Advertisement
JIS News

Government and the World Bank have joined together to pursue strategies to effectively address challenges faced by residents of some inner city communities, through the Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP).
A five-year project, which began in 2006, the ICBSP is jointly funded by the World Bank and Jamaican Government at a cost of US$32.8 million. The World Bank has provided a loan of US$29.3 million, while the remaining US$3.5 million is a provision from government.
The ICBSP is a two-pronged initiative, focusing on the physical and social infrastructure of communities targeted for assistance. The project is intended to: strengthen human and social capital; enhance public safety; and provide access to micro financing as well as basic infrastructure. Focus is also placed on other areas such as land tenure, public safety, and youth recreational and educational activities.
It is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) – a limited liability company, incorporated under the Company’s Act of Jamaica in 1996 – as a key component in the Government’s national poverty alleviation strategy.
Communities targetted are: Jones Town, Federal Gardens, Passmore Town/Brown’s Town, and Whitfield Town in Kingston and St. Andrew, with a population of 43,034 in 8,606 households; Tawes Meadows, Lauriston, Shelter Rock, Africa, Central Village (inclusive of Big Lane and Detroit, Little Lane, and Andrews Lane), and Knollis in St. Catherine with a target population of 15,140 in 3,035 households; Bucknor in Clarendon, with a population of 1,150 in 230 households, and Flankers in St. James, with a target population of 7,148 in 1,430 households.
The selections were based on the level of poverty in the communities; access to household water connections; crime and violence characteristics (levels and ability to intervene); strength of community-based organizations, and tenure considerations associated with the settlement.
The selection process was administered by the Ministry of National Security, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and Social Development Commission (SDC), along with JSIF.
The JSIF’s Social Services Co-ordinator, Grace-Ann Scarlett tells JIS News that the ICBSP links into targets 10 and 11 of the United Nations (UN), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to improve the lives of urban dwellers.
Ms. Scarlett says significant work has been undertaken in the areas of public safety, with specific focus on mediation and conflict resolution. Particular attention, she adds, has been placed on children in the communities, and the most appropriate intervention initiatives applicable, which can assist them in dealing with the challenges that obtain.
One such initiative is art, and earlier this year JSIF co-ordinated a poster competition for children, ages six to 12 years. The youngsters were invited to express themselves creatively on the theme: ‘How Does Crime and Violence Affect Me.’
Entries from over 20 children were received and judged, and various prizes and trophies were presented at an awards ceremony and exhibition at the Devonshire Restaurant, Devon House, in Kingston on Wednesday, June 18.
Speaking at the ceremony, Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, described the displays as reminders of the challenges society faces, in particular persons and organizations involved in the implementation of programmes aimed at assisting socially-challenged communities. She further said the pieces supported arguments of the negative impact crime and violence have on the psyche of young people, and stressed the need for far-reaching interventions in their communities.
“These testimonials are clear indications that our efforts to reduce levels of absolute poverty will be severely affected if there are not structured and targeted corrective programmes in these volatile communities,” Mrs. Gillings stressed.
She noted that during JSIF’s 11-year involvement in providing interventions in a number of the challenged communities, they have seen “real changes,” in the attitudes of community members to their own development.
“We are proud of these achievements in building levels of social capital, and have seen, first hand, the determination of many of these communities to ‘do it themselves’,” the JSIF head pointed out.
Mrs. Gillings highlighted JSIF’s readiness to take on the challenges associated with the communities, adding that the organization has been carrying out groundwork upwards of the last 12 months, in the ICBSP-targetted communities.
“Already, as part of our strategy, we have increased the capacity of the 12 communities in conflict resolution and mediation through our partnership with the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF). Over 180 mediators have been trained and are certified to undertake the massive work of conflict resolution in the communities,” she outlined.
Additionally, she said that with the help of the Social Development Commission (SDC), over 300 residents in 17 community-based organizations have been trained in leadership skills, and are now members of their various community committees.
Mrs. Gillings disclosed that over the last 10 months, JSIF undertook work to strengthen supervision of homework classes and assist with extra tutoring for Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) students in the communities. She pointed out that the GSAT programme provides additional teaching assistance to students, whose parents or guardians are unable to afford private lessons, and/or who are performing below grade standards, adding that over 1,200 students are registered.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Senator Warren Newby, who also spoke at the ceremony, noted that children from the upper and lower strata of society were basically born with similar abilities. He, however, lamented that those at society’s lower rung were being prevented from attaining achievements because of “stress” placed on the communities by both the “system” and others who have been “deprived by the system.” He added that the rest of society needs to be mindful of the need to arrest these challenges.
“This (ICBSP) is the path that gives me hope (to this end). Because, if agencies like JSIF continue to play their part, (then) these children are determined to make a break with what has been considered normal in these communities,” Senator Newby argued.
Other significant initiatives which Ms. Scarlett says are being undertaken include the construction of multi-purpose buildings in Flankers, Central Village, Lauriston, Bucknor, Federal Gardens and Knollis, as well as rehabilitation of an existing structure in Tawes Meadows. This undertaking, she explained, was out of recognition of the need for communities to have social spaces, where residents would have opportunities to interact on matters pertaining to development.
Also to be undertaken are rehabilitation, expansion and extension of water supplies and networks, and rehabilitation of water tanks; reinstatement of roadways; regularization of electricity connections, and rehabilitation of boundaries, which will entail the replacement of zinc fences to improve the physical state of communities.
Ms. Scarlett tells JIS News that the ICBSP also has a solid waste component which will complement the work of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). This programme, she explains, will have a strong social marketing component, which will focus on efforts at recycling, as well as proper disposal of waste.
The micro-financing component, she adds, aims to give persons the opportunity to gain access to small lending agencies that can help them become “architects of their own lives.” Another component, land tenure regularization, is to be undertaken in some of the communities, she discloses, pointing out that it is designed to support Government’s squatter management and upgrading programme.
The JSIF Social Services Co-ordinator advises that a special multi-agency project steering committee has been established to effect proper monitoring and evaluation of the activities.
Ms. Scarlett stresses that sustainability of the activities is key when the ICBSP ends in 2012. To this end, she says that as part of JSIF’s exit strategy, significant investment is being made on building capacity at the community level.