ABOUT BELIZE

6 September 2017
 
ABOUT BELIZE
Belize lies on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala. It is the only country in Central America where English is the official language, although an English Creole and Spanish are more commonly spoken.
The area of the mainland and cayes is 8,867 square miles. The country's greatest length from north to south is 280 kilometres and its greatest width is 109 kilometres. The climate is subtropical, tempered by trade winds.
There are an estimated 380,010 persons living in Belize (Statistical Institute of Belize, September 2016). The country is a melting pot of many races and over the years the muliti-racial make-up has risen through the influx of many people of Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. The last population census (2010) shows that the main ethnic groups: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian maintains a large percent of Belize's population. Other ethnic groups: German and Dutch Mennonites, Chinese, Arabs and Africans accounts for a small percentage of the population. The ethnic groups, however, are heavily intermixed.
Although an upper middle-income country by World Bank classification, the heavily indebted, highly vulnerable to economic and disaster shocks, and weak national capacity of Belize disguises and denies significant rates of poverty, unemployment, chronic malnutrition, drug abuse and violence as well as other specific conditions that affect the overall health of the population. In 2013, the population living below the poverty line was calculated at 41% and the unemployment rate was 11.1% in September 2016.  In 2015, the World Bank estimated Belize GDP per capita at $4,907 USD. 
Belize achieved Self Government in 1964; its name was changed from British Honduras to Belize on 1st June, 1973, and later achieved full independence on September 21, 1981. It is now a member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Nonaligned Movement, the Organization of American States and the Association of Caribbean States. Belize is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and related institutions. The Government of Belize is operated on the principles of Parliamentary Democracy based on the Westminster System. The country is a sovereign, democratic state.
 
UNFPA WORK IN BELIZE 
The UNFPA Belize office was established in September 2003 and is linked to the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean (located in Jamaica) that serves 22 countries and overseas territories in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.
UNFPA’s assistance is guided by the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.  Its current sub-regional programme will contribute to regional and national priorities as reflected in the United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework 2017-2021, which was guided by the CARICOM Strategic Plan, the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda. UNFPA in Belize has been working in partnership with the Government, other UN agencies and civil society entities to advance its mission and improve the lives of people in Belize
Priority Areas of Interventions
UNFPA’s work in the world, including Belize, is concentrated around three main areas:
ENSURING EVERY PREGNANCY IS WANTED
Few things have a greater impact on the life of a woman than the number and spacing of her children. Therefore, UNFPA Belize has been working to ensure that there is increased availability of integrated sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning services, providing the opportunities for all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so. 
 
SUPPORTING MATERNAL HEALTH 
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of reducing maternal death and disability is finding ways to reach all women, even those in the poorest, most remote areas, or in times of natural or man-made disasters. UNFPA has been working with the Ministry of Health to improve maternal health services in public health facilities across Belize through policy dialogue, capacity development, services provision and knowledge management. 
 HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE FULFIL THEIR POTENTIAL
Approximately 32% of Belize’s population is between the ages of 10-24 years old. Their reproductive choices will shape future demographic trends. UNFPA work with its partners and members of its Youth Advisory Group (YAG) in Belize to advocate for the rights of young people, including the right to accurate information and services related to sexuality and reproductive health. Empowered with knowledge and skills to protect themselves and make informed decision, young people can realize their full potential and contribute and economic and social transformation. 
 
Who are the Beneficiaries?
Women, adolescent and youth are the key beneficiaries of UNFPA’s work. The organization prioritizes the most vulnerable and marginalized, particularly adolescent girls and also indigenous people, ethnic minorities, migrants, sex workers, persons living with HIV, and persons with disabilities. UNFPA works to improve their health and ability to participate in decision-making processes on issues that affect their lives, whether those decisions are made at the individual, familial, community, or national levels. 
 
HIGHLIGHTS OF MAJOR INTERVENTIONS 
UNFPA has supported and facilitated review of national policies such as the SRH Policy to assist in the identification of gaps and challenges to improve the overall SRH response in country and the legal review of legal barriers to adolescent access to SRH services which served to inform the development of model legislation and institutional policies to ensure increase access to reproductive services for this population. 
 
UNFPA also supported the capacity building of health professionals in the provision of SRH services to adolescents with a right based approach, family planning, adequate pregnancy spacing with emphasis on contraception services and supplies, contraceptive technology and logistics management for reproductive health supplies. 
 
Facilitated the procurement of contraceptives and other reproductive health equipment and tools, including both male and female condoms. 
 
Increased access to SRH information and services through the establishment of youth friendly spaces, mass media campaigns, community based and social media intervention institutional based programmes and in-school programmes.
 
Supported capacity building of Faculty and the establishment of a 3-credit course in the area of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) at the national university. 
 
Supported the quality improvement initiative in the area of maternal and neonatal care, through the development of protocols, guidelines, capacity building, and establishment of regional training centres.
 
Conducted several assessments of the provision of SRH information and services to key population such as adolescent and youth, female sex workers, persons with disabilities, among others.  
 
UNFPA works closely with national partners and other UN agencies to strengthen the national Gender Based Violence (GBV) response with particular attention to sexual violence. This is facilitated through support to the promotion and development of the National Gender-based policy and Implementation plan, capacity building of police officers, social workers, magistrates and health practitioners in the use of the Domestic Violence protocol and the application of the Domestic Violence Act as well as the provision of equipment for data collection to monitor and evaluate the effects the Domestic Violence Legislation. 
 
Supported the Batterers Intervention Programme to facilitate behaviour change and thereby preventing the repeated occurrence of gender based violence.
 
Support for increased awareness among the general population to prevent incidence of sexual violence via information sessions and sexual violence forums during the 16 Days of Activism, the Unite Campaign and the ‘Orange Day’ campaign. 
 
Support for the development of key publications and promotional items in the area of gender based violence and sexual violence to increase awareness to prevent GBV and sexual violence and support for the implementation of various awareness programmes in schools and communities. 
 
Supported the conduct of a National Situation Analysis of Older persons In Belize and the Development of the Older Person’s Act to enhance legal protection of human Rights for Older Person In Belize. UNFPA also assist in building the capacity of national technical expertise in the area of Gerontology.
 
Empowering women to raise their political representation and become catalyst to address issues affecting women, particularly gender based violence and sexual violence through support to the National Women’s Commission “Women In Politics” Project via public forum on sexual and reproductive health and rights and consultation with key female leaders in Belize.  
 
Supported during all stages of the 2010 census, and helped ensure the data are widely utilized and disseminated for development. UNFPA has begun providing technical support for the 2020 census round.
 
UNFPA through its partnership with national authorities, civil society and other agencies, has contributed to:
Increase in contraceptive prevalence 
Reduction in the unmet need for family planning from 
Recording of ‘zero’ maternal deaths in 2011 and 
Increased access to modern contraceptives, including condoms in public health facilities country wide. 
Improved documentation for patients and health care providers
Structured training modules to improve health care workers skills 
Sustained annual capacity development for health care providers in areas of maternal health care and sexual and reproductive health.