Archive for January 2015

All disabilities are not created equal


Written by

by Charmaine Edmonson-Nelson

blog-illustration-2Illustration by Jonathan K. Nelson

There are disabilities, there are disabilities and then there are disabilities! This was brought home starkly to me during last summer, when I was enrolling my son in a week long day camp for children with special needs. A simple question from the volunteer at the registration desk sent me into a panic.

“Does he have a hearing or a speech problem?” she asked.

“Neither,” I said.

“Does he sign?” she then asked.

“Sign? He knows how to write his name,” I responded, confused.

Looking around me, I realized that she was referring to sign language. The other children in the camp were hearing impaired. The surge of emotions came quickly and uncontrollably. Could I really leave him with these strangers? Were they prepared to care for a child with an intellectual disability? He can definitely hear and speak, but he may not understand what they are saying. > Read more

Jamaica takes the leap in Doing Business Indicators: 5 lessons for the wider Caribbean


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by Navita Anganu-Ramroop

morenoConstruction of the Marriott Hotel in Jamaica; visit by IDB officials

The World Bank Doing Business indicators have long been regarded as a measure of competitiveness across the globe, sometimes controversially as is the Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum. While some countries ignore the rankings, others make a concerted effort to improve the factors attributable to the indicators. After all, who knows which investor is looking at it to make the next big decision on where to invest? > Read more

Welcome to Belize’s Cayo District


Written by

By Ishmael Quiroz (with contributions from Sybille Nuenninghoff and Jacqueline Dragone) 


Tourists and locals alike love the district’s new welcome center and surrounding plaza, built with IDB support.

While Belize inhabits just a small corner of Central America, it boasts a diverse natural landscape and a rich culture with roots firmly planted in both the Caribbean as well as the intriguing history of the Mayan world.  The Cayo District, located in western Belize, in particular, hosts a myriad of natural wonders including pine forests, waterfalls and verdant hills, together with ancient temples and a warm and friendly people.

In Cayo, the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena always seem to be standing ready with welcoming arms for travelers interested in adventure, history and Belizean culture. And the first stop for any visitor has to be the Cayo Welcome Center in San Ignacio Town. This brand-spanking new venue is a hub for both tourists and locals alike, and offers a chance to set out experiencing the beauty of Belize. > Read more

9 sources of financing for your climate change project


Written by

by Agustín Cáceres

9 fuentes

One of the principal challenges to implementing a climate change project is finding adequate sources of financing. The following is a list of nine options for financing public, private and civil society projects:

1. Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology

This fund, Fondo Regional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria, (FONTAGRO, finances projects for scientific and technological investigation and innovation in the agricultural sector, with the goal of contributing to the reduction of  poverty, improving the competitiveness of agricultural food chains and the sustainable management of natural resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The fund functions as a competitive and transparent mechanism that finances regional projects that must involve the participation of at least two member countries. Proposals are evaluated by specialists who are not part of the fund, using criteria such as the project’s economic, social and environmental impact, technical quality and institutional capacity.

This fund finances projects averaging US$400.00.

2. Energy Environmental Partnership (EEP)

The EEP is a program run by the foreign ministry of Finland and designed to increase access to modern energy services and promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It offers grants for the development or expansion of inclusive business models and supplies seed capital for the initial stages of projects for sustainable energy with local or international partners.

The EEP operates in the Andean region (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia), Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) and the Dominican Republic.

The maximum financing per project is 200,000 euros.

3. The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund)

Norfund invests in projects implemented by sustainable enterprises in developing countries. Norfund investments aim to promote the development of new businesses and contribute to economic growth and the reduction of poverty.

The eligible countries in Latin America are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

4. Infrastructure Fund (InfraFund)

InfraFund is a fast-disbursing fund that helps public, private and mixed capital partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify, develop and prepare projects for sustainable transportation infrastructure with a high probability of achieving its financial closure. InfraFund also promotes the establishments of public-private partnerships for providing transportation infrastructure.

Projects can receive a maximum grant of US$1.5 million, and there’s a fast approval process for proposals seeking less than US$500,000.

5. Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA)

The GCCA acts as a platform for dialogue and the interchange of experiences between the European Union and partner developing countries on climate policies and practical approaches to integrating climate change in development strategies. The results of the dialogue and the exchange of information fuel the discussions about the post-2012 climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The total funding available is 139.6 million euros


6. The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

This network, supported by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, assists decision makers in the design and implementation of development strategies on climate change through a combination of investigation, consultancy services and the exchange of knowledge in support of local management policies in the public, private and non-government sectors.

