Tue | Aug 22, 2017

UN report: About 200,000 Jamaicans deprived of food

Published:Tuesday | December 29, 2015 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

After more than two decades of implementing a range of anti-poverty measures, Jamaica is still faced with almost one in every 10 citizens being undernourished.

This has been confirmed by a United Nations report, which says the figure of approximately 200,000 Jamaicans living with food deprivation has been constant over the years.

The report, issued by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, says Jamaica, Dominica, Bahamas, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago all have undernourishment levels of up to 10 per cent of their population.

Smaller Percentage of population

It says while the total number of undernourished people in Jamaica has not changed much, the percentage in relation to the population size has dipped.

"There has been a 22 per cent decrease in the percentage of undernourished in the population, from the base period of 1990. However, it is of note that recent trends show a slight increase from the 2005 level of 7 per cent undernourished", read the report.

Researcher and anthropologist, Dr Herbert Gayle, told The Gleaner that the significance of the latest data cannot be fully appreciated until its known who make up the 200,000.

However, Gayle says he expects that children especially boys, and the rural and urban issues will feature significantly in the undernourished profile.

The report did not provide a breakdown, and at press time, efforts to get data from the authorities were unsuccessful.

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Colin Bullock, said his agency would be looking into the report.

Meanwhile, income inequality was cited along with food access, poverty and unemployment as factors that contribute to the undernourishment.

Jamaica, Haiti and Suriname have been singled out as countries with extreme income inequality.

Generally, the food report said the number of undernourished persons in the Caribbean declined from 8.1 million in 1990-92, to 7.5 million in 2014-16.