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IDB to support improved crime data for Caribbean region

Six Caribbean countries will conduct victimization surveys in an effort 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 Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced today it will provide a $1.1 million donation to bolster the capacity of Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname to gather and process data on crime.

The program will also determine where the data gaps are and, if needed, conduct additional surveys to fill these gaps.

The announcement came as top officials from the ministries of security and health gathered for a two-day seminar in Washington to discuss using data to design, implement and evaluate public policies on crime prevention.

Violence has become a key obstacle to human and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and is cited by citizens in surveys as a top concern for their well-being, surpassing the jobs, healthcare and other issues.

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

“The availability of survey data, and of data that is harmonized among countries, is limited and difficult to obtain,” said Nathalie Alvarado, who coordinates the IDB’s citizen security programs. “Victimization 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.”

The initiative will provide data that allows policy-makers to take into account gender and age issues in their programs 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 said many women and youths are reluctant to denounce abuses, making it difficult for policy-makers to enact effective programs based on hard data.

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

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