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PetroCaribe to the rescue

Published:Sunday | August 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Weber - Ian Allen/Photographer

The PetroCaribe Development Fund is setting aside millions of dollars to provide grant funding to assist marginalised communities across the island.

The board of the fund has decided to provide the grants to support skills training and basic infrastructure work including removing the pit latrines from schools.

"Because the core of the PetroCaribe agreement is really to improve the lives and welfare of the people in the region, particularly the poorest," Sharon Weber, manager of the fund, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week.

"Seven per cent of the surplus generated by the fund goes into the social projects," she added.

Already, some 240 contract jobs have been created for men and women under the PetroCaribe Sanitation Phase II which is supervised by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). The project is valued at just over $97 million.

Under the project, workers are engaged to construct sanitation units - communal bathroom and washroom facilities - in Tivoli Gardens (Mid Town), Central Kingston (Allman Town and Rae Town), Hannah Town, Denham Town and Fletchers Land.

The development features both single and double units for yards with up to 53 residents.

The work is done using the community-based contracting methodology, where community members are trained in how to procure materials, hire labourers, be accountable for the proper execution of contracts and have control of the resources from the community and from the JSIF.

According to Nakia McMorris, the JSIF project manager for the sanitation project, "the committee, which manages the implementation of the project for their community, comprises of leaders from the respective communities who are not getting paid at all. They are all volunteers. It's a wonderful thing they have done for their community".

McMorris added, "the use of community-based contracting really reflects true community development as the process allows communities to manage their own development. They are the ones building up their own community".

That is part of the lure for the project for the PetroCaribe Fund which does not accept requests for funding from political representatives.

Under the PetroCaribe agreement, the Venezuelan government allows Jamaica and other select Caribbean countries to purchase oil and only a certain percentage of the money is required upfront.

The remaining percentage is paid over time under a special financing agreement.

Editors Forum on Petro-Caribbe deal.