KINGSTON, Jamaica - Jamaicans living in rural areas, particularly those in the areas of northern Clarendon, southern St Ann, Manchester, and St Elizabeth, will benefit from a joint programme aimed at strengthening the country’s food, water, and energy security.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, launched the initiative on Friday, September 30 at the ROK Hotel in downtown Kingston.
A multi-agency collaboration, led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the programme seeks to better enable Jamaica, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), to combat current and future crises.
It is funded largely by the European Union (EU), through the United Nations (UN) Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund and will place focus on rural female farmers.
The programme will, among other things, provide for evidence-based policy formulation and programming to assist the most vulnerable population affected by food, energy, and water challenges in Jamaica.
It is scheduled to run from September to December 2022 and will support food security, water management, and the reduction of rural urban drift.
McKenzie, in the keynote address, said that the programme is being launched at a time in the nation’s history when it must contend with the effects of various external shocks.
He noted that 90 per cent of Jamaica’s farmers hail from rural areas and, according to a Social Development Commission (SDC) survey, 87 per cent of persons who occupy market spaces across the country are females.
McKenzie pointed out that the Government has been making significant strides in bringing potable water to thousands of households, especially in rural areas where farmers are most in need. There has also been much work in improving and increasing the country’s network of markets.
The minister hailed the collaboration to undertake the programme, noting the Government’s commitment to working with international partners for the development of the nation, and to contribute to global advancement.
“We have developed and have enjoyed, over the years, a special relationship with organisations such as the EU, the UN and other such international bodies… [and] the country is more than grateful because we have seen the benefits of these interventions,” he said.
“We will continue to work with you to deal with the issues that affect us as a country and to make our contribution in improving the welfare of all the people of the world,” the minister added.
Other partners on the programme include the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, Water Resources Authority (WRA), National Water Commission (NWC), the University of the West Indies (UWI), Social Development Commission (SDC), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Northern Caribbean University (NCU), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), UN Resident Coordinator Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).