JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica is expected to benefit significantly from USAID's continued implementation of its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET), over the next five years.
  • The Project is being carried out in partnership with the Jamaican Government.
  • COMET II is intended to continue USAID’s provision of assistance to the Government of Jamaica in strengthening citizen security and community policing initiatives.

Jamaica is expected to benefit significantly from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) continued implementation of its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET), over the next five years, at a cost of $1.4 billion (US$13 million).

The Project is being carried out in partnership with the Jamaican Government.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate implementation of the project’s second phase (COMET II), was signed by National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, and USAID Mission Director, Denise Herbol, during a brief ceremony at the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) New Kingston offices, on Friday, May 2.

COMET II is intended to continue USAID’s provision of assistance to the Government of Jamaica in strengthening citizen security and community policing initiatives, which commenced under the initial phase, from 2016 to 2012.

These activities were undertaken in 25 communities deemed volatile and marginalized, in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. James.

These communities are part of 100, which have been targeted for social and other interventions under the PIOJ’s Community Renewal Programme (CRP), with which COMET II has been aligned.

Activities earmarked over the five years, under COMET II, include: the provision of small grants to support community-based organizations; supporting the implementation of community-based policing programmes; engaging the police and civic leaders and civil society organizations to promote a culture of lawfulness; and strengthening communities’ abilities to respond to the effects of climate change.

The project will also support programmes that prevent youth from coming into conflict with the law; support youth empowerment and create youth-centred spaces and activities within communities; and conduct mass media campaigns on a culture of lawfulness.

Project implementation will commence with pilot undertakings in five communities. These include: Rennock Lodge, Kingston; Stony Hill, St. Andrew; Gregory Park, St. Catherine; Four paths, Clarendon; and Cambridge, St. James.

The roll out of activities is being spearheaded by the global entity, TETRA Tech/DPK, in collaboration with the CRP; the Social Development Commission (SDC); and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The overall COMET project supports the Government’s objectives and key aspects of the country’s Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan, which seeks to position the island to achieve developed country status within 16 years and, in the process, make it the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Bunting thanked the USAID for maintaining its support for the government’s crime management thrust, particularly “our efforts in violence prevention through social interventions.”

He noted that the administration is seeking to create opportunities, through private and public sector stakeholders’ inputs, that spur persons and organisations from merely expressing concern, into action around violence prevention.

“In many ways, COMET II’s objectives are directly aligned with this strategy, and we see COMET as a critical partner in this effort. This change in culture and social norms will be critical to us achieving the objective of creating a more caring, gently, and safe society and, ultimately, achieving the (goals of the) Vision 2030 (Jamaica National Development) Plan,” Mr. Bunting stated.

Director General of the PIOJ, Colin Bullock, who also spoke, said the signing “encapsulates the very heart of Vision 2030 Jamaica”.

He contended that Friday’s proceedings are indicative of the government, USAID, and the wider population, embracing, owning, and investing in the National Development Plan. He said further, that it is a commitment to achieving the goals and targets outlined in the Plan.

Ms. Herbol described the MoU as a “wonderful example of partnership…and inter-Ministerial effort.”

“We (USAID) support Jamaica to heal and move forward on a path peaceful dwelling and sustainable growth; the end result is a worthy goal to push forward to achieve,” she added.

Following the signing, Ms. Herbol made symbolic presentations to Mr. Bunting, as well as Mr. Bullock, and SDC Executive Director, Dr. Dwayne Vernon.

Mr. Bullock and Dr. Vernon accepted on behalf of Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon Peter Phillips, and Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, both of whom were unable to attend the ceremony to sign the MoU..

Arrangements will be made for the Ministers to sign copies of the document at a later date.