Our Perspective

      • How to address surging violence in the Caribbean | Heraldo Muñoz

        20 Mar 2012

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        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. Photo: UNDP

        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. The consequences are devastating, as UNDP’s first Caribbean Human Development Report and an earlier report on human development in Central America show. The report Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security showed that homicide rates have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean —with the exception of Barbados and Suriname— while falling or leveling off elsewhere. The study covering Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago showed that a great deal of the violence stems from the transnational organized crime which has been active in the Caribbean. While murders in Jamaica dropped after the report’s completion to 1,124 in 2011, a seven-year low, the country has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest worldwide, only surpassed by El Salvador and Honduras. Lives are lost and damaged. Productivity, social capital—and the trust of citizens in their national institutions—are also hindered. Crime deters investment, diverts youths from jobs to jail, and absorbs funding thatRead More

      • Let’s put Haitians at the centre of rebuilding | Rebeca Grynspan

        11 Jan 2012

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        The Leogane debris management project in Haiti. Photo: Mariana Nissen/UNDP

        Two years ago this week, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, killing 200,000 and displacing 1.5 million people. The deaths and destruction highlighted the risks associated with a hyper-centralized government and population in Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of homes were demolished and 30 percent of civil servants lost their lives. In a matter of minutes, chronic challenges became urgent and acute, with life-or-death consequences in many instances. With the aim of “building back better,” UNDP has worked with other agencies not only to help Haiti recover but to make the country and its people more resilient, better prepared to weather any natural or man-made shocks the future will bring. That is our mission and our mandate, with Haitian people at the centre of every initiative. Since 2010, we have stepped up cooperation with the Haitian Government, expanding debris management and reconstruction while creating thousands of jobs. With 80 percent of Haitians living in poverty and some 60 percent jobless, we systematically privilege local employment and purchasing. We have helped create 300,000 temporary jobs since the quake, such as debris removal, river gabion or retaining wall construction, and garbage collection. This has given 60,000 families a chanceRead More

      • Pulling Latin America out of the “inequality trap”

        25 May 2011

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        Urban Housing in Mexico. Photo: UNHabitat

        When we talk about development in Latin America, there are many reasons to be positive.  While the global recession left many developing countries with greater challenges in striving to reach the MDGs, Latin American and Caribbean economies have recovered more rapidly than expected reflecting the region’s economic resilience. On a different front, the region leads the world in social programmes that give financial aid to people in poverty on condition for maintaining children in school and keeping up with vaccines and medical checkups, a huge boost to reduce poverty in 18 countries in the region.  In spite of strong economic growth and advances in tackling poverty, high and persistent levels of inequality continue to be a great challenge. While the region is not the poorest in the world, it is the most unequal, as measured by the Gini coefficient. "Ten of the fifteen most unequal countries in the world are in Latin America", said Head of UNDP, Helen Clark at the Fourth Latin America Ministerial Forum on Development. "Our priority must be to take the fight against poverty even further and make inroads into reducing inequality". While economic growth is important for long-term development progress, it does not automatically translate intoRead More