While Barbados may not suffer from extreme cases of poverty, the scourge remains an ever-present facet in the daily lives of some Barbadians.
This is according to Deputy Director, Bureau of Social Policy, Research and Planning at the Ministry of Social Care, Lee Rose, who pointed out that an estimated 20 per cent of the world’s population lived on less than two Barbados dollars a day.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of an Empowerment Fair to mark the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at the Barbados Museum yesterday, he explained that the definition of poverty was relative and defined by the standards of the society in which it was being measured.
Mr. Rose added that while Barbados did not conform to such a low poverty threshold, available research showed that poverty in Barbados had certain characteristics.
?????????????????? "Poor households and individuals are far more likely to be from larger families, have lower levels of educational attainment, be single headed households (mainly female), have a certain insecurity of land tenure, live in poor housing stock, often with inadequate access to sanitary facilities and have a greater involvement in the informal economy, thus having reduced access to the available social safety nets such as National Insurance and unemployment benefits," he explained.
Mr. Rose revealed that the Ministry of Social Care was working assiduously to devise programmes and strategies to shelter the poor and the vulnerable from the worst consequences of the recession.
In this regard, the Bureau of Social Policy Research and Planning was presently involved in the preparation of the Country Assessment of Living Conditions.
"The information emerging out of this critical piece of national research will provide the blueprint for the way forward with respect to the identification of policies, strategies, action programmes, and projects that would reduce the extent and severity of poverty; enhance the level of social development and improve the overall quality of life in Barbados," Mr. Rose said.
Advisor on Poverty Eradication and the Millennium Development Goals, Undene Whittaker, pointed out that the incidence of poverty was very well hidden in Barbados, with some families unable to have a proper meal two and three times a week.
She called on more Barbadians to volunteer for this fight by sharing their skills and knowledge with vulnerable groups.
The Poverty Advisor said the poor were not looking for handouts but needed guidance in how best to utilise their skills and abilities to get out of the poverty line.
"They need someone to show them how best to use their skills… not just depending on government and the state…they need help in facilitating their own goals and development," Ms Whittaker maintained. firstname.lastname@example.org