NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the level of inequality in the country, according to Bahamian anthropologist and University of the Bahamas professor Dr Nicolette Bethel.
Bethel said the country must reckon with its ‘fragmentation’ during her remarks as a panelist at an Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) discussion on “Accountability and Ethics In Times of Crisis”.
“One of the things COVID-19 has shown us is exactly how unequal our country is, how different our country is and how poor we are as individuals and government of understanding the whole,” she said.
“New Providence is under two percent of the land mass and yes we have 70 percent of the population but that is because we haven’t developed anywhere else. We haven’t developed the whole. We haven’t focused on the whole. That fragmentation we have to reckon with.”
Bethel noted that with various islands being subjected to different lockdowns and COVID-19 orders, the plight of the family islands has now been brought to the forefront.
“It’s very difficult to have a collective sense of integrity when when the government hasn’t been thinking about the citizenry of as the whole,” she continued.
“When one does public one should be making the policy with the view for the public good but that has not generally been the culture of governments in The Bahamas for a generation. We have witnessed governments cede their responsibility to the public through privatization, foreign direct investment and all sort of things. Government has not been the primary actor to providing services to the citizenry for 30 years. This has forced government to look at the Bahamian public.”
According to Bethel, in the post-COVID-19 Bahamas, focus must be placed on the country as a whole and not just New Providence or Grand Bahama and Abaco.