JIS News

The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) on Thursday (March 25) presented record grant awards of over J$221 million to some 54 organisations in the spheres of environment and child survival and development. The ceremony took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
The awards were made in two categories to projects and organisations falling into the category of AID (Agency for International Development) Debt grants and the PL480 programme.
Projects under the AID Debt grants include, early childhood development; children in challenging circumstances; child awareness and advocacy; and children with disabilities. Projects in the PL480 category include: sustainable forest and watersheds; biological diversity; waste management; integrated water management; national green spaces; and technical assistance/capacity building.
In her address at the ceremony, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Senator Deika Morrison expressed strong support for NGO’s stating that the work of this sector was pivotal to the development of the nation, not only in the access of resources and the ability to undertake projects, but also in the more fundamental areas such as marshalling community involvement, fuelling volunteerism, and enabling awareness and empowerment.
However, she cautioned against adversarial relationships between the state and NGOs. “Being anti-government – any government – does not make you a good NGO. Of course, no one expects full agreement on everything and in fact, your role in many cases is to be a watchdog. However, the way in which we resolve our differences is fundamental to the developmental gains that we make,” Senator Morrison stated. She pointed out that when the state and NGOs used their resources in conflict with each other, a poor example was being set for the younger generation and creative potential which could be used for the betterment of the society, was wasted.
Senator Morrison charged stronger NGOs to share their strengths and expertise with those NGOs that were weaker and to cooperate rather than compete as well as take any and all opportunities for institutional strengthening. She further urged NGOs to set standards for accountability for the sector, adding, “Let us work together to give each and every child the opportunity to be the best person he or she can be”.
The EFJ was established in 1991 through a debt swap agreement signed by the Government of Jamaica and the United States government. The Foundation began operating in 1993 and has to date supported over 200 non-governmental organizations, disbursing grants totalling some J$581 million.
Chairperson of the EFJ and Child Survival Director, Jeanne Robinson, said that as the EFJ entered its second decade it recognized that it was imperative to be even more focused on the impact and outcomes of its grant-making, yet at the same time assuring stakeholders and beneficiaries the highest levels of accountability for money disbursed. “In turn, the Foundation also expects the same of organizations with which it is working in partnership. We all must be more strategic in the way we work”.
She further emphasized that the board and staff of the Foundation had recommitted itself to the organisation’s mission to promote, support and implement activities designed to conserve the natural resources and the environment of Jamaica and to foster the well-being of our children.

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