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JIS News

A delegation from the Kenyan government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are in the island to examine elements of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), to see how best practices could be duplicated in social programmes in the African nation.
Speaking to journalists at the National Heroes Circle office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security yesterday (Feb.13), after an extensive meeting where the foreign representatives were briefed about the initiative, State Minister in the Ministry, Senator Floyd Morris, informed that PATH has had much success since its implementation three years ago.
“We have been seeing a reduction in terms of the amount of money that is being expended for administrative purposes so more individuals, more beneficiaries, are getting the desired funds,” he said. Data from the Ministry shows that 250,000 persons have accessed the programme.
PATH is a project of the government through funding from the World Bank, and is an amalgamation of three former major social safety net projects – the Food Stamp Programme, Old Age and Incapacity Benefit Programme, and the Outdoor Poor Relief.
The State Minister said that based on the achievements so far, the World Bank has cited it as a success and has referred other countries seeking to establish social safety net programmes of their own, to examine Jamaica’s system.
“Consequently,” Senator Morris noted, “we have had a visit from Bahamas and we are now receiving a visit from our brothers in Kenya, and they will be here with us for the next few days to look at the systems we have put in place, look at what is taking place in the field, the effects that it is having on beneficiaries in the different parishes, with the view of going back to their country and undoubtedly, implementing that which they think is appropriate for their particular development.”
Meanwhile, the Kenyan government’s representative, Ahmed Hussein Ahmed, said that his government was most concerned about scaling up its response mechanism to deal with orphaned children, especially those who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS. He informed that of an estimated 1.8 million orphans in Kenya, 800,000 of them were orphaned due to HIV and AIDS.
Mr. Ahmed informed that after extended consultations, his government was advised of the PATH programme, which had been deemed successful, and a visit was arranged to the island to examine its merits.
Of the meeting with PATH officials, he said, “we have gone through quite a number of processes, we have learnt a lot of things and we think that on our way back, we would have learnt something that will help us shape and direct the kind of social safety net, in terms of conditional customs, we want to implement in Kenya.”
Asked what elements of the PATH programme he was interested in replicating, Mr. Ahmed told JIS News that the areas associated with targeting, selection criteria, and the disbursement of money to the beneficiaries were of particular importance. “Those are very critical for us, and what we have learnt, and especially very useful, is that there is an appeal system and there is a mechanism for appeal,” he pointed out.
“One of the things that we hope we do is to ensure that most of the resources that we mean for beneficiaries get to them, and we have realised here that 90 per cent of the resources are going to the beneficiaries and 10 per cent is being used for administrative and other costs, and these are things that we hope to replicate and learn,” Mr. Ahmed added.
Heimo Laakkonen, the representative from UNICEF, also endorsed the PATH programme and highlighted the significance of the exchange of information between countries.
“It is important to learn from those who already have experience in this field, so we strongly support the south/south collaboration, the inter-regional exchange programmes and that’s why we are here. We are here to learn from the Jamaican experience and take it back to Kenya,” he said.
Mr. Laakkonen gave the assurance that the Kenyan Vice President, Moodi Awori, who also has the mandate of child protection in his capacity as the Minister of Home Affairs, would be thoroughly briefed of the visit and of the best practices to implement.
“The lessons we learn here during this week, will be taken back and definitely will be taken seriously and to every extent possible, implemented where applicable in the situation in Kenya,” he stated.
He emphasised that “for UNICEF, it is really important to be part of this delegation.we are helping the government of Kenya in all their programmes where the main objective is to reach the fulfilment of all the rights of the child, for all the children.”
The Kenyan/UNICEF delegation arrived in Jamaica on February 13 and is scheduled to depart on Thursday, February 16.