IDB financing surveys for improved crime data

-Guyana among six Caribbean countries to benefit

Guyana is among six Caribbean countries that will benefit from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) US$1.1 million donation to boost their capacity to gather and process crime statistics.

In a press release, the IDB said the sum will be given to Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname to conduct the victimization surveys in order to improve the scope and depth of their crime statistics, with the aim of securing better information to implement evidence-based policies that combat violence.

The programme will also determine where the data gaps are and, if needed, conduct additional surveys to fill these gaps. The announcement was made as top officials from the ministries of security and health met for a two-day seminar in Washington to discuss using data to design, implement and evaluate public policies on crime prevention, the statement said.

Violence has become a key obstacle to human and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean and is cited by citizens in surveys as a top concern for their wellbeing, surpassing employment, healthcare and other issues, the IDB said.

In recent years, the bank has provided over $90 million to support citizen security programmes in the Caribbean, but countries lacked the data to design programmes whose effectiveness can be measured and corrective steps taken if necessary.

“The availability of survey data, and of data that is harmonised among countries, is limited and difficult to obtain,” Nathalie Alvarado, who coordinates the IDB’s citizen security programmes, was quoted as saying. “Victimisation surveys and data from hospitals, for instance, can complement traditional datasets from the police. This will give us a much better picture of the causes of violence and its impacts, including intra-familial violence.”

According to the release, the initiative will provide data that allows policy-makers to take into account gender and age issues in their programmes to prevent violence.

“While crime in general is a major challenge for the Caribbean region, women and youths have been disproportionately impacted and will be a central focus of this project,” said Gerard Johnson, the manager of the Caribbean Department of the IDB. Johnson also said many women and youths are reluctant to denounce abuses, making it difficult for policy-makers to enact effective programmes based on hard data.

In addition, the programme will provide funding so that two Caribbean countries can join the IDB’s Regional System of Standardized Citizen Security Indicators, which aims to harmonise data among 18 countries and cities in Latin America.

Citizen security is a development priority in Latin America and the Caribbean and as a result the IDB has provided more than $500 million for Latin America and the Caribbean in programmes that take into account the variety, complexity and variability of insecurity that affects regions, countries and cities, focusing on prevention and institutional strengthening.

Also, through its Caribbean Department, the IDB provided over $2 billion in loans and technical assistance during 2012 to support the region’s efforts to promote sustainable energy, infrastructure, governance, fiscal reform, and social sector reforms in areas such as education, health, and housing.

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