Belize s country poverty assessment 2009
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BELIZE’S COUNTRY POVERTY ASSESSMENT 2009. Summary of the CPA Findings. Background. It is the 3rd exercise to be conducted in Belize, the two others were held in 1995-1996 and 2002.

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Belize s country poverty assessment 2009

Summary of the CPA Findings

National Assessment Team (NAT)

Ministry of Economic Development, Commerce and Industry, and Consumer Protection – Policy and Planning Unit (PPU)


  • It is the 3rd exercise to be conducted in Belize, the two others were held in 1995-1996 and 2002.

  • Results from CPAs have been used in the design of poverty reduction initiatives such as Social Investment Funds, rural enterprise development, and human settlements projects.

  • These results have also informed the design of other projects in the education, agriculture and health sectors.

CPA Objectives

  • To identify the current extent, characteristics, trends and causes of poverty in Belize.

  • To assess the effectiveness of current policies and programmes and their impact on the poor and the vulnerable.

  • To make recommendations for future policies and programmes that can be incorporated into the current NPEAP.

Study Organisation The CPA will be a collaborative effort by consultants (TOC) and Belizean Stakeholders (NAT)

Principal Elements of the CPA

  • Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS)

  • Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs)

  • Institutional Analysis (IA)

LSMS Methodology

The LSMS was carried out in over 2400 HHs in April and May 2009 by SIB staff.

The LSMS questionnaire gathered information at the household and individual levels.

Questions related to demographic, health, education, housing, household expenditure, crime, food security, government programmes, economic activities and coping strategy were asked.

The Definition of Poverty

  • This and other CPAs adopt a wide definition of poverty which includes:

  • - income poverty

  • - lack of basic needs, e.g. water, roads, adequate housing, basic education and health services.

  • lack of wellbeing resulting from the above and from insecurity, vulnerability and inequality.

  • The underlying thread is that poverty is related to the lack or deprivation of factors which are necessary for an acceptable quality of life.

Measurement of Poverty

in Belize

  • Given the difficulties in defining poverty, it is no surprise that the measurement of poverty is also problematic.

  • CPA methodology required the calculation of two poverty lines:

  • The Indigent Line (IL)- represents the minimum cost of a food basket (MFB) needed to provide a healthy diet for an adult male. Households whose expenditure is below this amount are defined as either indigent, critically poor or severely poor

  • The Poverty Line - is made up of the IL together with an allowance for non-food expenditure.
























Hholds 2002

Hholds 2009

Pop 2002

Pop 2009


Poor (not indigent)

Not Poor

Poverty in Belize increased

between 2002 & 2009

- From 24.5% to 31% of households and from 33.5% to 41.3% of the population.

- Severe poverty increased from 7.5% to 10.4% of households and 10.8% to 15.8% of the population.

Increased throughout the country with the exception of Toledo where poverty decreased a little

A similar pattern is observed for indigent poverty Toledo where poverty decreased a little

Several reasons why Toledo where poverty decreased a little

the increase

  • Problems with key sectors/ employers such as the banana, cane and citrus, garments and, recently, the Corozal Free Zone.

  • Little ‘trickle-down’ impact from major growth areas such as San Pedro and Placencia, and the oil sector.

  • Severe flooding in parts of the country in 2007 and 2008.

  • A general stagnation of the economy with little increase in GDP per capita with more unemployment.

2009 Poverty Rates by Toledo where poverty decreased a little

Age Group

Poverty has increased for all age groups – young & old, urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

Difficulties faced by communities - PPAs urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • Note the primacy of economic issues and the frequency of political problems.

  • ‘Seek assistance from a politician’ was also cited most frequently as the main coping strategy when households ran into financial difficulties.

Community PPAs Priorities urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • Enhanced education, training, job opportunities.

  • Access to land, credit and markets to pave the way for work and a sustainable livelihood.

  • Better designed and targeted safety nets for those who need them.

  • Better infrastructure, health care and community and sports facilities.

  • The depoliticising of services and assistance.

Poverty Among Vulnerable Groups urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

Older Population urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • Poverty amongst the elderly is lower than for the population as a whole reflecting the availability of family support and the fairly widespread distribution of pensions, including the NCP which is specifically targeted at the elderly poor with little or no family support.

  • The likelihood of poverty amongst the elderly however varies substantially with their living situation.

  • 30% of the elderly live either on their own or as a couple while the majority live with other family members.

Poverty Amongst the urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

Older Population

Families and Children urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • Main cause of poverty the same as for other groups – lack of income.

  • BUT impact can be much more serious if relationships are unstable.

  • These can then induce a cycle of risky behaviour which leads to poverty in the future.

  • These factors can be caused by factors other than poverty: infidelity, family conflict and neglect of children, peer pressure, need for self esteem, ignorance of parental responsibilities.

Families and Children urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

There is not an immutable causal relationship between income poverty or household structure, and well-being.

Institutional Analysis - Positives urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • A very wide range of social sector and other programmes operated by government and NGOs.

  • A generally favourable public perception of these programmes.

  • Total social spending has been little impacted by the economic recession and the country’s large debt burden.

  • A large number of hard working and dedicated professionals (govt., NGOs and voluntary).

  • An increased perception that buy-in by potential beneficiaries & their participation throughout the entire project cycle is crucial to success.

  • A police force actively involved in community policing and outreach activities.

Institutional Analysis – urban & rural, female & male headed HHsNegatives

  • Lack of resources leading to understaffing and inadequate admin., O & M which then adversely affects the services provided.

  • Difficulties in providing trained and committed staff to rural areas – just where they are needed most.

  • Inadequate management procedures to deal with staff concerns or those of the public.

  • Low coverage of most social and income generation programmes.

  • Insufficient inter-agency co-ordination programmes: duplication, poor implementation.

  • Not enough sharing of programme strengths and weaknesses.

  • Political interference in the identification of beneficiaries for government programmes and land allocations..

  • Social spending is likely to come under increasing pressure as debt repayments increase, especially if government revenues decrease.

The Economic Causes of Poverty in Belize urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

The Non-economic Causes of Poverty in Belize urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

Recent Events urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • CPA 2009 was finalized in August 2010.

  • CPA 2009 was shared with the NHDAC for approval by mid-September 2010.

  • CDB officially hand over the CPA to Cabinet on October 5, 2010.

  • CPA to placed on SIB and GoB websites. Hard copies will be disseminated with all stakeholders.

  • User-friendly version (reduced) in English and Spanish have just been completed. Hard copies will be printed.

The Way Forward urban & rural, female & male headed HHs

  • Gov’t finances are likely to be constrained in the short & medium terms. This puts a premium on making the best use of the funds available by improving the management and effectiveness of current government operations.

  • The CPA team believes that there is substantial scope to improve the well-being of its pop. over the coming years as well as reducing the likelihood of poverty occurring in the future.

  • The CPA team has made numerous recommendations which address all the issues discussed in the report.

  • The NPESAP 2009-2013 to be revised based on new CPA findings.

  • Continue implementation of the NPESAP.

Thank you for your attention
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION urban & rural, female & male headed HHs