The financing available is £500,000 per project (about US$857,000) although the majority of the awards are between £25,000 (US$42,800) and £250,000 (US$428,000).

7. Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP)

This program for small farmers was launched by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to help small farmers incorporate climate and environmental considerations into their activities. It seeks adaptions and offers grants from various donors totaling approximately US$1 billion per year.

8. Fondo Amazonia of Brazil’s National Development Bank

The Amazon Fund seeks to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments designed to prevent, control and combat deforestation, as well as to promote conservation and the sustainable use of the forests in the Amazon Biome. The fund also supports the development of systems to monitor and control deforestation in other ecosystems in Brazil and other tropical countries.

The fund has an allocation of $1 billion.

9. UNDP Fund// Millenium Development Goals of Spain.

This fund finances collaborative activities that complement some of the United Nations programs on the challenges of multidimensional development. In the area of climate change, the fund facilitates access to new financing mechanisms and supports adaptive activities.

The fund’s objectives are:

Support policies and programs that can generate a significant and measurable impact on some of the Millennium Development Goals.

Finance experimentation and the expansion of successful pilot programs.

Act as a catalyst for innovative development practices.

Adopt mechanisms that improve the quality of the assistance for development.

The total financing available in this program is US$90 million.


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The best beaches in Latin America: development and conservation


Written by

by Michael G. Donovan

Brazil_Trindade_BeachAuthor & User  (WT-shared) Whatsinaname, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 Carlos Argentino, one of the classic interpreters of tropical music, used to sing, “Life is more fun in the sea.” And it’s true that beaches in Latin America and the Caribbean are among the best in the world. They are public spaces that bring together all of society, and many of them contribute to the preservation of the environment and the economic development of their regions. > Read more

Defining Expectations: An interview with Jamaica’s Maureen Hayden-Cater on women and leadership


Written by

by Elizabeth Nicoletti

Ms. Hayden-Cater discusses women and leadershipA Caribbean bank leader highlights her experience promoting gender equality both inside and out. Maureen Hayden-Cater, President of Jamaica’s First Global Bank, visited the IDB Group to participate in our speaker series “Promoting Women Leaders in the Private Sector.” The initiative is part of the IDB Group Private Sector’s goal to showcase women leaders in the region and strengthen diversity and gender equality. Before her keynote speech, which will be followed by a question and answer session with IDB Group staff, I reached out to First Global’s President to learn more about what women and leadership mean to her.

Can you describe a woman leader in your life and the role that she played? > Read more

A coffee discussion on Caribbean’s competitiveness…


Written by

By Ricardo Sierra and Sarosh R. Khan


This is the third in a series of five blogs on economic stagnation in the Caribbean. The first two can be found at: Smallness hurts, but does it constrain growth? and Is there something wrong with the Caribbean?” Stay tuned for more!

Sarosh: Good morning Ricardo! Hope you got some sleep. Shall we go and have coffee and talk about Caribbean’s competitiveness? I was up most of the night and could use a boost.

Ricardo: Yeah sure. You know how much I like coffee!

Sarosh: I was reading the analysis in Is There a Caribbean Sclerosis? and see that the real issue is not that the Caribbean is more expensive as measured by the real effective exchange rate (REER) but  rather that it is difficult to do business in the region. Is that right?

Ricardo: Exactly! If you look at the Global Competitiveness Index, the big tourism countries—The Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica—as well as the commodity exporters—Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago—rank below the rest of small economies (ROSE), defined as economies with population of less than 3 million. (See Figure 1).

Sarosh: But the REER is also an issue, isn’t it? If you look at the trend over the last decade, it is slowly but clearly moving up. (See Figure 2).

Ricardo: Yes, you are right. It is creeping up but, on balance, institutional inefficiencies are more of an issue in the Caribbean than REER. For instance, it might be that the C6 is unable to attract adequate foreign direct investment (FDI) due to institutional reasons.

Sarosh: I see your point. Interestingly, if you add FDI and the current account balance together and look at that metric as a percentage of GDP it tells you whether the FDI adequate finances the current account deficit or not. Comparing the results of this for the C6 with those of ROSE, it is evident that the region has not attracted enough FDI.

Ricardo: Not only that, but much of the FDI that it has attracted has gone towards activities that do not necessarily add to the productive capacity of the Caribbean countries. For example, the Jamaican firm Life of Jamaica Ltd (LOJ) was acquired by the Barbadian conglomerate Sagicor in 2004. The amount that Sagicor paid for LOJ were registered as a large FDI inflow but LOJ continued to provide the same services as before.

