SEATTLE — Traditionally a small farming nation, Dominica is yet to be touched by tourism, and its natural beauty is enjoyed by a small population. Poverty in Dominica is influenced by a number of factors, including the nature of the agriculture sector, access to healthcare and education, and international demand for goods.
Dominica is known for its thriving agricultural sector, with nearly a third of the labor force working on farms and the process of exporting goods. In recent years, demand for Dominica’s main export, the banana, has decreased. As a consequence, many workers have been left unemployed since their line of work is heavily dependent on international exports. It does mean, however, that Dominica’s agricultural sector has become more diversified, and it now exports large amounts of coffee, aloe vera, exotic fruits and soaps.
Poverty in Dominica has been lightened as a result of an increased variety of exports, but the weather continues to make farming difficult. Poverty in Dominica is still looming due to the country being in a tropical region where the weather is unpredictable. In 2007, Hurricane Dean struck and caused $59.6 million worth of damage to farmland and homes. The cost of the damage amounts to 24 percent of the country’s GDP, leading to cuts in many different industries across the nation.
Education in Dominica is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. Students are able to attend secondary school and then go into further education. It is difficult nevertheless, as education is not free at the university level and bursaries are minimal. Higher education is only really available to those with wealthier backgrounds, as facilities are located in wealthier areas where aid for low-income families is hard to receive.
Healthcare in Dominica is varied in its standards and, for the capacity of 700,000 citizens, there are few medical practices. Across the country, there are only four public hospitals, seven health centers and 44 medical clinics that provide free healthcare. Only one of these hospitals offers emergency procedures, and these are not free of charge. Private health clinics are also available, but any treatment must be paid for immediately. With poor standards of healthcare, poverty in Dominica is heightened. Citizens who require serious medical attention may be unable to afford it and therefore cannot seek treatment.
In 2010, the Ministry of Health launched the National Strategy Health Plan to 2019. This plan aims to train staff in the clinical and administrative areas of healthcare and to prepare an effective health information system. This will hopefully aid those living under the poverty line, as they should be able to access healthcare more easily and receive more thorough treatment. Childfund International USA exercises a Child Centred Development Program for Dominica and Saint Vincent in Roseau, which is helping children across Dominica greatly.
Poverty in Dominica is higher than it could be. There are many strategies that can be exercised to help alleviate it. Health promotion and an interest in higher education should be a core driving force in schools. If further education fees were to be dropped, students living below the poverty line would be able to go and study at university, resulting in improved jobs and lifestyle.
– Georgia Boyle