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CSO report shows: Grande hardest hit in equality index
Unequal access to social services is creating huge gaps in the rate at which different communities are experiencing changes in their health, education and income status. That is one finding from an Inequality Adjusted Human Development Index (INHDI) study published by the Central Statistical Office (CSO). Among the hardest-hit regions is Sangre Grande, which, together with Mayaro/Rio Claro and Tobago, is described in the recently-launched Human Development Atlas 2012 as ranking lowest countrywide in the INHDI. In United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) lingo, INHDI is described as “a measure of the level of human development of people in a society that accounts for inequality.” In the T&T study, not only is Sangre Grande at the bottom of the table for gender-based inequalities and educational achievement, but it is also, in relative terms, among the worst affected by chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. CSO director Dave Clement says an analytical approach employing statistics in this way can “inform evidence-based public policy.”
That, he said, could lead to “greater equity in the allocation of public resources; creating the opportunity to transform communities, improve the quality of life of the citizenry and offer the people of Trinidad and Tobago the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.” Social researcher Dr Fredericka Deare, who has done extensive work in eastern Trinidad, says politicians and policymakers need to focus more heavily on empirical data in tailoring approaches to social inequalities. “Sometimes you hear politicians and even some technocrats making statements and when you are out on the field you see something else,” Dr Deare told the T&T Guardian. In the case of the eastern regions of Sangre Grande and Mayaro/Rio Claro, a steady decline in economic prospects, particularly in the agriculture and energy-sector related sectors, could be cited as being among the greatest contributors to the low achievement figures, it was stated. In reviewing the health, education and income for the INHDI, the atlas noted that Mayaro/Rio Claro, Tobago and Sangre Grande regions ranked lowest. Between 2008 and 2009, however, Tobago, Point Fortin and Tunapuna/Piarco had the greatest total percentage losses in human development, while San Fernando had the lowest value in human development within the same period.
For chronic illnesses, Penal/ Debe, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Couva/ Tabaquite/Talparo and Tunapuna/Piarco regions were the least affected by inequality (0.5 per cent or less in human-development loss), in terms of the long and healthy life dimension due to chronic illness. Tobago, Port-of-Spain, Sangre Grande and San Juan/Laventille had a higher score of loss (greater than two per cent) and were therefore the most affected by inequality The rates for primary and secondary educational attainment showed a loss of less than 0.1 per cent in Diego Martin, Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas, Couva/ Tabaquite/Talparo, Tobago, Point Fortin and Siparia. But Mayaro/Rio Claro, Arima and Sangre Grande all had a ranking greater than 1.5 per cent of human development loss over the same period. In secondary and higher education, Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Tunapuna/Piarco and Diego Martin had a lower percentage loss in human development due to inequalities. However, Point Fortin, Siparia and Princes Town had the highest percentage ranking, which meant that the loss in human development due to inequalities in secondary and higher educational attainment was greatest.
Former UNDP resident co-ordinator Dr Marcia de Castro, says, in the introduction to the atlas, that while the country registered positive trends in “important aggregate economic indicators,” it had not been excluded from “experiencing growing levels of poverty and inequality observed in income, education, life expectancy and other important social and economic indicators. “The visible slowdown in the international economy that started in 2008 has also negatively affected the country’s main markets and contributed to a decrease in the number and quality of available jobs and opportunities for many,” De Castro says. Deare says the greater use of statistics and reliable data will lead to more effective development projects. “In the absence of information, I am not sure we are getting the kinds of results we ought to,” she said. She added that sometimes baseline information was used in the design and implementation of projects but in the absence of continuous monitoring and measuring, a proper grasp of the eventual outcomes of important interventions was missed.
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