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Poverty and Governance

The Caribbean’s small island economies face formidable challenges in dealing with globalisation, particularly in relation to economic dependency and vulnerabilities. Race, income and gender hierarchies, that persist from the era of colonialism, have left a legacy of exclusion of the poor. Despite general improvements in living standards, poverty rates still average 30 percent of the Caribbean population. Social and human development indicators show that though the region is improving, there is still much work to be done.

With the vision of enhancing UNDP's work in key sectors, in 2020, the Multi-Country Office (MCO) established the Poverty and Governance cluster, which seeks to build the capacity of islands in the region to integrate a human rights-based approach into national development plans and policies and to strengthen countries' capacities to achieve the SDGs. The Cluster carries a dual function - the first is focused on developing and implementing programmes in key strategic areas, namely expanding and enhancing national social protection systems, strengthening citizen security, enhancing universal access to justice, supporting the development of the blue economy and expanding the MCO offer on support to SDG mainstreaming through policy and planning support. The team also leads the work related to the wider SDGs and the 2030 agenda such as RIAs, MAPS and VNRs.

The second function is to provide monitoring, evaluation and gender mainstreaming support across the wider MCO portfolio. This includes responsibility for quarterly/annual project reporting, Quality Assurance, ROAR reporting, coordinating data sharing with the Resident Coordinators Office as well as project design, planning and implementation support.

This is the smallest and newest cluster with the potential to grow in areas related to multidimensional poverty, good governance and access to justice. In relation to this, the MCO has stirred the elaboration of the report on Caribbean Justice: A Needs Assessment of the Judicial System in Nine Countries in 2019.

During the COVID-19 Response, this cluster led the development of the Eastern Caribbean Human and Economic Impact Assessments and SURGE support for policy implementation; as well as supported gender-responsive assessments of the COVID-19 social protection responses implemented by governments for vulnerable groups in Saint Lucia and Barbados as part of the Joint Programme – developing recommendations and implementation strategies.

The Cluster will continue its work on poverty reduction, strengthening social capacities and influencing, monitoring and evaluating all projects in the MCO to ensure they are aligned with poverty reduction and the prevention of inequalities.

The below projects are being implemented by the Poverty and Governance Cluster: