Chronic poverty in urban ghettos in Jamaica
Every year, since 1989, the Government of Jamaica estimates the levels of poverty using the annual surveys of living conditions. On the macro, poverty levels are on the decline. In 1989, the percentage of persons in poverty was 30.5 per cent. In 2001, the figure was 16.8 per cent. On the national level, the Government has almost achieved the Millennium goals of halving by 2015, the number of persons in poverty. On the micro level, there are some parishes which report persistent high levels of poverty, above the national average. This paper explores further the levels of poverty in specific years in certain urban ghettos known as “garrison communities”. These communities are so named because they are protected by their political affiliations. Using data from the surveys of living conditions, reports, and the police statistics on crime, drugs and violence, this paper examines chronic poverty in these urban ghettos. It is argued that even if poverty is reduced at the macro levels, structural poverty has remained the same in these communities. The paper seeks to show that chronic poverty will never be reduced in these communities because their present social and economic framework serves several political ends. Unless, there is the sustained political will and momentum to dismantle these “garrison communities’, their inhabitants are doomed to a life of social exclusion, marginalization and chronic public and private poverty.....