Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fast Facts: Dominican Republic

by Aly Lewis
Yes, today is Wednesday, but it is not going to be a Oaxaca Wednesday. Today I would like to highlight our program in the Dominican Republic. Plant With Purpose has been working in the DR for over 25 years and it is one of our most developed and expansive programs. 2,500 Dominican farmers in 51 communities have joined with Plant With Purpose to plant over 3.2 million--that's right, million--trees, receive over 2,000 loans, and start almost 300 Bible studies. With Plant With Purpose's encouragement, families are restoring their land, starting new businesses, and transforming their lives. Here are some fast facts about the DR and the problems Plant With Purpose seeks to address:
Dominican Republic Fast Facts:

Location: Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti

Population: 9,650,054

Total area: 48,320 sq km (more than twice the size of New Hampshire)

Population below poverty line: 42.2%

Religion: The Dominican Republic is 95.2% Christian, including 88.6% Roman Catholic and 4.2% Protestant.

Pollution: Bajos de Haina, 12 miles (19 km) west of Santo Domingo, was included on the Blacksmith Institute's list of the world's 10 most polluted places, due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling center closed in 1999.

The rural sector in the Dominican Republic is affected by high unemployment and poverty rates. Lack of economic opportunities is one of the many causes of poverty and migration to the cities. Adding to social and economic difficulties is environmental devastation, especially deforestation. Subsistence farmers rely heavily on revenues from cutting forest trees, but as mature trees run out, the farmers’ source of living also diminishes. They attempt to raise crops on the cleared land, but soil fertility has been compromised, and the land does not produce for long. As farmers find it increasingly difficult to generate revenues from the forests and the farms, they move to densely populated shantytowns on the outskirts of cities.

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