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KINGSTON — The Jamaica Community Crime and Violence Prevention Programme, launched in June 2010, has been making strides in its efforts to reduce violence in high risk inner-city communities across the parishes of Kingston, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. James.

Project Manager for the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF)-implemented programme, Ayanna Demetrius, tells JIS News that already, the initiative has positively impacted the lives of some 5,036 youths between the ages of six to 25 years through various social intervention programmes.

During the first year of implementation, a total of $108 million was granted towards some 10 sub-projects including some 11 summer camps held between July and August 2010 targeted at young people. At least $95 million is expected to be spent this year on 12-month programmes and 10 summer camps, which will take place up to the end of August.

Miss Demetrius tells JIS News that the activities, which are being undertaken in collaboration with related ministries and government agencies, several non-governmental organisations (NGO) and community-based groups, involve job skills training; training and mentoring in conflict resolution and mediation; social and capacity-building training inclusive of civic skills, guidance counselling, summer programmes, homework and remedial classes; and social support services for vulnerable families.

“We have done vocational skills training programmes where they have become HEART/NTA certified so they are now employable and we have also done a number of skills training in other areas, such as ornamental fish farming, which is a newly emerging area that is very popular in these communities,” she informs.

She says a number of youngsters have also been given the opportunity to hone their skills in the performing arts, particularly in music, through the hosting of several entertainment workshops. “We’ve done a number of music and video productions, which will be aired later this year for the public and we’re hoping that this will have some sort of impact on them individually as well,” she says.

Miss Demetrius says JSIF is particularly proud of the investments made with the various NGOs, noting that through this collaboration, “we have been able to interact with over 5,000 youths, who would normally have been idly sitting on the street corners, not having any form of formal engagement, and persons that would not have normally had a skill in order to get a job."

She notes that through the summer camps, which are hosted by organisations such as the Area Youth Foundation, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, and Operation Friendship the youngsters are positively engaged for several weeks through entertainment and educational workshops. 

The Jamaica Community Crime and Violence Prevention Programme is being financed through grant funding from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), which is administered by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).

The JSDF grant is divided into two components, with component ‘A’ focussed on activities to strengthen crime and violence prevention in 12 inner-city communities that are part of the Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP).

These: Federal Gardens, Jones Town, Craig Town and Greater Brown’s Town in Kingston and St. Andrew; Central Village (Andrews Lane, Big Lane, Little Lane and Detroit), Tawes Pen, Africa, Dempshire Pen/Jones Avenue (Shelter Rock), Lauriston and Knollis in St. Catherine; Bucknor/Rectory Lands in Clarendon; and Flankers, St. James.

Funding, under component ‘A’, also entails the implementation of an Integrated Crime and Violence Information System (ICVIS) or Crime Observatory, through collaboration with Mona GeoInformatics Limited.

“Is a web-based platform that will be looking at cross validated data on crime that are coming from the police as well as the Ministry of Health,” the Project Manager explains.  

She informs that once the information or the data is validated by a technical committee it will be hosted on a website that will be open to the public. The technical committee, which has already been formed, consists of representatives from JSIF, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Health, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD).

“This is to ensure that information the public receives is accurate, as well as to dispel fears of under reporting on certain crimes, especially homicides, to ensure that the data collection process across the different agencies is a clean process and of quality standard. Additionally it’s to establish patterns, where we look at trends, and to provide information for members of the wider public that might be doing research or analysis,” Miss Demetrius informs.

She notes however, that while the main crime observatory is being designed and developed, a basic database has been established that has facilitated cross validation by the technical committee. Additionally, the team has utilised the database for the entry of information related to seven major crimes for the period January to March 2011. 

“The committee meets on a monthly basis and we cross validate the data on homicides and other major crimes, such as suicides, sexual assault, and robbery to ensure that everybody has the same information,” she says.

Under component ‘B’, a portion of the grant has been allocated to the Jamaica Violence Action (JAVA) Fund to support innovative approaches to crime and violence prevention, through demand-driven projects developed and implemented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based groups (CBOs).

Targeted at high-risk areas along the Kingston to May Pen metropolitan corridor, which are not served by the ICBSP, the JAVA Fund supports subprojects in mediation and conflict resolution; social programmes for at-risk youth, aimed at violence prevention; and social support services for vulnerable families.

Beneficiary communities include: Greenwich Town, Rose Town, Nannyville, Waterhouse, New Haven, August Town, Grants Pen, Parade Gardens, Olympic Gardens, Union Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, Mountain View, Denham Town, and Rose Town in Kingston; Juno Crescent, Hazard/Paisley, Bushy Park and Canaan Heights, Clarendon; and Homestead, De la Vega City, Gordon Pen and Irish Pen in St. Catherine.

 

By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter