Violent halt - Flare-ups put brakes on Zika fight; infrastructural projects
A major clean-up exercise to rid communities of mosquito breeding sites to prevent the spread of the Zika virus has been stalled, at least for now, because of the flare-up of violence in a number of targeted communities.
The clean-up activities were planned by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Ministry of Health.
Up to September 2, the Ministry of Health had reported that in total, it had confirmed that 92 persons, inclusive of pregnant women, were infected with ZIKV, while 7,078 notifications of the disease had been received.
Not only has the scourge of violence put on hold this crucial mosquito-control exercise, but the JSIF is reporting that several critical social intervention and infrastructural projects managed by the fund in some 30 communities islandwide have also been affected by violence in communities across the island.
Managing Director of the JSIF Omar Sweeney made an impassioned plea yesterday to residents of communities plagued by violence to cooperate with the security forces to ease tensions in these areas so that the projects can be implemented.
He said that the fund has had challenges in carrying out its programmes in western Jamaica, adding that there are worrying signs that the violence is spreading to other communities. "Even when you go peri-urban and even to the rural areas, there is a ripple effect," he pointed out.
"The point that we are making here is that there is talk of this hidden effect that we are facing when we have these flare-ups because while we are doing crime prevention and trying to deal with the wrongdoers, the reality is that good-standing citizens are not receiving the essential government services that they need to receive to carry out their business," he said.
The JSIF has an intensive programme in 18 communities across seven parishes through its Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP).
Under the ICDP, the fund carries out various training programmes for at-risk-youth. It conducts environmental management, recycling, and infrastructure programmes as well as community fairs.
"It is becoming increasingly more difficult to execute these programmes because it works on timing, on people coming out, and freedom of movement," Sweeney asserted.
Sweeney also highlighted a planned community fair for Russia in Westmoreland on Friday but noted that the event had to be postponed because of a recent flare-up of violence in the community. The community fair was planned in conjunction with the Jamaica Public Service, the Registrar General's Department, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, and Jamaica AIDS Support.
The JSIF website identified ICDP projects in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and several communities in Montego Bay such as Retirement, Granville, Barrett Town, and Anchovy.
"Our appeal is for the residents to cooperate with the police force and help us to continue to execute the programmes so that essentially, people can receive the benefits of the programme."
LIST OF 18 ICDP COMMUNITIES WITH JSIF PROGRAMMES
Clarendon York Town, Treadlight, Curatoe Hill/
Kingston Hannah Town, Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens
St Andrew Majesty Gardens, Wilton Gardens/Rema,
Maxfield Park, Greenwich Town/Newport
West, Rose Town
St Ann Steer Town
St Catherine Spanish Town Central (Ellerslie Pen)
St James Retirement, Anchovy, Barrett Town, Granville