Sarosh: Well, Ricardo… thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to me about this. Next time, let us go for coffee to a place that serves Blue Mountain.

Figure 1. Global Competitiveness Index: C6 Relative to ROSE

Global Competitiveness Index_C6 Relative to ROSE

 Source: Is There a Caribbean Sclerosis?

Figure 2. Real Effective Exchange Rate for the C6

Real Effective Exchange Rate for the C6

Figure 3. Current Account Plus FDI, C6 vs ROSE

Current Account Plus FDI, C6 vs ROSE

Source: Is There a Caribbean Sclerosis?

Haiti: getting resettlement right


Written by

by France François


A cloud of smoke billowed from downtown Port-au-Prince. News quickly spread that the dwellings of 1,500 families had been demolished by the Haitian government—some with only 24 hours’ notice—to make way for municipality buildings. Families once displaced by the 2012 earthquake now found themselves once again digging through rubble to salvage a few remaining family heirlooms.

This painful scenario demonstrated that Haiti needed a tailored training course now more than ever. With reconstruction efforts fully underway, the IDB’s total financial commitment in Haiti from 2011 to 2015 is expected to reach US$1,044 million. Many of the projects in these sectors require careful resettlement of people both in the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince and in other cities throughout the country. Over the past four years, the IDB has worked closely with the Haitian authorities on 15 projects that have involved resettlement and/or compensating displaced people in Haiti. With that experience in hand, the IDB was well positioned to work with stakeholders to improve their resettlement capabilities. > Read more

IDB Agrimonitor


Written by

by Rachel Boyce 


Did you know that Jamaicans pay higher prices for farm produce than any other Caribbean country or that Colombia spends the most on agricultural research as a percentage of the national budget?

Researchers and policymakers now have these facts and more at their fingertips through an agricultural database released by the Inter-American Development Bank last spring. The database, called the IDB Agrimonitor, is the first policy-oriented tool for the Latin America and Caribbean region. Efforts to document the impact of agricultural policies on trade relations and government expenditures have been around since the 1940s, when the dawn of refrigeration and the expansion of infrastructure prompted a massive increase in the distribution of agricultural goods that could now travel further afield. By the 1960s, the global economy had expanded so much that researchers began developing “protection theories” to evaluate the impact of tariffs.


While working as an economist for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Professor. Timothy Josling began applying a concept he titled the “producer subsidy equivalent” or “producer support estimate” (PSE) as a way of measuring agricultural competitiveness. With this indicator, governments can measure the annual monetary value of transfers from consumers and taxpayers to agricultural producers, along with spending on services and infrastructure. Today, Josling’s PSE concept has never been so important with important issues such as climate change, food security and regional integration on the agenda.  Together with the IDB, Professor Josling has helped to modernize the use of this indicator through the IDB Agrimonitor.

The historic account of Agricultural Policies is a deep one, influenced by global events; and one which its ancestry may deserve a blog on its own. What matters most, is that researchers and institutions including the IDB have over the years committed to calculating the indicators of agricultural support and the use of these calculations for measuring policy has become invaluable.

For example, did you know that the producer price for Bananas in Ecuador in 2012 was $292, almost twice the price received in 2006 ($150/tonne)? The IDB Agrimonitor can also tell you how this price compares to other countries and the world reference price. There are many other questions to be answered; questions from payments to subsidies and from commodity transfers to support estimates. After all, doesn’t every taxpayer want to know how their hard-earned money is being spent?

This new database makes “agro-knowledge” easy for users. There is no need to search through 100-page reports, or rip the appendix from a study. Best of all, there is no need to send constant reminders to the Ministries or the Central Bank just to know the value of milk production and whether it is soy, goat or cow milk. The truth is, we don’t have that information either but we do have what you are REALLY looking for. The IDB Agrimonitor also goes beyond agriculture and delves into other special topics such as climate change, food security, market integration and agriculture competitiveness.

While the IDB embraces traditional studies and research, the bank is excited to find out how an online data tool can further agricultural information gathering and policymaking. The information is no longer out there, it is right here!! We have done your homework… so go ahead, start searching!!

Barbados Community College Graduation Speech


Written by

by Joel Branski

We were all born in the 20th century. The previous century of our foreparents was a very different place. At the dawn of last century, you travelled on foot, animals, boats or trains. You wrote letters to distant loved ones and went to a library to learn new things. > Read more

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

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