KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 21, 2010.- The achievements of the Central Village community under the Inner City Basic Services Project, being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), were again in the spotlight this week as US Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater, US Assistant Treasury Secretary Marisa Lago, and Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Nancy Lee visited project activities.
The visiting Treasury delegation was impressed with the changes brought about through the project, in terms of physical transformation and instilling hopes and aspirations in a community, better known for a high incidence of violence and high unemployment rates.
The visit to Central Village was “the highlight of the trip”, according to Halliday Hart, International Economist at the US Department of the Treasury, who was also part of the delegation. She added that the visit gave insight into “an integrated approach supported by the World Bank in difficult communities to address reducing crime and poverty levels.”
Community Centre to Foster Social and Economic Development
At the first stop in the Central Village tour, the US officials accompanied by World Bank Special Representative Badrul Haque, viewed a community center under construction. The facility will provide recreational and income generating activities for community members, as well as space for some disaster risk reduction and response initiatives of the Jamaica Red Cross. JSIF’s Omar Sweeny pointed out key features of the community center and explained how it would be used by various community groups and stakeholders when completed.
Both Ambassador Bridgewater and the Assistant Treasury Secretary Lago held a lively discussion with representatives of the Central Village Benevolent Society, which articulates community concerns and needs and mobilizes community members to work towards physical, social and economic improvements in Central Village.
Women Work for Peace
The next stop was the beautifully landscaped Peace Garden built by the Little Lane Women’s Club. Club members explained that before the project activities began, relationships between the women were often strained and hostile. The club has helped them learn more about each other and to develop stronger, more positive relationships within the community. The Peace Garden was conceptualized as an oasis in the community where women can meet to discuss issues of importance to them and sort out any differences between individuals.
The women’s club members have received training and now also make craft items to be sold. A number of these were on display at the Peace Garden. Ambassador Bridgewater commended the women on their work and purchased a few items from the club.
During their tour of the community, the visitors were also able to see improvements to the roads and other infrastructure in the area.
Bank Support to Inner City Basic Services
The World Bank provides US$29.3 million to the Inner City Basic Services Project. The project seeks to improve the social, economic and physical conditions in 12 inner city communities by providing access to roads, potable water, sanitation, solid waste management services and community-based services.
- The World Bank-supported Inner City Basic Services Project is transforming the inner-city community of Central Village in Jamaica.
- Community organisations such as the Central Village Benevolent Society and the Little Lane Women’s Club are contributing to the physical, social and economic transformation in the area.
- The Inner City Basic Services Project aims at providing inner-city residents with access to basic infrastructure and social services within their communities.