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Belize Population: 2nd Highest Percentage Below National Poverty Line at 41.3%

Studies and surveys conducted on Belize are done regularly in various aspects in order to get a better understanding on the developments and progress made in the country.  Joan Burke-Skeen who works with young persons and family life, she gave a brief report on findings in a recent country assessment during The Morning Show today.


“We saw of course some moderate to good progress on the millennium development goals. Throughout the region we were able to reduce hunger which was very good, infant mortality, we see an increase in access to safe drinking water and if you listen to the public service announcements from our own water authority, apparently in Belize we are leading in that in terms of that. Reversing the AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean, now we’ve actually seen a sharp decrease in new infections and a 59% in reduction in deaths, however what we continue to see throughout the region is exceptionally high rate of adolescent pregnancies with Guyana being first with a report of 97 adolescent births per 1000, followed by Belize as 90. The recent MICS released by UNICEF reported 74 but this assessment for Belize we are saying its 90 per 1000 and third Jamaica with 72 per thousand. This we see as significantly higher than less developed countries of the world where the overall for less developed countries is 53 per thousand and the global average is 49 per thousand, Belize is almost twice the global amount. We also see less than 50% of our region’s population age 25 and under or older receive at least a secondary education with a high population or a proportion of females ages 15 – 19 being hampered from getting such education because of adolescent pregnancy. We are also seeing that the enrollment rate in school we see it peak at 11 so we are seeing many of our 11 year olds in school but when we reach 12 we start seeing them out of school and we are seeing this in Belize.”

When it comes to crime and violence, Burke also spoke of the regional rates on homicide and incarceration as well as poverty.


“In regards to crime and violence I just want to share from the report that the homicide and incarceration rates in some of our countries in the region is extremely high and coupled with poverty. Belize reported the second highest percentage of its population below the national poverty line at 41.3%. Haiti was first with 77%, St. Vincent and the Grenadines third with 37.5%. However we look at unemployment Belize reported the second highest unemployment at 24.2%, Grenada at first with 24.9%, St. Lucia third with 21.2%. We reported number one for the prison population at 533 per 100,000, followed by Barbados but when we look at Jamaica where we hear everyday gun violence and all of that, maybe the police in the street kill the criminals, Jamaica reported 152 per 100,000 population of prison inmates despite the fact that Jamaica reported number one for homicide. The reason I shared this is because what we see here in Belize and Ernesto you ask what are we doing I think that the way we address some of the issues especially when it comes to crime and violence it’s more punitive than rehabilitative and again it stems to how we manage situations even in the homes. The level of domestic violence, the level of gender based violence that we are exposed to in the homes we feel that that is the only way we can resolve conflicts, we see even among the political parties the way we get and the attack among leaders the attack now even among religious leaders and at the end of the day all that impact is impacting on our young people.”

These numbers were taken out of the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Assessment done in 2015 that made assessments toward national development.