Earth Today | Jamaican community groups assessed for sustainable development support
TWENTY RURAL community groups from Jamaica and one other country were recently assessed by the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as part of efforts to shore up their capacity for sustainable development.
The intervention was made through the Pilot Beneficiary Group Capacity and Programme Assessment “to build the communities’ capacity to drive their own development, while fostering strategic partnerships to achieve their goals”, according to George Yearwood, portfolio manager at BNTF.
“The information from the assessments will help us to identify the areas of greatest need, and capacities of beneficiary groups under the BNTF 10th Cycle, for further training and support, while also using the data to engage development partners around providing support to these groups,” he said.
BNTF is CDB’s main vehicle for pursuing direct poverty reduction in the region. It responds to needs identified by the most vulnerable communities, focusing on the priority areas of water and sanitation, education and livelihoods enhancement, as well as access and drainage to improve the quality of life of beneficiaries.
“BNTF puts communities at the heart of its actions. It reaches a large cross-section of poor and vulnerable communities in its engagement,” noted Richardo Aiken, BNTF community development specialist.
“So, it is critical that we have the data to design appropriate programmes and build the capacity of beneficiary groups to better manage their development and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), even beyond the BNTF 10th Cycle,” he added.
Some 126 people participated in the assessments, which took place in communities across Clarendon, Hanover, St Catherine, St James, Manchester, St Elizabeth, St Ann, Trelawny, and Westmoreland in Jamaica. In Guyana, 70 people participated in the assessments that were done in Black Bush Polder in Region 6, Surama and Nappi in Region 9, Onderneeming, Cotton Field, Anna Regina, Mashabo and Mainstay in Region 2.
The assessments for both countries were done from late February to mid-March 2023, and were conducted in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the BNTF Implementing Agency, Ministry of Finance in Guyana, using the adaptive and innovative online Kobo Toolbox data-collection software.
They looked at the capacity of community groups to apply for and implement projects, as well as to effectively manage their local groups. It identified the strengths and weaknesses of the diverse groups with the aim of developing a capacity-building plan. As BNTF’s programme strongly aligns with the SDGs, the assessments also incorporated community awareness of, and alignment with, the goals.
“Successfully mapping the SDGs into the activities of BNTF and within national plans produces four areas of improved project implementation for CDB and country partners,” explained Aiken, adding that they include national planning, budgetary programmatic structure, performance evaluation system, and accounting harmonisation.
According to Aiken, preliminary analysis of the assessments has highlighted several areas where communities need skills strengthening to help beneficiaries sustain subprojects in the current cycle.
“We have also seen the need to mainstream gender and climate change considerations, enhance skills such as proposal writing and advocacy, as well as align local interventions to the SDGs,” he said.
He added that similar assessments are expected to continue for the seven other BNTF participating countries (Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname) in the coming weeks.