Dr Herbert Gayle, senior lecturer at The University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI), is underscoring the important role that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can play in addressing the root causes of violence.
Addressing a Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) sector meeting, hosted in partnership with The Caribbean Policy Development Centre under the theme 'Ignite CSO 2023… Enhancing CARIFORUM's civil society capacity to participate in national and regional development programming and policymaking', Dr Gayle indicated that only a small number of people in the population are creating mayhem.
He said statistics show that there are about 40,000 inner-city males of the combatant age group between 15 and 34 years, and only five per cent (2,000) are likely to commit homicide. Since only one of 200 are likely to kill professionally, there are only 200 full-time 'shottas' operating.
"However, these 200 young men can account for 53 per cent of our homicides. These murderers are in fact victims of abuse and violence themselves," Dr Gayle said, attributing this to the poor structures of families in underserved communities. He suggested that the design of interventions must target the families and indeed the women who often head these households.
"If we get serious we can redeploy the combatants and we will see the miracle [transformation] in Jamaica," he said, noting that intervention should be targeted at the secondary level, or even earlier.
"The time has come for us to work together as a family and begin to focus and educate ourselves as to what to do. Non-governmental organisations can make a world of difference, you have access to resources. I beg of you to focus and let us see if we can save some lives, as the life we save might be our own."
Dr Gayle's presentation, 'Violence reduction — do NGOs have a role to play in identifying the root causes?' critically examined attaining Sustainable Development Goal #16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies.
The head of the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at The UWI suggested that NGOs should collaborate more frequently on initiatives and communicate with each other consistently to prevent duplication of efforts. He reiterated that NGOs must be careful to avoid undertaking projects that are unsustainable, with goals that are unrealistic. The social expert also lamented that too often projects are left midway because implementers fail to properly budget.
Meanwhile Nancy Pinchas, executive director of the CVSS who also addressed the meeting, agreed with Dr Gayle that NGOs should work in a more unified manner. She said this can be achieved if each organisation captures the data about what is being done, then others will learn and act accordingly.
Pinchas said that civil society organisations have opportunities to reach troubled youth in communities, and as grass roots organisations they have a special role to play to make a difference in these communities.
"What CVSS is all about this year is leaving no one behind. Let us ensure that these [troubled] young people are not left behind," she said.
And AnnMarie Kirlew, programmes manager at CVSS, said, "The CVSS through these sector meetings is creating the framework for ongoing capacity strengthening of civil society organisations, enabling them to deliver outputs that contribute to national development plans and increase their ability to advocate for marginalised groups so they can impact policy at the national level."
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