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World leaders have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including the overarching goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015. UNDP's network links and coordinates global and national efforts to reach these Goals.
According to the review, the Country has achieved the MDG goal of universal primary education and is on track for ensuring environmental sustainability and eradicating extreme hunger.
The Human Development Index (HDI) showed a slight increase to 0.727 in 2011, which gives the country a rank of 79 out of 187 countries with comparable data. The HDI of Latin America and the Caribbean as a region increased from 0.582 in 1980 to 0.731 today, placing Jamaica below the regional average. Click here for the Human Development indicators for Jamaica.
In poverty reduction, in primary education enrollment and in eliminating gender disparities in education, achievements have been significant. However, progress in relation to improving maternal health and urban living conditions, as well as in reducing infant mortality has been unsatisfactory thus far.
Although classified as an upper middle income country, Jamaica is currently one of the most highly indebted countries in the world, and has been receiving support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since February 2010. The effects of the global economic crisis and sharply higher food and fuel prices exacerbated already-potent issues such as sluggish national economic growth, persistent trade and fiscal deficits, high unemployment and underemployment, an inefficient tax system and an overstaffed civil service. Stimulating economic growth and financial sustainability are therefore critical development imperatives. Continuing high rates of crime, crisis of public confidence and the recent civil unrest in May 2010, which led to a two month, limited state of emergency, have emphasized the need for governance reforms as an improved framework for addressing key developmental challenges. The Jamaica National Development Plan, Vision 2030, clearly states the achievement of a safe, cohesive and just society as being among the key goals.
Challenge of poverty reduction and achievement of MDGs:
In 2009, 22.5% of Jamaicans lived below the poverty line in rural areas. The limited national capacity in fiscal management and debt management is a continuous critical challenge. Jamaica has the fourth largest debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio in the world, and the debt servicing comprised over 56% of the 2009-10 budget. The government has successfully implemented a debt exchange programme in 2010. However the limited fiscal space in the national budget affects all public services particularly impacting on the poor and vulnerable.
Challenge of deepening Democracy and enhancing citizen security: Faced by a spiraling murder rate which peaked at 1680 in 2009, the government has focused its efforts on law enforcement reform. However, the continuing high number of reported extra judicial killings of civilians and the low prosecution rate demonstrate the need to prioritize the protection of citizens' rights. There is no oversight institution for human rights, as pointed out in the recent Universal Periodic Review of Jamaica by the UN Human Rights Council in 2010. While justice reform initiatives are underway, there are still significant delays due to a backlog at all levels of the justice system. Corruption continues to be a significant problem for the public sector, with low levels of public trust and a crisis of confidence in state institutions. There is recognition of the need for governance reform de-linking crime and politics at the national, local and community level with increased participation by civil society in policy making. A major public sector transformation reform and local governance reform are underway to improve efficiency and effectiveness of public services.
Challenge of environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, including disaster management: Land degradation and the associated reduction of ecosystem functions and services continue to affect Jamaica’s environmental sustainability. An integrated and cross-sectoral approach to sustainable land management, management of parks and protected areas, and watershed and coastal area management, including policy reform, is required to address this. The integration of climate change adaptation is an urgent need. There is a strong demand and need to ensure policy coherence across institutions and ministries to achieve the targets outlined in the National Energy Policy, which includes a reduction in the use of petroleum to 67% and increase in renewable energy from 5% in 2008 to 12.5% by 2015. Local capacity in disaster management continues to require improvement. In 2010, the cost of damage from a single event was estimated at $287.3 million (approximately 1.9 % of GDP).
MDG1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger;
Jamaica has reduced by two- thirds the number of people living below the poverty line and the number of people who suffer from hunger. According to the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2009, the population living in poverty decreased from 28.4% in 1990 to 9.9 % in 2007; however it subsequently increased in recent years, from 12.3 % in 2008 to 16.5 % in 2009. Decline in the rate of poverty has been slowest in the Rural Areas, which in 2009 had the highest prevalence of poverty of 22.5 %, compared to 12.8 % in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and 10.2 % in Other Towns . Slightly more males than females are in poverty. The country has also reduced by three- quarters the proportion of under- weight children under 5 years. Jamaica is ranked as an upper middle-income country and is classified as having achieved this MDG.
MDG2: Achieve Universal Primary Education; Jamaica has already achieved this MDG as the net primary school enrollment rate has been raised over 90% and the gross enrollment, almost 100%. Nonetheless the quality of access, especially among the poor and in the rural areas, and the quality of primary-level teachers, remain issues of concern.
MDG3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women;
The findings on this MDG show Jamaica lagging in meeting the relevant objectives. This is related to the fact that there exists gender disparity starting at grade 6 in primary school and the completion rate at the secondary level shows boys as being in the majority of drop outs. Males also continue to be under-represented at tertiary level by a 2:1 ratio. With the empowerment of women, there still is a low representation of women in Parliament (13%) and in other areas of decision making.
MDG4: Reduce Child Mortality;
The country is far behind with regard to this MDG as the under-five mortality rate has only been reduced by 14% up to 2005 and the infant mortality rate reduced by almost one-third.
MDG5: Improve Maternal Health;
Jamaica's progress with this MDG varies; it is said to be far behind in reducing the maternal mortality rate by three -quarters between 1990 and 2015. There hyas only been a 20 % reduction over the past 14 years. Universal access to reproductive health is on target.
MDG6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Major Diseases;
The country is reported as being on track in its progress toward this MDG. It has shown it's 1st decline in AIDS deaths in 2005 and in AIDS cases in 2006. Access to retroviral drugs jumped from under 5% in 2000 to 60% in 2008.
Local malaria outbreaks since 2006 have been swiftly contained with no reported deaths, while the incidence/deaths of TB are declining.
MDG7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability;
Jamaica's progress in achieving this MDG varies. The Country is reported to be lagging in integrating principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and in reversing the losses of environmental resources. However, the 92% of population having access to safe drinking water and the 98.9% access to basic sanitation, show the country being on track in halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.
MDG8: A Global Partnership for Development;
Over the years, Official Development Assistance (ODA) from multilateral and bilateral sources, has facilitated the achievement of the government’s goals of macro-economic stability, growth and poverty reduction. This global partnership has reduced the impact of endogenous and exogenous shocks which could have caused major economic and social dislocation. However, the volume of ODA has been declining recently. Jamaica had seen reduced access to some grant programmes and ODA funding, which has shifted focus from preferential arrangements to trading relationships. ODA to Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) has decreased since 1990, from US$70.62m to US$27.87m. The debt burden is a serious challenge for Jamaica with the value of exports representing only a portion of the debt service costs. Overall, approximately three-quarters of the value of exports to developed countries have preferential access such that they are permitted duty free entry. Debt servicing as a percentage of exports or goods and services and net income rose from 10.47% n 2000 to 12.43% in 2007. On the other hand, progress in widening access to information and communication technology has been outstanding. Cellular subscribers per 100 population has increased from 14.3/100 in 2000 to 100.9/100 in 2008. Internet users have also jumped from 3.08/100 in 2000 to 55.3/100 in 2008.
Millennium Development Reports (MDGs) on Jamaica