The Dominican Republic may be famous as a holiday destination, but this beautiful country, which shares an island with Haiti, is a permanent home to poverty, inequality and discrimination.
The two countries share an island and are closely tied economically, socially, politically, environmentally and historically, and so a binational approach to work in both countries is imperative.
On the face of it, the Dominican Republic is a country doing very well – its economy is growing, and it is classed as a middle-income country. But it lacks a fair or effective tax system, power is held by a wealthy minority and there is no proper system in place to address corruption. A failure to address poverty issues means there are high levels of inequality – according to the World Bank, 40% of the population live below the poverty line.
There are high levels of discrimination based on race, gender and nationality. For centuries, poor Dominicans, poor Haitian migrants and their descendants have migrated to the Dominican Republic, hoping that this relatively richer country will provide them with better economic opportunities. Despite the benefits they bring to the country’s economy, this has long been a source of conflict and tension between the neighbouring countries.
Haitian migrants and their descendants are poorly treated, and suffer widespread racism and discrimination. Discrimination on the grounds of colour, gender and nationality has perpetuated inequalities including access to identity documents, land, education and employment.
Christian Aid is working to empower citizens to hold their state accountable to change systems and structures and create a fairer, more transparent society through reduced human rights abuses, stronger institutions and reducing the inequality of vulnerable people.
Climate and environment
The Dominican Republic is vulnerable to natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes. Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of severe weather events in the region, so there is an increasing need to help communities to increase their resilience to events such as flooding and droughts. The government has participated in international negotiations on climate change but the response seems less dynamic on the ground.
The state of the environment increases the vulnerability of marginalised people who depend on natural resources and agriculture, in turn making them more vulnerable to economic shocks or political instability. The regular threat of hurricanes leaves communities and livelihoods highly vulnerable.
Christian Aid is supporting communities to build their resilience to future disasters and to play a more participatory role in improving their livelihoods.