of social provisioning.

In an effort to develop more evidence-based policies my Ministry will be shortly commencing a national survey entitled, The Country Assessment of Living Conditions (CALC), to assess current conditions affecting the welfare of Barbadians, while identifying policies, strategies, and programmes to reduce poverty. Additionally, the Ministry has finalised a Universal Intake Form which will be used as a ???first contact’ form for clients seeking to utilise services offered by its departments. This will better target and service clients, as well as improve the Ministry’s database and research capacity.

To make government more relevant to the everyday realities of residents and to increase the effectiveness of its social policies, we have introduced a Constituency Empowerment Programme. Under the Programme residents of constituencies will be given a voice in the establishment and determination of priorities and the delivery of services in their constituencies. Through these Councils we will be better able to identify pockets of poverty.

For it has been concluded that while the issues of poverty in Barbados are not as complex as in some other countries, there are some pockets of poverty which need urgent treatment. Concerted efforts will continually be made to find the right mix of policies and strategies to chart a path to poverty alleviation and its eventual eradication.

The Government of Barbados is committed to the eradication of poverty and is therefore pleased to join with the international community in the celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

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