Saint Lucia’s Youth to Benefit from Three New U.S. Government Programs
On February 24, as part of its Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the United States Government launched three new programs in Saint Lucia. The programs, funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over the next five years, will advance citizen security in the region. The programs- Youth Resilience, Inclusion, and Empowerment (Y-RIE), Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security 2.0 (CariSECURE 2.0), and Opportunities to Advance and Support Youth for Success (OASYS) will create a safer, more prosperous and resilient Caribbean region.
About the programs
The Y-RIE Program will partner with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports to strengthen both national and subnational government-provided social services by addressing service accessibility and the capability of service providers. Y-RIE will also improve the learning outcomes for youth, prepare them for workforce opportunities, facilitate youth connection to professional development opportunities and strengthen community and family systems that play a critical role in the lives of vulnerable youth.
CariSECURE 2.0, implemented by UNDP and working in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, will provide resources and technical assistance to improve the capacity of Saint Lucia’s state institutions to identify, screen, investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases.
OASYS, implemented by the OECS Commission, and working in close partnership with the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, will increase diversion of youth away from custodial sentences where appropriate, support the use of evidence-based diagnoses and treatment in rehabilitation and diversion, and facilitate the reintegration of youth into civil society after leaving rehabilitation facilities.
At the launch, hosted at the Harbor Club Hotel in Rodney Bay, United States Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Linda Taglialatela committed the support of the U.S. Government. The Ambassador noted that the “United States Government will continue to invest in the youth economy and the empowerment of Saint Lucia’s young people, as they are key to the continued development of the country and of the entire Caribbean.”
USAID/Eastern and Southern Caribbean’s Regional Representative Sara Walter highlighted the vital importance of partnership in fulfilling the objectives for these three projects and commended the Ministers and their teams for their commitment to partner with the implementing agencies.
In her remarks, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte underscored the importance of data and evidence in developing successful policies, programs and interventions and outlined the importance of prevention, while recognizing that her Ministry is responsible for treating individuals who have already committed acts of crime or violence. She highlighted that the country has “…about 544 inmates right now, and only 14 of them are female, so when we target youth, we know what direction we have to go to address the situation.” She indicated that “The Prime Minister has given the directive to establish a Unit called Youth at Risk…primarily responsible for coordinating all activities relating to young persons from the different government agencies to prevent them from crossing the line.”
Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Joachim Henry championed the support USAID continues to provide, highlighting that “…the Government of Saint Lucia believes in the support, the development of the island’s human capital as part of a national development thrust.” Minister Henry called on all stakeholders to “…recognize and take cognizance and advantage of the synergistic opportunities presented within the project implementation environment.” He urged “…recognition of the critical role of non-state actors – the non-government organizations, community-based organizations as well as faith-based organizations, the private sector and others…and coordination of activities.”
In the remarks of Hon. Kenson Casimir, Minister of Youth Development, delivered by Deputy Permanent Secretary Mary Wilfred, the Ministry underscored the importance of empirical data to shape the youth development process in a scientific manner. She also remarked that Y-RIE was designed to truly recognize the youth of Saint Lucia as the assets that they are, by helping to bring life to the Ministry of Youth Development’s vision for every young person to be respected and valued. On behalf of the Minister and his staff, Ms. Wilfred reiterated “commitment to the Y-RIE Program…and pledged support to ensure that our young people are empowered to become architects of peace in the spaces they occupy to contribute to sustainability.” She indicated that the Ministry will be steadfast in ensuring that the voices of young people are recognized in all the programs.
The launch event was interspersed with entertainment provided by young, talented Saint Lucians- poet Eva Stanislaus, musician Yannick James from Gros Islet, and a vibrant chorus from Anse La Raye’s Youth on Fire Ministries.