Belize has a small, essentially private enterprise economy that is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction recently assuming greater importance.
The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reining in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure. The tourist and construction sectors strengthened in early 1999, leading to a preliminary estimate of revived growth at 4%. Infrastructure continues to be a major challenge for the economic development of Belize. Belize has the most expensive electricity in the region. The trade deficit has been growing over the years, mostly as a result of low international export prices for sugar and bananas. The average annual growth is expected to grow only at around 4% and majority of this growth is supported by tourism sector and people looking to retire. Most of the economic indicators are rather weak and low, while the per capita income stands at $3,100. Almost 33.5% of the total population lives under the poverty line.
Education in Belize is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14 years for primary education. In 2001, 93.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school. The Education Act subjects parents to a fine of up to US$100 if their children of compulsory school age fail to attend school regularly. Even so, there is large amount of school dropouts and kids who are not receiving any education due to financial constraints. Primary education is free, but related expenses, such as uniforms, books and annual school fees are a financial strain on poor families. Secondary schools and apprenticeship and vocational programs can only accommodate half of the children who complete primary school. As such, there is a shortage of skilled labor in Belize, which is a major contributor to the lack of economic growth.
The Water Crisis
Every morning, eyes slowly open to another day without hope. Children are sick and weak. There is a constant struggle to find the most basic of human needs. From the depths of each soul, a cry of despair born from generations of poverty wells up and overflows in a slow flood of tears. It is a worldwide crisis, and it stems from a lack of safe water, proper sanitation and hope found only through the message of the true “Living Water.” The crisis is real. It steals the lives of 5,500 people each day- more than war, natural disasters, AIDS or even hunger. Yet, it rarely makes the headlines in the newspaper, nor does it circulate in water cooler conversations in the workplace. It is a silent killer – one that quietly preys on the world’s most marginalized and forgotten people.
In order to assist in this crisis, One Desk Foundation has partnered with Water Missions International – Belize, a nonprofit (501 (c) (3)), Christian engineering organization serving the water and sanitation needs of people in remote areas of Belize; using low-maintenance, sustainable technologies for drinking water treatment and distribution, wastewater management, and storm water control. We have raised enough funds that enabled us to donate and build one water unit for a community in Belize.