- Some 83 projects were approved as at December 2013, which targeted improvements in social infrastructure.
- Under JSIF, several schools received well needed renovation throughout the year thereby enhancing the learning environment.
- A total of 71 residents from several communities in St. Catherine successfully completed vocational and life skills training under the Alternative Livelihoods and Skills Development Project.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) impacted the lives of thousands of Jamaicans in the past year through a series of programmes that assisted in empowering young people and communities, as well as improving social and economic infrastructure across the island.
The agency, which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister, was allocated a budget of some $1.85 billion in the Estimates of Expenditure for the fiscal year 2013/2014. JSIF has also partnered with international donor agencies such as the European Union (EU), the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), PetroCaribe Development Fund, the Government of Japan, as well as other public and private sector entities, community groups and non-governmental organizations as it went about improving the lives of those who needed it most.
83 PROJECTS APPROVED
Some 83 projects were approved as at December 2013, which targeted improvements in social infrastructure such as the enhancement of facilities in schools and health centres; implementation of water and sanitation projects; rehabilitation of several agricultural roadways; income-generating and poverty reduction especially in inner-city areas and in agriculture and tourism.
There were also a myriad of vocational training programmes aimed at building the capacity of young people so that they can earn a livelihood, as well as projects aimed at conflict resolution and preventing crime and violence.
One of the most impactful was the rehabilitation of two kilometres of roadway in Hayfield, St. Thomas which the residents, who are mostly coffee farmers, hailed for making it easier for them to transport their produce to the market. It also opened up new revenue opportunities to the community through visitors who park their vehicles and hike the Cuna Cuna Pass into the Blue Mountains. The project was done at a cost of approximately $37.3 million with funding from the CDB, and entailed asphalting of the roadway; construction of retaining walls; installation of new drains and repairing of others to lengthen the lifespan of the road, given the high levels of rainfall which the area experiences.
A contract was also signed in July for the rehabilitation of the Richmond Vale to Richmond Gap roadway in Western St. Thomas costing $26.90 million. The road serves the Bethel Gap, Mango Row, Cabbage Hill, Richmond Gap and Richmond Vale communities and its poor state had long affected the farmers getting their produce to market as well as children getting to school and persons employed outside of the community.
Under JSIF, several schools received well needed renovation throughout the year thereby enhancing the learning environment. Standout projects included the renovation of the Wilsons Run Primary School in Trelawny, at a cost of approximately $31.4 million; upgrading of St Michael’s Infant School in Portland costing $21.5 million; and rehabilitation of Tower Hill Missionary Early Childhood Centre, St. Andrew at $21.4 million.
Students welcomed the construction of a new sanitary block to replace pit latrines or upgraded sewerage facilities. Other infrastructural works included upgrading of play area; electrical works and and extensive renovation of the school buildings. In the case of basic schools, much needed age appropriate facilities and furniture was installed.
Sanitation improvement works were also undertaken at Kilsyth Primary and Infant School; New Works Primary and Infant School; Victoria Primary School; Bethesda All Age; St. Marys All Age; Roses Valley Primary; Scotts Pass Primary; Caledonia Primary; Cedar Valley Primary and Infant; Bermaddy Primary; Raymoth Notice Basic; Bethlehem All Age; Esher Primary among several others.
Through JSIF and its partners hope was engendered in young people in many inner-city communities. There were skills training programmes in the volatile communities of Flankers and Norwood, St. James; Majesty Gardens, Rae Town, Greenwich Town, Whitfield Town, Rose Town and Arnett Gardens in Kingston; Central Village, Shelter Rock, Tawes Pen, Lauriston and March Pen, St. Catherine among others.
A total of 71 residents from several communities in St. Catherine successfully completed vocational and life skills training under the Alternative Livelihoods and Skills Development Project, while 45 from Rae Town benefitted from a skills training and entrepreneurship programme.
Another 62 youngsters from Majesty Gardens gained skills in dressmaking, jewellery design, crocheting, and furniture making; 15 from South West St. Andrew, who learnt how to weld; and 20 from St. Catherine were trained in leather craft and business development skills.
Seventeen young people from communities in Kingston and St. Andrew and St. James, were also given an opportunity to gain skills in animation which is a lucrative US$200 billion industry globally.
The agency also targeted teenage parents from areas such as Whitfield Town in southwest St. Andrew, providing them with parenting workshops, psychosocial support and skills training to boost their employment and earning capacity.
The youngsters also benefited from training in areas of computers, job applications and interviews, self awareness, deportment, managing anger, conflict resolution among others.
In November, four mobile community security and dispute resolution centres were opened in March Pen, St. Catherine at a cost of $25 million, to serve the Lauriston and Shelter Rock areas. They are for mediation, community policing, and other community activities.
Partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries resulted in economic empowerment of hundreds of Jamaicans. With funding from the EU, the ‘Step Up 2013 Sweet Paradise Expansion’ project got underway in the Greater Brown’s Town community in the Corporate Area. The project provided training for 16 youths in beekeeping and honey production.
Some 200 farmers and exporters were trained in food safety management as the Government puts systems in place to ensure that Jamaica meets global food safety standards. Another 5,000 farmers were been sensitised in local safety standards and the new Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) legislated by the United States of America.
More than $27 million of a $48-million budget was allocated by JSIF to train farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for crops such as yam, hot pepper, pumpkin and callaloo. The farmers were also awarded Food Handler’s Certificates by the Ministry of Health.
Residents of Bethel Town in Westmoreland welcomed the construction of a $24 million sorrel factory in the area through funding from JSIF and the World Bank. The project included the construction and equipping of the factory and also marketing and capacity building through training.
There were also agro projects in Coleyville and Long Coffee Districts in Manchester; and Bottom Bonnett, St. Catherine.
The agency also continued its ‘Operation Certification’ programme in collaboration with the Registrar General’s Department (RDG) where close to 3,000 persons from 12 inner-city communities received registration documents free of charge. Funded by the World Bank, the project impacted persons in Flankers, St James; Bucknor, Knollis, Shelter Rock, Lauriston, Tawes Meadows and March Pen/Africa in St Catherine, and Whitfield Town and Jones Town in St Andrew.
Projects from JSIF also touched on energy conservation where residents of Central Village were aided to minimise their energy cost through a pilot light bulb exchange project. Valued at $277,000 the project replaced 400 incandescent light bulbs in 100 homes with ‘Energy Star’ compact fluorescent light bulbs.