Letters — 03 December 2009 — by Jason Chavez
Poverty in Belize is a growing concern, and if Belizeans continue to ignore this problem, it will progressively increase. The last thing we would want in this country is to observe our country, “Mother Nature’s best kept secret,” have a poverty-rate to rival Haiti.
Sixty-five percent of Haiti’s population live in poverty. The Government of Belize is not debating strategies to tackle poverty, yet they expect less crime, more peace, and less complaints.
To add insult to injury, the majority of the Belizean society is being brainwashed by politicians. They promise that they will alleviate poverty for the families in their constituency, with better housing and income prior to every general election. The most embarrassing part of politics is that when they get in office, they speak a different language and ignore their recent promises, while poverty and crime are increasing annually.
According to the statistics from Professor Compton Bourne, PhD O.E., the president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Belize is the country second in line, with a poverty rate at 30%- 40% of the population.
Most of the poor people in Belize are dependent on the agriculture and fishing sector for their livelihood. In the Belize district, the poor depend primarily on construction, cutting yards, and cleaning drains, just to name a few. The poor people of this country display a high level of labor commitment in terms of the number of hours they work.
In the Belize district, the poor people experience high levels of unemployment, especially when looking at single-parent families with mothers as the sole provider.
In Belize, we have a lot of poor people who are not well-educated and most lack technical and vocational skills. When one walks down the Southside of Belize City, to be more specific, in the areas of Port Loyola, and St. Martin De Porres, the conditions, the environment they live in, are a little more than depressing.
Poverty causes crime, theft, robbery, burglary, drug trade and murder, just to name a few. Often poverty is blamed on the poor for being lazy, but this is looking at the few exceptions.
Actually, most poor people are working in legitimate jobs and spend more hours at work than do middle-class Belizeans. To be clear, these exceptions do happen; there are people who are lazy, but it is not the rule. One can see families living in swamps, dirt on the streets, dilapidated houses, and children not going to school and begging on street sides.
With an area representative for Lake Independence on the opposing side of the government, one cannot see any improvements in Lake Independence, and the poverty rate will just increase in this constituency.
On the other hand, one would think Port Loyola would be first and foremost to get the best service from Minister Boots Martinez, but only time will tell.
The foregoing analysis of the nature and causes of poverty points us in the direction for policies and strategies for poverty alleviation. In Belize poverty derives from inadequate income or lack of capabilities, as mentioned before.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow must logically address the underlying determinants of income capacity and capabilities. Economic growth is one of the fundamental determinants affecting a country’s capacity to generate employment and income. One must also look at the essential social services, and their ability to accumulate or save in good times to finance expenditures in poor times.
Finally, to remedy the poverty problem in Belize is a huge job for GOB. The way to rectify poverty in Belize is by improving the social infrastructure, the accessibility of water for the villagers, safe toilet facilities, better housing and effective primary health care.
One should ensure the possibility for the mass of people to lead healthier and more productive lives, which would in turn contribute to material expansion, especially of the poor. There is need to upgrade the primary health care delivery system through health centers and health posts. Only in doing so is our nation going to succeed and prosper in this situation we are facing.