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© UNICEF/DR/2003/Quiroga

Dominican Republic: Correcting the social deficit and protecting the rights of children and adolescents

More than half the population of the Dominican Republic – of approximately 9 million – lives in towns with over 10,000 inhabitants. Santo Domingo, the capital, is the largest city with some three million inhabitants. Forty per cent of the population is composed of children under 15.

In socio-cultural terms, the population is relatively homogenous, although economic inequities are strong. Over 30% live in conditions of poverty. Despite many years of high economic growth, the country has a very significant accumulated social deficit. Many of its social indicators are significantly below that of other countries with similar economic levels, particularly in the health area. In 2005, the country appeared in 95th place in the Human Development Index.

The Dominican Government and the State as a whole are making efforts for the country to overcome social and economic underdevelopment. The country has a good coverage of social services although great efforts are required to improve their quality. Two central elements of this effort are the strengthening of public institutions and civil society.

The Government has made a strong commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and in 2005, carried out an MDG Need Assessment and costing exercise with the support of the United Nations system and the Millennium Project. The evaluation concluded that the Dominican Republic could reach the goals but only by increasing social spending and carrying out a strong reorientation of national priorities.

The Dominican Republic may reach the development goals of the millennium only if it increases social spending and reorients its priorities.

Hurricanes constitute a high risk during the Caribbean hurricane season, which lasts from June to October, and in the past have caused substantial damage. In September 1998, Hurricane Georges had a devastating impact on the country, but annually, and even when it is not the hurricane season, flooding and landslides can occur due to rain with considerable loss of human life and property.

The Island of Hispaniola is located within the tectonic fault lines of the Caribbean. Although during the past 60 years, it has not experienced a strong earthquake, tremors are registered now and again and the possibility of a devastating earthquake is always present.

The Dominican Republic shares the island with Haiti, a country with which it has lived difficult historic moments, and whose recent political and economic situation has an impact on the country creating a series of problems related to Haitian migrants coming in search of a better future.

The Dominican State ratified the Convention on the Rights of  the Child in 1992 and has made great efforts to adapt its laws and legislation to this Convention and to develop and implement public policies in favour of children and youth.

In 2003 Law 136-03 or Code for the System for the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents was promulgated and come into effect in October 2004. It constitutes a national framework for the implementation of an integral protection policy for children.





Basic Data

47% of total Dominican population is between the ages of 0 and 17. (1)

Net Registration Rate in Primary School is 91.3% (2)

The population that starts and ends primary school is 63.5% of the total. (2)

Literacy rate of the population between 15 and 24 years of age is of 96%. (2)

For the year 2004 the Child Mortality Rate of children below the age of five was 32 per each 1000 born alive. (3)

Maternal Mortality Rate is 180 per each 100,000 born alive. (3)

92.9% of Dominican children population is vaccinated against measles. (4)

As of 2001, only 18.1% of total Dominican homes consumed iodized salt. (4)

Sources:  (1) Office of National Statistics (ONE  for its initials in Spanish); 2002 National Population and Housing Census/ (2) ONE; ENHOGAR Survey, 2005/ (3) UNICEF; State of World’s Children 2006/ (4); Centre of Demographic Studies (CESDEM for its initials in Spanish); MICS Survey, 2001.


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