Growth in Honduras is due to remittances and strong export performance. Nevertheless, over 59% remain below the poverty line and 36.2% in extreme poverty. Bank and government work together to reduce vulnerabilities and create opportunities for all.
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A desolate, poorly-lit street and an overturned dumpster. Open bags of trash and garbage scattered on the sidewalk. Would you walk alone there? Your sixth sense may advise against it.However, it is no... Show More +t only instinct that keeps us from walking down that road. Several years ago, a whole theory was developed which reinforced the idea that having clean, ordered streets and well-lit, maintained public spaces can discourage criminals and gangs.Urban neighborhoods of Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 70% of the region’s poor. There, where the poorest people live, public spaces often lack basic infrastructure, a water supply and garbage collection services.The region also has some of the highest rates of crime and violence in the world, with an average of 29 homicides for every 100,000 people (as compared with a global average of seven for every 100,000). Additionally, the lack of formal environments tends to generate conditions conducive to crime and violence.“A disorderly space with garbage gives the impression that people are not taking care of that place,” explains John Morton, World Bank environmental expert. Therefore, if a neighborhood tolerates disorder, whether that means throwing trash on the ground or dirty streets, it could – hypothetically – produce an environment more conducive to crime. For criminals, this type of disorder suggests that crimes will not be reported or controlled, in other words, that no one is in charge. “It is a symptom and also part of the cause; the neighborhood seems more defenseless,” says Morton.A recent experience in Kingston, Jamaica is proof of that.In Central Village, a neighborhood with high crime and unemployment rates, streets were cleaned to recover public spaces. “Garbage was constantly present in the community. This sent a signal that no one cared about the place; it was an invitation for vandalism,” says Mona Sue-Ho, a social development expert at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), which implemented the project with World Bank support.Streets were paved and repaired, public spaces were cleaned and dumpsters were installed. Additionally, a garbage collection service was established.The project also helped mobilize the community, which led residents to propose new initiatives. One of them was the environmental guards, who are responsible for keeping the area clean and encouraging neighbors to recycle and to properly dispose waste. “It makes me feel good to have clean streets,” says Tamara Reed, a neighborhood resident.Additionally, several national initiatives to prevent violence were launched. Neighborhoods such as Central Village also implemented specific activities such as skills-development and family support programs, among others, which address a variety of risk factors that contribute to crime and violence.Safer neighborsRemoving garbage from the streets is part of a broader strategy known as “crime prevention through environmental design,” a Canadian methodology that seeks to reduce opportunities to commit crimes, as well as to minimize the fear of the community through the design of safer cities. The strategy has to do with the neighbors’ desire to recover and claim ownership of public spaces. It focuses on improving urban spaces rather than employing hard-handed tactics.“To feel safer in our cities, we need to recover something we’ve lost -- human contact,” says Chilean architect Macarena Rau Vargas, president and founder of the Corporation for the Prevention of Crime through Environmental Design during her latest TEDX talk in Argentina. “We need to connect with the neighbors to feel safe,” she said.Waste management plays a key role in maintaining public spaces through improvements in garbage collection, street cleaning, optimization of dumpsters and programs that encourage garbage reduction.Part of the solution“Cleaning is not going to fix everything, but it definitely helps,” says Morton. Joan Serra Hoffman, a social development and citizen security expert at the World Bank, agrees: “Maintaining public spaces can increase informal controls, but it is just one aspect of all that municipalities can do to reduce crime and violence.”“Physical disorder is just one symptom of many other deficiencies. Those same neighborhoods often have no secondary school nearby where young people can study, nor is there access to basic services,” she says. “There is no magic bullet, but there is empirical evidence in the region that community driven strategies targeting youth and at-risk families can address factors contributing to crime,” she says.Accordingly, programs with a comprehensive focus are crucial for reducing crime. Some initiatives involve young people, not only in solid waste management in their community but also as in activities that serve as alternatives to crime and violence.One of these is Paraguay’s Cateurá Orchestra. “This cello is made from an oil can, boards and a spoon for making gnocchi,” says Bebi, a member of this Paraguayan group, which makes musical instruments for vulnerable children and young people from objects found in the Cateurá Dump, on the outskirts of Asunción.Despite their limited resources, the orchestra has now travelled to more than 25 countries and was the opening act of the Metallica rock group. In the words of orchestra conductor Favio Chávez: “The world gives us garbage; we give music in return.” Show Less -
