Ministry of Social Development collaborates with UNDP and UNICEF on Poverty Reduction Strategy

Talking Poverty: (L-R) Sharifa Ali-Abdullah, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten, Richard Blewitt, UN Resident Representative, UNDP Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten, Professor Karl Theodore, Minister of Social Development and Family Services, the Hon. Cherrie Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, and Permanent Secretaries Joanne Deoraj, Ian Ramdahin and Jacinta Bailey-Sobers.

“For some time now it has been recognised, that the traditional income based poverty measures by themselves, do not adequately capture the nature and depth of poverty, but that a clearly defined multidimensional approach, creates a more comprehensive picture of people living in poverty”.

This was one of the many ‘take away points’ highlighted by Minister of Social Development and Family Services, The Honourable Cherrie Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, during the dissemination seminar to discuss the findings of the focus group discussions held in Trinidad on the perceptions of poverty. The seminar took place on Wednesday 31st January, 2018 at the UN House, 3A Chancery Lane Port of Spain.

The conducting and coordination of the focus groups and the preparation of the report on the findings were undertaken by the HEU, Centre for Health Economics, UWI. Also present at the seminar were UNDP Resident Coordinator, Richard Blewitt, Jacinta Bailey-Sobers and Joanne Deoraj, Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and Planning and Development respectively; Professor Karl Theodore of the HEU, Centre for Health Economics, UWI as well as other representatives of stakeholder organizations.

The Minister also told those present that global poverty patterns have shown that over three (3) billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. Additionally, more that 80% of the world’s population live in countries where income differentials are widening. She indicated that the Ministry was committed to collaboration with the UNDP, UNICEF, UWI and other key stakeholder agencies, to ensure that sound data are available to drive the development of a National Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS), which is in keeping with the Ministry’s mandate to safeguard the social safety net for the vulnerable in our society.

The focus group sessions took place in the 14 Municipal regions in Trinidad during September to November 2017, to generate a national definition of poverty, inclusive of the various perceptions of poverty and an analysis of the living conditions and the numerous manifestations of child poverty. A similar exercise is expected to be completed in Tobago shortly.

The findings have shown that poverty means different things to different persons. UNDP’s Richard Blewitt expressed how pleased both the UNDP and UNICEF were to participate and collaborate in the findings and pledged these organizations’ support towards the development of the NPRS. The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services looks forward to the next phase of the development process which includes:

Completion of consultations in Tobago;

  • Implementation of the National Social Mitigation Plan which would ensure the rationalization of the many overlapping social programmes, as well as an integrated model for social services delivery through the introduction of a Standardized Means Test; and
  • Completion of the 2018 Survey of Living Conditions (SLC) through the CSO, which will provide more current statistical data.

It is the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s expectation that the data received in this project will inform all its plans and programmes as it seeks to perfect it’s targeting mechanisms aimed at considerably reducing poverty by 2030.



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