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Government Launches Youth and Community Transformation Project Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00

On Thursday, November 28th, the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation launched the Youth and Community Transformation (YCT) Project. Under this project, $14.7 million will be spent on construction and rehabilitation of critical community facilities including a new resource centre in the Lake Independence area (the Lake Independence Resource Centre) and the upgrading of the Wilton-Cumberbatch Field. The project is being made possible through a US$5.2 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) that was approved in September of this year. The Government of Belize is providing $4.1 million and the CDB is including a grant of $210,000.

Hon. Mark King, Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, said, “Participating in this launch fills me with hope because this is a significant opportunity to fill some of the gaps that exist in the services available to our youths.” Agencies participating in the project include the Y.M.C.A., Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence, Youth for the Future, National Committee for Families and Children, Yarborough Community Policing Center, Literacy Unit of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, National Sports Council, Restore Belize and the National Institute of Culture and History.

The objective of the project is to reduce vulnerability of children and youth to crime and gang membership in the Collet, Lake I, Pickstock and Port Loyola area of Belize City. The three components are transformation programmes, community infrastructure improvement and adaptive life skills training. Carlos Pol is the Project Coordinator. Pol said, “Along with a few pilot programmes, we will be working with existing youth centers to expand access and coverage for effective developmental programmes that are currently benefiting a number of youths.” The challenge will be to get youths off the streets and into the centers but Pol believes the participating agencies have already shown the ability to do so.

In terms of Community infrastructure, three projects will be executed. The Lake Independence Resource Center will be constructed on the Lake Independence Boulevard that is currently being constructed. It will include sporting facilities and space for education and training. The Wilton Cumberbatch Field will be rehabilitated beyond recognition. The sporting area and play area will be transformed to first class standard. The first project to be executed will be the construction of a fence at the Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence.

There will be investment in literacy and adaptive life skills training at all participating centers. Main features include the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) and the Conflict Resolution and Mediation Workshops. There will be after school programmes for youths and early learners. A programme will also be introduced in which parents will be trained in ways to develop their children’s early literacy.

A team from the Caribbean Development Bank held a workshop with Government officials and representatives from participating agencies on November 28th and 29th. The workshop focused on social context and concerns, disbursement policy and procedures, project implementation and supervision, legal aspects of CDB Financing and procurement guidelines. Pol says the infrastructural projects should commence late next year.

The “Caribbean Development Bank Youth and Community Transformation Project Loan” will be totally disbursed by October 31st of 2017. Government will repay at 2.5% per annum on the outstanding portion of the loan by making 80 equal and consecutive quarterly installments, the first of which will be made ten years after the date of the loan agreement.

The Youth and Community Transformation Project compliments the Community Action for Public Safety (CAPS) Project which is further along. On October 10th, Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, signed contracts with Usher Constructions and BAE Constructions for the construction of resource centers to be located on the Gwen Lizarraga High School compound and  the Youth Hostel Compound. Those contracts amount to $3,298,307.70. CAPS is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank.