MICS Advancing equity in the Eastern Caribbean
MICS Advancing equity in the Eastern CaribbeanBRIDGETOWN: The Small Island Developing States in the Eastern Caribbean are mostly Middle Income Countries (MICs) which are well on the way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but have the MDGs reached everyone, boy and girl?
In a region with limited up-to-date disaggregated social data, it is estimated that 500,000 children in these countries are being deprived of protection, education, or health, but the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) – an internationally-recognised tool for collecting data on the situation of children and women - could answer some of the equity questions.
The equity approach has strengthened the development perspective which the UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area is using in supporting governments and other partners in the eight independent states and four British Overseas Territories in the Eastern Caribbean Multi-Country programme.
Three of the 12 islands – Barbados, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago – are implementing MICS in 2011-2012. Trinidad and Tobago has had three previous rounds of MICS, but its smaller neighbours in the Eastern Caribbean are implementing MICS for the first time.
It may take another four months before the results are produced in the three islands, but already government officials are looking forward to using the date to inform their policies targeting women and children, especially the most vulnerable.
“The outcome will be used to improve the efficacy of development programmes and policies in response to vulnerabilities, “said Mr. Augustus Cadette, (MICS Focal Point/Research officer, Ministry of Social Transformation) in St Lucia.
The field teams in St. Lucia have already submitted all completed questionnaires, and the two-month phase of field work was completed on as planned.
Collecting data about households, women and children may seem easy, but those who go in the field for months, knock on hundreds of doors, walk kilometres up and down the hills, and conduct numerous interviews, will tell you it takes a lot of effort. Field work also has its challenges. One of the field staff states, “It is challenging when we introduce ourselves, explain the purpose of the survey, emphasize the confidentiality of information, but the respondents still do not want to participate. Interestingly the households with higher education and higher income seem to refuse more often, are not interested, or have no time to participate”. Despite these challenges, St. Lucia completed the survey with a 95 per cent response rate.
The spotlight is now on Barbados where field data collection is on-going.
Being small islands with a distance of less than two hours’ drive from the north to the south, St. Lucia and Barbados did not consider the urban-rural diversity important to include as done in other countries. But understanding now that deprivations could exist even in a rural settlement next to the capital city, MICS has incorporated for the first time the urban and rural domains in the survey design in both countries.
MICS is an important tool for the small islands in the Eastern Caribbean. The survey will not only establish the foundation for future strategic involvement of UNICEF in the MICs but also indicate the children whom the MDGs are yet to reach.