KINGSTON, Jamaica, February 26, 2022 - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in association with with the Ministry of National Security, has launched an initiative to tackle youth crime and violence, valued at $1.1 billion.
Under the initiative, the Government of Jamaica will embark on a major social investment initiative, aimed at curtailing crime and violence in vulnerable schools and communities across Jamaica. The USAID will provide US$4.2 million and the National Security Ministry will apply US$3 million of its own resources.
The ‘Violence Prevention in Targeted Vulnerable Communities and Schools in Jamaica’ Programme will be spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security, with US$7 million in funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, and Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jamaica, John McIntyre, signed an agreement, on Friday (February 25), formalising the arrangement.
The agreement was also signed by USAID Representative in Jamaica, Jason Fraser, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Courtney Williams, during a ceremony at Jamaica House.
The initiative will place emphasis on enhancing the relationship between at-risk youth and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), particularly the Community Safety and Security Branch.
Consequent on the cross-cutting nature of citizen security, both the Ministries of Education and Youth, and Justice are being included in the engagements.
They will provide support for school-based activities as well as the child diversion and restorative justice programmes.
Programme interventions for the targeted beneficiaries will include opportunities for music, sports and technology programme implementation in schools and communities, enhanced case management and social services for at-risk youth, deepening of the child diversion and restorative justice programmes, and expansion of the safe schools programme.
Dr. Chang welcomed the “signature agreement” which, he noted, is the first such between the Governments of Jamaica and the US.
He said it is intended to take a “completely different path” in addressing the chronic causes of crime and violence in Jamaica.
The Minister said this approach is not intended to criticise previous engagements, “because they were well-intentioned and applied with a significant level of energy”.
Dr. Chang said, however, that having not got all the anticipated outcomes, “we [are looking to] take a new direction”.
Mr. McIntyre, in his remarks, said the signing is significant for both governments, “as it demonstrates our continued partnership and commitment to strengthening the resiliency of vulnerable communities and, thereby, enhancing citizen security”.
He assured that the US Government remains steadfast in its support for Jamaica to create stronger, safer, and more secure communities “as we work together in collaboration to reach the goals outlined in the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica”.
The Plan seeks to position Jamaica to achieve developed country status, en route to being the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.
“The US Government looks forward to the successful implementation of this activity and how it will positively impact the lives of the citizens of Jamaica by enhancing the safety and security of its people,” Mr. McIntyre said.