Montego Bay South Division residents laud PSUPThursday, April 29, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Residents in four communities in the Montego Bay South Division of St James, where the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) COVID-19 response initiative has been implemented, say the initiative has positively impacted their lives.
This programme, which is funded by a US$100,000 grant from the European Union through the United Nations (UN)-Habitat, is a partnership with the St James Municipal Corporation, aimed at improving the lives of residents within these communities through four components.
The components are: COVID-19 sensitisation and education which included the painting of murals; removal of bulky waste; sanitisation and distribution of care packages to households within the four communities — Canterbury, Albion Lane, William Street and Paradise Row.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer West during the distribution of care packages in the division on Saturday, William Street resident Cohen Clarke noted the importance of the programme to the residents of his community.
“It is very important because you know, the pandemic has been very devastating because many people have lost their jobs and do not have any money, so the packages [that] have [been] issued out have helped several households [to] maintain families,” said Clarke.
Clarke, who also identified himself as the community supervisor for the programme, expressed gratitude on the behalf of the other members of the William Street community.
“People are really appreciative of the programme that has been going on and we just give thanks for everything that has been taking place,” he said.
Two residents of the Albion Lane community, who did not want to be named, expressed similar sentiments. They both explained that the programme has helped to keep their community clean, adding that they have also benefited from a new garbage holding area.
Councillor for the Montego Bay South Division, Richard Vernon, noted that through the programme, which started last August, several area residents have received jobs.
“Right throughout the project, we created employment. I can tell you that we have issued over 2,500 masks and they were manufactured within the community by community members. We purchased these masks from them and redistributed them to the people,” said Vernon.
“We also created employment through the construction of garbage holding areas, that part came under the removal of bulky waste [and] garbage collection improvement components of the project. Persons were employed to do the construction and all the skills came from the communities.”
“We needed young men with strong arms and women who could manage to help us to remove the old appliances, furniture and other things that we would regard as bulky waste. We also employed them to help with the removal of solid waste and cleaning up of the gully, the distribution of pamphlets under the education campaign aspect of the project and of course, persons from the community were paid to paint murals,” said the councillor.
Vernon explained that the PSUP was a collective effort by not only the municipal corporation, but Western Parks and Market (WPM), St James Public Health Department, the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Universal Church youth group.
All of them, he stressed, came on board to help make the initiative a success.
He further noted that the care packages were provided at a reduced cost by the Lasco Foundation.
“Quite a number of stakeholders [came] on board. They have played their part and it is a joined-up government approach, in terms of dealing with it, and that is what we committed to the EU,” he said.
Noting that about 3,000 care packages have been distributed to households within the four communities since the start of the programme, Vernon shared several other aspects of work that was undertaken under the project.
“We did quite a number of trips to remove the bulky waste from the communities, we did misting and fogging, and when we removed the bulky waste, we also had a programme in place to deal with baiting, setting bait stations for rodents. The public relations aspect had to do the sensitisation and education of persons in respect to COVID-19, how to handle themselves during the pandemic. The fourth component of the project is what we did today [Saturday] — the issuing of care packages. The distribution of care packages is a direct response to the economic downside that we [residents] have faced given the straits of the pandemic,” he noted.
“I must note that under the PSUP, distribution of care packages isn't their prerogative. It is only because of the COVID-19 [pandemic] why we have had a distribution of packages,” he pointed out.
“It is also the first time that the European Union is doing a project without being [present], so the project has been completely executed by us here, locally at the municipal corporation, from the project management to the field management, we managed the project completely but, of course, would have had to provide status updates weekly to the officer assigned to us from the European Union.”
The councillor said while the mindset of residents has been altered as a result of the intervention, more needs to be done.
“In terms of the mindset of the people, it has changed somewhat, and we want to see how best we can seek more funding to prolong the project over another period because changing behaviour and changing mindset takes time. You need a lot of intervention and consistent intervention for that to be changed because you're talking about changing a social pattern, so we would like to look for other sources,” he said.
Assistant Project Manager Dr Joan Dove told the Observer West that though residents were sceptical at the start of the project, they came around after seeing work being done.
“It has brought a lot of pride in the communities. They told us that for five years people have been coming there, they are saying they are going to do things, yet nothing happens so this is just another one of them, so initially they were sceptical, but after they started to see the work being done, they came around. They even got jobs after a lot of them lost their jobs in the tourism industry, we were able to create some short-term jobs to help them,” said Dove.
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