The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is yet to complete the latest poverty assessment, the result of which should have been published in March this year.
MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings asked Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves for an update on the assessment during last month’s meeting of parliament.
Cummings, an opposition lawmaker, said that the country poverty assessment was launched with much fanfare in in February 2018.
He said that the International Monetary Fund’s latest report put unemployment among youths in SVG at about 46%.
Cummings asked Gonsalves to explain why the country Poverty Assessment Report which should have been published in March 2019, as promised by the government, was still not published or revealed, how much was spent in undertaking the assessment, and when could the people of SVG expect the report to be made public.
In response, Gonsalves said the overall objective of the poverty assessment is to update living conditions statistics and to recommend policies, strategies, action plans and projects that will reduce the extent and severity of poverty.
He said that SVG has not had a poverty assessment since after the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
In July 2017, Cabinet granted approval for the national assessment team to be reactivated to provide supervision for the implementation of the poverty assessment.
It is comprised of 15 members from 13 government and non-governmental organisations, the finance minister said.
Gonsalves said that SVG has secured financing through the World Bank Human Development Service Delivery Project for the country poverty assessment.
In addition, the Caribbean Development Bank, through the OECS commission committed to providing technical assistance and guidance throughout the process.
The overall cost is estimated to be US$800,000 and to date about US$300,000 has been spent.
The survey of living conditions, household budget survey component provides quantitative data on poverty and vulnerability.
In addition to computing the poverty threshold and providing the monetary measures of poverty and vulnerability, this particular component will use multidimensional poverty measurement to update social indicators and provide baseline statistics for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG 1 and 2 – zero hunger and zero poverty among others, Gonsalves told Parliament.
He said that processing for this component began early in 2019 shortly after compilation of the fieldwork phase.
Analysts are in the process of producing the preliminary estimates of monetary and multidimensional poverty for that component.
The finance minister said that participatory poverty assessment component attempts to understand poverty through the eyes of the poor, it involves one-on-one and group discussions with persons in selected communities.
“With this assessment, poor citizens can relay their own experiences and tell their own stories. Among the groups accessed were the elderly and the disabled.”
Data was collected within eight communities across St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Ashton, Union Island; Bottle and Glass, Barrouallie; Calliaqua; Orange Hill; Redemption Sharpes; Sandy Bay; South Rivers; and Spring Village.
The fieldwork for that component is incomplete.
The macro socio-economic assessment provides an understanding of the institutions and services that are critical to improving living conditions and reducing vulnerability to poverty and provides information on how the global economy has influenced poverty in SVG, Gonsalves said.
The institutional component of this, which is the part that deals with the institutions and services that are critical to improving living conditions in SVG, that survey is complete.
The draft report is being prepared.
The data collection and the work to strengthen the other component, namely the macro socio-economic assessment is being prepared.
The component on poverty and vulnerability mapping combines information gathered in the other four components and generates maps that show the different factors affecting poverty and vulnerability in SVG.
The map can used to decide interventions by demonstrating geographic variations and areas that are lagging in development that might be targeted for specific action.
The overall status, data collection and data processing are not complete in all sections and there are one or two outstanding communities for the participatory poverty assessment, Gonsalves said.
He said the analysis and production of a full analytical report as well as the processing of all components are expected to be completed within the next three months since there is some fieldwork still to be done on the participatory poverty assessment, it is likely that work on this component will extend beyond the next quarter.