The Dominican Republic is a country with high levels of inequality. Despite the fact that over the past forty years it has experienced sustained growth far above the regional average, this high level of economic growth has produced very little improvement for the most disadvantaged members of society.
The levels of investment in social expenditure are among the lowest in Latin America and it is third from bottom of the countries in the region as far as taking advantage of economic growth to improve health and society is concerned, with around 50% of the population still living under the shadow of poverty. This situation is due to the limited quality of democracy. The country has made great strides in recent decades, guaranteeing electoral and institutional procedures which are appropriate in their form. In spite of this, people’s awareness of their rights is weak and cronyism converts the democratic dialogue into an exchange of favours.
Moreover, the Dominican Republic is highly exposed to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, droughts and floods. However, the policies required to prevent these or mitigate their impact are very limited. Another issue to take into account is the significant number of Haitian migrants in the country whose rights, according to various sources, are violated.
Oxfam in the country
Oxfam works with and alongside local and national agencies, including social organisations, NGOs, public networks and institutions, through complementary relationships and mutual respect. Our objectives in the country are:
- the promotion of a public institutional structure favourable to the most excluded groups, by creating a stronger social movement with capacity to demand and monitor the fair and equitable distribution of public resources, guaranteeing higher quality and greater access to social services;
- the empowerment of Dominican women and the defence of their rights, by supporting women’s movements and feminist organisations that are fighting against the discrimination which arises out of power structures;
- the contribution towards giving men and women in the rural areas along the border the opportunity to exercise their right to secure and sustainable livelihoods, in order to reduce their poverty levels; and
- the strengthening of the right of the most vulnerable men and women in the country to be better prepared to cope with crisis situations and to receive high-quality humanitarian aid.
Oxfam would like to see a country in which the people know their rights and are in a position to exercise them, to organise, participate and demand justice, so influencing the building of a stable State based on the rule of law and a government which will secure high-quality social public policies. We carry out programmes focused on:
- Women’s rights: we are strengthening the exercising of the full citizenship of women to promote human, social and economic development, with a focus on gender and a culture of equality and fairness.
- Citizenship and governance: we are promoting the public participation of the most excluded social groups, giving them the capacity to demand and monitor the fair and equitable distribution of public resources, guaranteeing greater equality and access to basic social services.
- Livelihoods: we are working with small rural producers in the border region to help them improve their standard of living and to reduce their poverty levels, through the protection and provision of sustainable livelihoods.
- Humanitarian crisis action: we are preserving the right of the most vulnerable men and women to be prepared to cope with crisis situations and to receive high-quality humanitarian aid.