Archive for June 2016

Do you want to learn more about business opportunities? Join us at the IDB Procurement Fair!


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The Big, Little Neighbours: A Step forward to deepening the relations between the Caribbean and the United States


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by Therese Turner-Jones


Caribbean countries have one of the world’s highest dependency rates on fossil fuels for energy. The IDB is helping the development and funding of programmes to improve domestic energy efficiency and support diversification towards renewables (Liquefied Natural Gas, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave power). By introducing newer and more efficient sources of energy, a more competitive environment for business can flourish.For a very long time, the U.S. and the Caribbean have taken strides together that supported their mutual development. Last June, a new chapter of cooperation was unfolded with the passage of the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act 2016. The areas of engagement of the Act are central to the dialogue on development in the Caribbean and complement the work of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the energy and private sector, as well as in citizen’s security. Before going forward, it is important to reflect upon what has already been tried and accomplished on these challenges.

Following that thread, years of an adverse environment have left the private sector dominated by small, old, non-innovating and non-exporting firms. The IDB has supported the dialogue between the public and private sector by funding the first set of firm-level data, the Compete Caribbean Program, to truly understand their characteristics. Furthermore, the Bank has been enhancing and financing solutions that promote competitiveness and reduce red tape.

On another important front, high crime rates are a serious obstacle for economic growth and sustainable development. They erode confidence in government, reduce the competitiveness of industries and services; negatively alter the investment climate, contribute to emigration and lead to the loss of skilled educated citizens. The IDB is working with Caribbean governments to develop and fund national Citizen Security and Justice Programmes (CSJPs) in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

Without a doubt, the Act is a step forward to deepening the relations between the Caribbean and the United States, a multilateral supporter of the Bank’s work on development. It represents an opportunity for hitting the mark on development for the Caribbean, the chance for everybody to learn and do more together, to create vibrant economies and communities in the Caribbean, where people are productive, safe, and happy.


Photo: Willie Heinz



The Dark Side of Debt


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Author:  Inder Jit Ruprah

output_BNNmi4The Caribbean is often described using the moniker “high debt, low growth,” yet this has not truly been the case until recently. The Caribbean Economic Team’s Quarterly Regional Bulletin contends that debt is or is forecasted to become too high in the Caribbean—perhaps crossing into the “dark side.”

The Caribbean debt benchmark, used to judge whether debt is too high, is derived from Caribbean economists Greenidge and Craigwell’s estimated relation between debt and economic growth (see figure). The inverted U– shaped relation shows that for a debt-to-GDP ratio lower than 30 percent, any increase has a positive marginal and average effect on economic growth. However, for a debt-to-GDP ratio higher than that level (the turning point on the inverted-U curve), any further increase has a negative marginal effect; furthermore, for higher than 60 percent, dubbed “the dark side,” the effect (marginal and average) becomes negative.

Three tourism-dependent countries—The Bahamas Barbados, and Jamaica—are in the “dark side” of the debt–growth relation. However, commodity exporters—Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago—are still below the 60 percent threshold, which is likely to change. The International Monetary Fund’s medium-term projections show that the debt ratio for Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago will exceed the threshold at 61 and 92 percent of GDP, respectively, by 2017. Suriname’s debt ratio is expected to stabilize at less than 60 percent of GDP under the auspices of a program from the International Monetary Fund. Jamaica and—to a lesser extent—Barbados are forecasted to reduce their debt ratios but remain in the dark side of the debt–growth relation. As being done in Jamaica, fiscal efforts are necessary for mitigating debt.

Miss Jamaica World, a Role Model for the Caribbean


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By Gabrielle Patterson

Miss Jamaica World’s take on gender inequality and how she became a philanthropist and role model for Caribbean women

Dr. Sanneta Myrie started life with the odds stacked against her. She was born to a very young mother and raised in one of Jamaica’s toughest neighborhoods, the inner-city community of Greenwich Town. Always keeping her humble beginnings in mind, Sanneta gives credit to her adoptive father for giving her a “second chance in life” to reach for her dreams and make the most out of every opportunity she is given. She excelled in school, went on to complete medical school—all while participating in beauty contests, which gave her an enviable platform as a role model for girls throughout the Caribbean.

Crowned in 2015 as Miss Jamaica World, Sanneta uses the platform to advocate for the causes she believes in, including gender equality, access to education and healthcare. She recently was invited to speak at the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C., where she discussed her philanthropic efforts and shared her perspectives on non-traditional gender and occupational roles in the Caribbean.

In many parts of the world, women face restricted access to education and limited opportunities to succeed in careers that are non-traditional for their gender, such as medicine, engineering and technology. Gender equality plays a great role not only in their personal development but also in the development of a country’s economy. Sanneta notes that gender equality in the workplace, which ensures that women can participate fully, contributes to economic development and growth.

