About Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island unitary state situated at the southernmost base of the Caribbean Archipelago off the northern edge of South America, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. Trinidad covers 4,827 sq km and Tobago 301 sq km. They became independent from Britain in 1962 and became a republican parliamentary democracy in 1976. Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of steelpan, limbo, and the music styles of calypso, soca and chutney. The terrain of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. Trinidad and Tobago's climate is tropical. There are two seasons annually, the dry season for the first six months of the year, and the rainy season in the second half of the year.
Trinidad and Tobago ranked 59 on the 2010 Human Development Index15 (HDI). While it has moved down two places in the ranking since the last CCA, it remains in the High Human Development category. Average life expectancy continues to be nearly 70 years, and in 2008 adult literacy was measured at 98.7%. With respect to the new multidimensional measures of inequality and poverty, the country has a value of 0.621 on the 2010 Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index16 (IHDI). While this only decreases its HDI ranking by 2 points, it represents a loss of over 15% in human development. The country is 20 on the new Multidimensional Poverty Index17 (MPI) and ranks 48 on the new Gender Inequality Index18.
According to the World Bank 20% of the population was living below the national poverty line in 1992. The CIA World Factbook estimates that this had dropped to 17% by 2007. The last national survey of living conditions in 2005 recorded a level of 16.7%. While trends show a reduction in poverty indicators, there is also evidence of highly concentrated “pockets of poverty” which reveal continuing inequity. For example, in counties such as Nariva/Mayaro/Siparia and St. Andrew/St. David, the poverty rate reaches 30 and 40%, respectively.
In 2005, infant mortality stood at 16 deaths per 1000 live births. However there is evidence that this unexplainably increased to 31 per 1000 live births in 2008 and is now beginning to decline again. Similarly Under-5 mortality decreased between 1990 and 2001, before increasing again in 2008 to 35. With regard to HIV infection, recent surveillance data indicates a steady, though small increase in the recorded HIV prevalence rates from 1.2% at the end of 2006 to 1.5% in 2009.
The previous Common Country Assessment (CCA) in 2006 pointed out that “In spite of the economic boom, the country faces significant challenges including poverty, unequal distribution of incomes, unemployment and under-employment, low productivity and low personal income. Social and physical infrastructure need attention and service delivery is often inadequate. The country continues to be at risk from natural disasters and disaster preparedness and readiness measures need to be improved.” Some of these same challenges persist in 2011. There has been progress in some areas but this progress is often difficult to illustrate because supporting data is very limited.
Indeed one of the fundamental challenges expressed by researchers, policy and programme makers is the absence of accessible recent data and statistical analysis in all areas. This challenge of timely and relevant data is a widespread occurrence that has an adverse effect on government planning departments, civil society organizations, development partners and other stakeholders. The Ministry of Social Development published a 2005 Survey of Living Conditions Report on Trinidad & Tobago which was used to inform the UN’s 2006 CCA. In addition a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3 (MICS3), Monitoring the Situation of Women and Children, was published in 2006 with the support of UNICEF. More recent information is very limited.
The government has recognized the limited capacity to collect and disseminate data and the need to modernize data management information systems. To this end, there are plans to accelerate the modernization of the Central Statistics Office and to build and strengthen data reporting capacities at the Ministry of the Social Development in order to generate reliable social statistics. UNDP, in collaboration with UNICEF, assisted in the development and launch of the cTT/DevInfo database which was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and made available online in 2010.