WHY THIS REGION
Over the last two decades, most countries in Latin America have enjoyed sustained economic growth and have achieved middle income status.¹ However, in what is the most unequal region in the world, growth has not been broadly shared and the absolute number of poor people has actually increased. While only 5% of people in the Americas live in extreme poverty², indigenous people, Afro-descendants, women, and people with disabilities continue to be disproportionately represented among those below the extreme poverty line (defined as living on under $1.90/day) and are often not well-served by government social protection programs or other organizations.³
Trickle Up primarily works with women, who are often excluded from economic opportunities and financial services. Women do not yet have an equal status in the workplace, and gender-based violence and early marriage and childbirth contribute to women’s low status in the region. In indigenous communities, intergenerational cycles of poverty and marginalization have kept families from increasing their incomes, savings, and food security. The Americas are also home to a large population of people with disabilities.4 People with disabilities living in extreme poverty face numerous barriers to adequate education, job opportunities, and health care services.
Central America in particular has experienced a succession of political and security crises over the last decade related to long histories of poverty, conflict, structural exclusion, injustice, corruption, and organized crime. The region’s acute vulnerability to climate change has placed additional pressure on the poor with higher variability in agricultural production and an increase in natural disasters. Together, these forces leave millions of Central Americans in precarious economic circumstances with limited access to services.
Refugees in the Americas
Increasing violence and conflict contributed to a rise in refugees from Colombia in the region, which coupled with protracted situations to create a large population of people seeking the assistance of UNHCR. At the end of 2016, UNHCR estimated that there are 7.7 million internally displaced persons in Colombia, many of whom eventually flee to Ecuador and other neighboring countries.5 Trickle Up works with UNHCR in both Ecuador and Costa Rica to reach refugees and other displaced populations.