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Six communities signed agreements with the European Union (EU) Monday (June 7) for grants totalling $6.5 million, to carry out poverty alleviation projects addressing youth empowerment, nutrition enhancement and literacy.
The grants are being made available under the EU’s Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP) II, which is partly funded by the Jamaican Government and implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Ministry of National Security and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
The programme includes a training and education project in Rockfort, Kingston, to enable 40 persons to sit the HEART/Trust Grade Nine Examination at a cost of $1.1 million and a project for nutritional support, at home and school, also in Rockfort, which will get $1 million. A nutrition project for at least 40 students at the St. Elizabeth Basic School, Ransford Avenue, St. Andrew, will get $555,291.

Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni (left), presenting the document for $1.1 million in grant funding for the Windsor Heights Small Business project to Cyril Henry (centre) and Andrew Johnson, who represented the community at the signing ceremony for a total of $$6.5 million in financing for seven projects, across six communities Monday (June 7). The EU is making the grants available under the Poverty Reduction Programme II, which is partially funded by the Jamaican Government and implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). The signing was held at the EU’s offices in Kingston.

Additionally, the Gregory Park Primary School, St. Catherine will benefit from after school literacy and numeracy support, to increase the percentage of students sitting the Grade Four Numeracy and Literacy examinations, with a sum of $917,150, while the CXC Preparation and Community Literacy Upliftment initiative in Newlands,
St. Catherine, will receive $710, 249 to help prepare students for Mathematics, English and Social Studies, as well as to improve literacy in both adults and children.
In Windsor Heights, St. Catherine, $1.16 million has been granted to generate employment and ease strife among factions within the community, through sports. The New Horizon Social Intervention for Wynter’s Pen project, also in St. Catherine, will get $1 million to address social disunity and conflict resolution skills in the community.
Head of Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, explained that the effort began with a call for proposals for small grants under PRP II. A number of communities came forward with projects, of which seven met the criteria.
He said that he was very glad to be able to sign the agreements, which he described as a very significant component of the EU’s programme.
“It is very significant, because this is what the communities themselves came forward with, and because of the issues that they want to tackle with these funds: skills training and employment activities; peace-building and dispute resolution; training; recreational activities; and social capital building,” he outlined.
Ambassador Alemanni noted that this was the “first wave” of these types of projects, with more being planned for the future.
Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, welcomed the programme, stressing the importance of building social capital.
“It is so important, because what we are seeing today is a lack of trust, and it is important that the community take control. We know our needs, we know the problems and it is for us to take control,” she urged.
Mrs. Gillings also urged the successful bidders to make their projects work, despite the challenges.
“JSIF will be working along with members of the communities to see to the implementation of these programmes. We will be there to give a hand when the challenges come,” she assured.