Trained as a medical doctor in her native Jamaica, Sanneta hopes to one day volunteer with the international group Doctors Without Borders.  Miss Jamaica World Organization (MJWO) and Fusion Consulting Jamaica organized Sanneta’s recent trip to Africa, where she volunteered with the Shashamane Sunrise Foundation, a volunteer organization that supplements and fortifies children’s education in developing countries. The tour included a visit to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, where she called on local communities to join forces with the volunteers.

Fully embracing the “Beauty with a Purpose” mantra of Miss World, MJWO has collaborated with various non-governmental organizations in Jamaica, including The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, and the School for Therapy, Education and Parenting of Children with Multiple Disabilities Center as well as the United States-based United Missions of Good Will.

When Sanneta isn’t busy representing Jamaica and the Caribbean, in her spare time she is a cross-country and distance runner and loves dancing. But what is the role she feels most privileged to have?

Watch the video below to find out:


Empowerment starts at home- with one’s partner

Sanneta believes that collaboration and partnership inside the home is essential if women are to break the glass ceiling in the workplace. She believes in the UN’s He For She Campaign, a campaign made popular by the actress Emma Watson, which encourages men and boys to stand up for the inequalities that women face. She says, “When we think of marriage, having an empowered woman can help the union within itself. To advocate for our women, as men, to have equal rights, equal pay and the ability to break the glass ceiling can only help the partnership between a man and a woman. If a woman is to help and supplement in the workplace or a corporate setting, you want a woman who has been given the opportunities to be adequate for her job to effectively and efficiently support the framework that is needed to achieve any task.”

Being a Woman is not a Barrier to Studying in Jamaica

As a young woman in the previously male-dominated field of medicine, Sanneta was surprised to see that girls outnumbered the boys by a ratio of 4:1. Women are free to go after the “non traditional roles” including engineering, science and technology and succeed in them.

In Jamaica, there are no formal gender restrictions in education or in occupations that you may find in other countries; however, it doesn’t mean it is always easy. Although she, with her humble upbringing, managed to complete her studies, not all of her fellow classmates could afford to stay in school.

Interestingly, Sanneta believes that young women may actually have a certain advantage in the academic space. “The disparity between women and men in academics is driven by a complex mechanism: a cultural problem,” Sanneta shares, “There is a cultural idea that books are feminine, and more pressure is put on girls to succeed in academics in comparison to boys.”

Broken Homes lead to Broken Health?

In Jamaica, a high percentage of households are headed by a single parent who struggle to raise their children in a difficult environment. Having been raised with her brother by her adoptive single father, Sanneta knows how important it is for children to have both parents in the home. There are certain things that only a mother can teach and only a father can teach but more importantly a partnership of two caring parents is essential for the emotional and intellectual development of children.

Raising a child on one’s own can be extremely stressful for a parent. For women, especially, it has been noted that heart disease is the number one killer and is directly linked to stress.

There is a strain on healthcare in Jamaica because citizens wait to see the doctor until the problem becomes so severe. By that time, urgent care is often required, which is costly not only for the patients but the government’s healthcare system.

As you can see, Sanneta is full of interesting ideas. She hopes to touch as many lives as she can through medicine and performing arts.




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By Florencia López-Boo

Blog - child care

There is not enough evidence about the specific critical and cost-effective actions needed to improve child care quality in Latin America. In contrast with sectors such as primary education, in which the region has invested significant effort in collecting indicators on teacher quality, resources in schools, and levels of student learning (PISA), governments still lack systematized and reliable information about child care services. If these data were available, what would we use it for?

Indeed, this information is key to identifying and monitoring compliance with a set of quality standards, at both publicly and privately funded centers. Having comparable data on the quality of child care centers will contribute to the creation of a measurable accountability mechanism for the investments made by countries.

To help fill this gap, we produced the book How is Child Care Quality Measured?, an easy-to-use toolkit that is also available in Spanish.

Evidence presented to the readers is listed below:

  • Discusses the definition of quality childcare services.
  • Focuses on quality measurement from a theoretical and practical viewpoint.
  • Provides an index of different types of assessments and instruments available to measure the quality of childcare centers that serve 0-3 year-old children.
  • Discusses the decisions that should be evaluated prior to taking measurements.
  • Systematizes the information about tools that the reader may use to compare among diverse dimensions, costs and benefits.

The importance of measurement

In recent years, governments mainly focused their efforts on expanding child care coverage for young children (0-36 months of age).  However, we know that quality of these services is low. More importantly, process quality, that is the quality of interactions between children and adults in the classroom are fundamental for children under 3 years of age.What are governments doing in Latin America and the Caribbean to measure quality?

