Social Policies in Grenada

image of Social Policies in Grenada

The country case studies and thematic papers in this series examine social policy issues facing small states and the implications for economic development. They show how, despite their inherent vulnerability, some small states have been successful in improving their social indicators because of the complementary social and economic policies they have implemented.


Grenada is a small state that has made impressive initial achievements in economic and human development since independence, especially in education and health. However, continuing unemployment and poverty, the recent erosion of trade preferences, and the changing international donor aid environment have exposed structural weaknesses in its economic model. Patsy Lewis assesses developments in social policy approaches and delivery in the postcolonial period, including the economic strategies pursued and their effects on social policy, particularly in respect of children. She looks at the challenges faced by governments and presents a brief case study of Hurricane Ivan, as an instance for exploring community and national responses, resilience and innovation.



Post-colonial Economic and Social Challenges

Grenada’s first step toward independence came in 1951, when the first elections held under full adult suffrage gave the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) a big majority. The Party’s leader, Eric Gairy, was an outsider from the light-skinned and white political and economic elite. His hold on power was severely curtailed, however, by the power still held by the Governor.3 The West Indies Federation, initiated in 1958, failed to deliver on its promise of self-government and full independence, and collapsed in 1962.With the break-up of the Federation, Gairy – always conscious of the limitations of his power – sought to consolidate it through the manipulation of state patronage. However, in 1962 an inquiry into corruption in government, later dubbed the ‘Squandermania Affair’, found that he had gone too far and suspended the constitution for three months. When new elections were called, Gairy’s party lost. He was not to regain power until five years later. In 1967, Grenada and some smaller territories which were considered not viable as independent units entered into a peculiar relationship of associated statehood with Britain that allowed them control over internal affairs, but left Britain in charge of security and foreign relations. Under Gairy, Grenada finally achieved full independence in 1974.


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