The Social Investment Fund (SIF) in conjunction with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) today launched the seventh initiative under the Basic Needs Trust Fund scheme to tackle important areas of national development. The program will last for five years and see projects in education, community development and social protection. The CDB’s coordinator Darran Newman Belgrave tells us more.
Darren Belgeave – CDB Coordinator:
It’s a new era. It’s a new chapter in this very important program. We’re bringing a stronger focus on access to improved quality education. You have three course sectors, water and sanitation also, and community access, and drainage. In Belize’s case we’ll be focusing a bit more on quality education, and that’s building more schools, Day-Care Centers, and ensuring that not only are we building schools, but we are ensuring that quality education is being delivered. Also what we’re bringing this time around is a stronger focus on Citizen Security, targeting some of out interventions to youth at-risk. We can’t leave them out. We can’t allow them to be sidelined in their struggle against poverty. And we’ll also be reenforcing gender equality, and disaster and environmental mismanagement.
According to Minister of State for Economic Development Santino Castillo, Belize stands to benefit, but no projects have been identified yet. Government, said Castillo, is moving away from primarily infrastructure needs to address social issues – and that means jobs.
Santino Castillo – Minister of State:
The truth is that the launching of these funds alone will in itself create jobs, in itself will create employment, but to use them directly for employment, I don’t think is the idea of the fund. But in itself, employment will be created.
President of the Mental Health Association Jenny Lovell is one whose organization has benefited from previous BNTF assistance to fund a mental health resource center. She spoke this morning of what they have been able to do with BNTF assistance.