Wages in Countries without Commodity Booms Stagnated or FellWASHINGTON, June 3rd, 2015 – The commodity boom of the last decade helped raise wages for the less well off in Latin America and the Caribbe... Show More +an, but did not necessarily generate better job opportunities. What’s more, wages in those countries in the region that are not commodity exporters grew far less or actually decreased.Those are among key findings of a new World Bank report, Working to End Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean: Workers, Jobs, and Wages, released today at the Council of the Americas. The report, part of the Poverty and Labor Brief series, also provides the latest poverty and income inequality numbers for the region using comparable household and labor force surveys.The report finds that, after more than a decade of steady decline, 2013 was the third year in a row with inequality stagnating. As GDP per capita slows, so has the pace of poverty reduction, compared to the first decade of the 21st century.“In recent years, the momentum has waned for social gains in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Louise Cord, Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice. “With the commodity boom fading, redoubling regional efforts to promote more inclusive growth and to reduce poverty is critical. This report highlights the need to ease the constraints that the poor face in labor market participation and to continue improving their access to high-quality education and to higher-productivity sectors.”The report finds that poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, defined as living on less than US$4 a day, decreased from 25.3 percent in 2012 to 24.3 percent in 2013, and extreme poverty ($2.50 a day) fell from 12.2 to 11.5 percent. Progress in poverty reduction, even if at a slower pace, was not uniform, with Central America and Mexico performing below other sub regions. In fact, poverty reduction in Mexico and Central America has been less than half the average reduction seen in the entire region for the past decade.Labor market earnings have been the most important drivers of poverty reduction in Latin America. Since the early 2000s, the wages of the unskilled -- those most likely to be poor and whose households account for half of the region’s poor -- grew significantly across most of the region and faster than for other groups, playing a big role in the region’s poverty reduction. On average, unskilled workers experienced annual increases in their labor income of over four percent, while low-skilled (workers who completed primary school but not secondary), and skilled workers registered an increase of two percent.On the other hand, labor market participation for the unskilled and the least well off – the bottom 40 percent -- was not a driving force behind poverty reduction. In fact, despite increases in education, labor force participation —being employed or actively looking for work—did not increase, except for working-age women, while it fell for unskilled men in the region. Overall, labor force participation for working aged men and women in the bottom 40 percent fell by 1.6 percent between 2003 and 2013, while rising by 4.4 percent for workers in the top 60 percent.“The reasons behind this disparities in entering the job market can be many, anything from an increase in female headed-households to an increase in transfers that make workers more willing to wait for better paid jobs,” said Cord. “But this could also mean that finding a job is becoming harder for unskilled men.”The report finds that improvements in job quality of unskilled workers were relatively small. Shifts of unskilled workers to more productive sectors or better quality jobs were relatively minor across the region. Rather it has been external factors, namely the global commodity boom, which were associated with wage increases in the region. Commodity exporting countries of South America saw real wage gains in all skill levels and sectors —not just trade—; while countries without commodity booms saw wages actually stagnate or fall for all sectors and skills.Throughout the region, governments have helped raise labor income and improve labor market outcomes by enacting different programs and policies, including the provision of day care and early education to increase female labor force participation, training programs, formality incentives, and minimum-wage legislation.The report found that, if set correctly, the minimum wage can operate as a strong signal for higher wages even in the informal sector, where many of the poor work. However, setting it too low or too high can weaken its effect on both formal and informal sectors. Show Less -