The Eastern and Southern Caribbean (ESC) region includes the six independent countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, all of which emerged as independent nations only in the last 50 years. Situated between South America and the United States, the region has become a key conduit for regional trade as well as, more recently, illicit drug en route from South America to North America and Europe.
The ten countries of the ESC region vary in demographic and ethnic composition, and the drivers of economic growth in the two South American countries (mining and agriculture) and in Trinidad and Tobago (energy) differ from those of the six other OECS island states and Barbados (tourism). Yet these ten countries share some of the most severe challenges to their sustainable development. Those common challenges include:
- Crime and security. As counter-drug enforcement and interdiction efforts clamp down on trafficking routes in Central America and Mexico, trafficking in the Caribbean has intensified. With the high unemployment that has resulted from the post-2008 economic recession, the lure of gangs and criminal activity has been strong for many youths, particularly the growing number of males who have underperformed in primary and secondary school.
- HIV/AIDS. The Caribbean has the world’s second-highest regional rate of HIV prevalence, behind only Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Global Climate Change. Increasing weather volatility and storm surges are threatening communities and taking a growing toll on economic infrastructure throughout the Caribbean. In the longer run, rising sea levels pose an enormous challenge, particularly to the seven (7) small island developing states most dependent on beach tourism.
To address these development challenges, the USAID/ESC proposes three development objectives (DOs) and requests the program resources, staff, and operating expense budget required to achieve them:
- Increasing regional coordination of crime prevention,
- Increasing the use of alternative justice systems for juvenile offenders, and
- Increasing the ability of youths and their communities to withstand crime and violence.
- Increasing utilization of prevention, care, and treatment services,
- Improving the quality of HIV prevention, care and support services, and
- Improving the enabling environment for the delivery of HIV/AIDS services
- Strengthening use of climate science and analysis for decision making and
- Reducing the negative impact of climate change on vulnerable populations.
USAID’s work in the ESC region directly supports United States foreign policy priorities, fortifying efforts to stem crime and violence and sustain development gains achieved over the past three decades.
USAID supports Disaster Risk Reduction programs that save lives, alleviate human suffering, and reduce the social and economic impact of disasters in the region. The focus of USAID’s disaster risk reduction efforts is to enhance local and national self-sufficiency in disaster preparedness and management throughout the region and to build the partnerships necessary to accomplish goals. Many of USAID’s programs strengthen the capacity of established national and regional disaster management institutions to meet the majority of emergency needs before and after a catastrophic event. In FY 2014, USAID/OFDA provided more than $24.5 million for disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean and Latin American region. This funding was used to support efforts at the regional and country level. Recent examples in include:
- Emergency Disaster Assistance to Dominica: Over $165,000 of USG disaster relief assistance targeted to Dominica and assessment teams from USAID/OFDA
- Community-Based Early Warning System: USAID/OFDA provided $70,000 in FY 2014 to the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) to implement a community-based early warning system in the low-lying coastal area of St. James Parish, Barbados.
REGIONAL MARINE CONSERVATION
Marine scientists have cited the Caribbean region as one of the world’s important centers of biodiversity due to the range of marine and terrestrial species present. USAID is pleased to be partnering with The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program (CMBP). USAID has entered into a Cooperative Agreement with TNC for the implementation of the Program. The Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program represents a $10 million dollar investment by the U.S. Government and when combined with TNC’s additional contribution of $2.5 million dollars, will help ensure that key marine ecosystems across the region are protected. Of this, almost $1.5 million U.S. Dollars have been allocated to the Grenadine Bank Seascape, which lies within the marine boundaries of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
USAID/ESC will concentrate resources in the neediest of countries and in those with the host-country commitment and capacity to use our assistance effectively.
Last updated: September 25, 2015