In general, governments regulate and measure the quality of care services through structural indicators, such as basic infrastructure and the professional profile of caregivers. However, this kind of indicators does not capture information about the processes that affect cognitive, emotional health and child development. They cannot identify areas for improvement in process quality and to monitor changes over time either.Three steps to measure quality of care:

Before the measurement, we must decide:

  • The purpose of the measurement, the unit of analysis, the method of data collection, the choice of the instrument.
  • The need for adaptation and contextualization.
  • Cost:  Licenses, fees, translations, need to adapt, and /or approval of the modified version.

During the measurement, we  have to think about:

  • The training needs.
  • Logistics.

After the measurement, we should plan:

  • The scoring of the instrument, analysis and interpretation of quality thresholds, the use of the data.
  • The frequency measurement – when are we making a new measurement?

We hope this publication will serve as a guide for researchers and professionals interested in translating the discussion on improving child care quality into concrete actions and results. What does your government do to measure quality? How frequently? What type of personnel/staff conducts this measurements? Let us know by leaving a comment below or mentioning @BIDgente on Twitter.

Florencia López-Boo is a senior social protection economist with the Social Protection and Health Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

This article was originally published at First Steps Blog, the childhood development blog of the Inter-American Development Bank.


Three Strategies to Transform the Caribbean’s Energy Sector


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by  Ariel Yepez

Solar in JA

Photo: IDB Sustainable Cities, Solar energy project in Jamaica.

The Caribbean energy sector is ripe for change – its long-standing dependence on fossil fuels has ensured that citizens pay some of the highest energy rates in the world.  However, by making a commitment to changes in infrastructure, investment in sustainable energy, and the modernization of the legal and regulatory framework, the region can move towards a more sustainable future.

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Do you want to be part of the urban planning of Latin America and the Caribbean?


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by Andres Blanco


Hillside view of tropical city Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Hillside view of tropical city Port of Spain, Trinidad.


It’s time to start planning before urbanizing … and today we tell you how to apply for an opportunity to investigate and deepen your knowledge on urban development.

Cities are engines of economic, social and cultural growth, but they also present challenges for sustainable and integral development. The way cities respond to these challenges in a sustainable, equitable and competitive way will depend on how they manage their territory, their infrastructure, their housing options and land use. Urban planning is a critical tool to address this.

We invite you to apply to the Visiting Scholarship Program call for research proposal, a joint initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Korean Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS).

This program seeks to conduct joint research on Latin America and the Caribbean in urban issues and find implications through a comparison with the case of South Korea.

The Korean experience offers a unique opportunity, since this country has achieved sustained rapid economic growth in recent decades. The Korean urban planning and institutional system have played a key role to achieve this development.

This year, the program will focus on three research areas:

  1. Metropolitan Governance

Cities are growing rapidly outstripping the original administrative boundaries and interacting with other urban areas creating metropolitan areas. To take advantage of the productive potential of these metropolitan areas and to push national competitiveness and economic growth is important to have adequate institutions and determine an efficient management of such conglomerates. In Seoul, the government has invested conspicuously for the Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA). An important element of metropolitan governance is to have a transport infrastructure. To address traffic congestion and concentration of population in the SMA, the government has implemented an excellent model of transit-oriented development.

  1. Special Economic Zones

To improve the living conditions of the nation and control population growth, Korea has created special economic zones where it concentrates specific urban functions. An example is the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) created in 2003 as a center for Cooperation Initiative Northeast Asia and to respond to domestic economic demands in response to the economic crisis of the 1990s. IFEZ has been designed to provide ideal conditions for business and tax advantages, logistical support and administrative services to attract high-quality foreign direct investment and at the same time pushing national competitiveness.

  1. Land Management

In the area   of land management, the Korean government has established a series of master plans – the Comprehensive National Territorial Plans (CNTP) – in which it incorporates the fundamental elements of urban and regional development, determines the location for industries, transport infrastructure and information, housing and land use.

South Korea has several and successful experiences. This is a unique opportunity to learn from their model of development. The program is offered in English, so participants must be proficient in this language.

Don´t miss the opportunity to be part of the urban planning of Latin America and the Caribbean!

Find out more information on the call in English and Spanish.




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Shadow Economies and Data Quality: Consequences for Economic Planning and Management


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by Mark D. Wenner and Dillon Clarke


Shadow Market


The terms “shadow,” “underground,” or “parallel” economies are interchangeable terms used to describe economic activities, legal and illegal, that are not registered in official estimates of gross domestic product (Smith, 1994, p. 18). See table below for what constitute shadow economic activities.

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How does open data help the agricultural sector?


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By Carmine Paolo De Salvo, Rachel Boyce, Ivette Fis de Melo



Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11% of the value of world food production and possess 24% of the arable land in the world. Open data is a powerful source of information that can help in making decisions and formulating policies to foster the development of the agricultural sector, and consequently to help improve productivity in the region.

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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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