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CSO and Ministry of the People conduct poverty survey

Saturday, April 26, 2014

If someone in a high visibility vest comes calling at your door, please don’t turn him away. It could be someone from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) doing a survey of your living conditions for the Ministry of the People and Social Development. Check the back of the vest to make sure the logo of the ministry are on it and then let him in. Make sure you have the time, though, for he will do a very detailed interview with you. He will not only ask you if you buy chicken, but what parts.



This and other information will be compiled in a report on the living conditions of 7,000 people in T&T for the ministry. The information will guide them on what policies to make and programmes to create. The ministry held a press conference at the CL Building on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday to launch the survey. In the survey, which began last Thursday and will end in June, 7,000 people randomly selected from all over T&T, will be interviewed. 



This is the fourth survey of this kind done by the CSO in T&T, the last being in 2005. Gary Tagaille, director of the National Poverty Reduction and Eradication Research and Policy Unit, said specific indicators will be used to help determine at what level of poverty people are living in. Questions around social demographics, like your age, gender, health, what amenities you have in your home, education, income, expenditure, what kind of food items and non-food items you buy will be asked.


Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin said poverty reduction is a key issue for the Government. “This survey will provide the Government with important data on the demographics of households, the resources and services available to them and their living standards.” She said the last survey gave the Government a clear sense of how the country was faring. “It identified pockets of poverty, areas where resources were not sufficiently accessible to citizens and the kinds of responses needed from the Government.


“From the 2005 survey, we were able to determine some of the characteristics of the poor and vulnerable. “For example, most of the households identified as poor were headed by single females. “To address this, the Government improved funding to those programmes targeting this group. More skills training programmes, particularly for women, were introduced and sustained over the period.” She said more than $2 million were given out in grants over the last year t0 488 people.


Sterling Chadee, CSO director, said the statistical office will be responsible for field operations and assured that all workers were made to take an oath of secrecy. “The CSO always had an iron-clad confidentiality. We never strayed from that.” Chadee said fieldwork in these times is very difficult and identified dogs and crime as two problems. He said very good poverty reports were produced from the last three surveys. The last survey found that 16.7 per cent of the population (215,000 people) were living below the poverty line.


This poverty line was calculated at $665 per month. Poor households were likely to have low levels of education. The ministry said the information was critical in identifying suitable  locations for the Government’s Early Childhood Care Centres. Information from this survey was used to help shape the ministry’s other outreach programmes. Concerning food cards stolen from the ministry’s office last Wednesday, communications manager Dzifa Job said,“The Police were immediately notified, along with First Citizens Bank. 


“The ministry is co-operating fully with investigations into this matter.” More than 200 food cards valued at more than $300,000 were stolen from a safe at the ministry’s St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, office last Tuesday night. Job did not divulge any more information.


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