For 60 years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided development assistance to the Caribbean region to advance: “Safer, more prosperous Caribbean communities.”
Despite significant strides made over the years, Eastern and Southern Caribbean countries remain susceptible to myriad threats that impact the lives and livelihoods of citizens and vulnerable populations. The region continues to grapple with the effects of the global economic recession that hampered economic growth and contributed to labor instability and widespread job loss. Drug and human trafficking is growing, new crises in Venezuela affecting migration to Trinidad and Tobago, and traditional problems such as health epidemics and natural disasters place the region at the crossroads of real and complex risks.
Youth in the region suffer from high school dropout rates, unemployment, the breakdown of traditional family and community structures, high levels of domestic violence, and substance abuse. These factors increase their risk for involvement in crime and violence. Due to small geographic size, low coastal elevations, and fragile landscapes, Caribbean countries are highly susceptible to impacts from weather-related events, with increased storms, drought, and other climate-related natural disasters causing more widespread damage in recent years. In addition to adversely affecting food security, infrastructural development, and economic growth, extreme weather events have led to losses for the region’s tourism, agricultural, and fisheries sectors. In the area of health, the Caribbean region has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 250,000 people currently living with the disease. Mosquito-borne illnesses such as Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika are also critical health threats to the region.