KINGSTON, Jamaica ;— The Ananda Alert programme is now officially under the purview of the Ministry of Youth and Culture.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Noel Arscott, made the disclosure as he responded to questions posed by Member of Parliament for West Kingston, Desmond McKenzie Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
“The programme, although well intentioned, was never properly staffed or properly structured in the first place. One officer was assigned to it; in fact, it was put in the Public Relations Department and there was no budgetary allocation for the programme,” Arscott said.
“This thing is a serious matter, about missing children, and it has implications for the reputation of Jamaica in terms of human trafficking. It is a programme, which must be properly resourced and taken seriously,” he added.
McKenzie asked for assurance that the programme would operate effectively under the Youth Ministry.
“All the requisite skills set reside with the Ministry of Youth and Culture to be able to deal with this properly,” Arscott responded.
He said the Local Government Ministry would continue to assist and would help to locate missing persons through the Social Development Commission (SDC).
The Ananda Alert is a nationwide system designed to ensure a speedy and safe recovery of children in the event that they are abducted.
The system involves the mobilisation of stakeholders into getting the message of a missing child into the public domain the moment the matter is reported to the police.
The aim is to create a rapid response from law enforcement and communities to help bring the matter to public attention with the aim of increasing the chances of a safe recovery and return to family, guardian and or place of safety.