CariSECURE Launched in the USAID Priority Countries of Guyana, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts and NevisJan 23, 2017
“The choice we face is simple, yet compelling. Either we invest in our youth or we face greater numbers remaining unemployed and trapped in a cycle of poverty, crime and under-development.”
Christopher Cushing, Mission Director, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean
Stakeholders in Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia were formally introduced to CariSECURE during a series of inaugural ceremonies to launch USAID’s YES project in late 2016. Addressing the inaugural launch in Saint Lucia on November 14, 2016, Christopher Cushing, USAID Mission Director for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, said YES is a critical part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. Government and CARICOM to address common security concerns. He noted that YES supports prevention efforts against youth crime and violence and helps youth achieve their full potential and assume positive roles in their communities.
“The impact of USAID’s past work with at-risk youth is encouraging and we are pleased to continue to build on years of mutual cooperation between the United States Government and the Governments and people of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean,” Mr. Cushing said.
Stephen O’Malley, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, said UNDP was pleased to be collaborating with USAID over the next five years on issues of youth and citizen security in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. “USAID’s generous support will play a critical role in helping Small Island Development States, like Saint Lucia, make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and respond to the needs of adolescents and youth across the region,” he added.
Following the YES project launches, CariSECURE hosted follow-up inception workshops in the priority countries to gauge the readiness of public institutions for standardized and disaggregated crime data gathering and reporting standards. It also provided opportunities for participants to gain a greater understanding of evidence-based approaches to citizen security, and the use of data to inform policy-making and programming to reduce youth involvement in crime and violence. Ministers of government and senior government officers with responsibility for information management, policy and program design, and implementation and monitoring, were among the key participants at the workshops. They were able to guide the CariSECURE team in preparation for the roll out of project activities in country.
CariSECURE receives full endorsement from Guyana
Speaking at the Guyana Inception Workshop on November 30, 2016, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, applauded the project, noting that CariSECURE and the overall YES project were steps in the right direction. “Though we know plenty, we certainly do not know enough, or nearly enough as to how to prevent growing violence and youth crime in the first place, nor how to stop it [from] happening,” he said.
To address the prevalence of youth involvement in violence and crime across the Caribbean, Minister Ramjattan emphasized the importance of making long-term investments in national research, developing coordinated regional strategies for identifying appropriate interventions, and implementing rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to measure the success of such interventions. With such efforts, he noted, political commitments are needed “to procure the resources, train the brigade, and get them to implement forthwith the recommendations.” Minister Ramjattan also stressed the need for evidence-based initiatives, noting that it involves improving the technical capacity of institutions and public workers to gather and analyze crime data so that the policy-makers in the various territories can be better at advocating what is to be done in a variety of areas linked to youth. Shabnam Mallick, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Guyana, further added that “data is the central ingredient for developing evidence-based policies and community-based programs that focus on prevention.”
In Saint Lucia, the CariSECURE project was lauded as a timely and important initiative, not only for the island, but for the entire Caribbean.
At the Inception Workshop in Saint Lucia on November 22, 2016, Edmund Estephane, Minister in the Ministry for Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment, Youth Development, Sports, Culture and Local Government, commended the efforts of USAID and UNDP for the implementation of the CariSECURE project, and their work throughout the Caribbean region. For Minister Estephane, the greatest challenge faced by the Caribbean region in the twenty-first century is understanding “the power of technology” and using it to confront “the power of population” which is explosively sky-rocketing with a preponderance of youthful, energetic minds and creative imaginations. Throughout the life of the Project, CariSECURE will pilot innovative technologies and tools to strengthen crime data management and citizen security policy-making for youth crime prevention in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. Such efforts will include the deployment of specialized hardware and software to public institutions; the development and roll out of standardized citizen security indicators, protocols and methodologies; and capacity and knowledge building of national counterparts through mentorship and coaching, knowledge sharing workshops, publications and organization of regional study tours.
The CariSECURE Project was welcomed with open arms by the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Speaking at the Saint Kitts Inception Workshop on January 16, 2017, Senator Vincent Byron, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Legal Affairs and Communications, expressed much gratitude to the USAID and UNDP for their partnership in spearheading the CariSECURE project in the Federation. He also stressed the need for such policy intervention, noting that “the issues of youth development, citizen security and juvenile justice are of serious concern to the government of Saint Kitts and Nevis.”
“While we have moved to strengthen the security forces with significant increases in our national budget allocations… there is also a need for a more multi-sectorial approach in dealing with youth criminal activity and vulnerability in our country by having departments, ministries across the board work together to deal with such issues,” he added.
The work of CariSECURE is theoretically grounded in the public health approach to violence prevention which focuses on prevention instead of treating the consequences of injury or disease. This model is comprised of four essential steps which include identifying the problem, identifying risk and protective factors, developing and testing prevention strategies, and ensuring widespread adoption of these strategies. Covering the first three steps of this model, CariSECURE will enhance the technical capacities of public institutions to process data required to define the problem; build the analytical capacity of public workers to identify risk and protective factors of youth involvement in crime and violence using citizen security data; and facilitate decision-making required to develop preventive policies and programs.
At a separate Inception Workshop in Nevis, Deputy Premier Mark Brantley also endorsed the CariSECURE project as a much-needed intervention.
At the Nevis Inception Workshop on January 19, 2017, Mark Brantley, Deputy Premier of Nevis expressed that CariSECURE “is most welcomed at this time when our societies are plague with rising statistics of crime and violence [which] is a major priority for my government.”
“There is a need, I think, for some re-education, and maybe a reorientation in how we think,” he said, noting that throughout the Caribbean region, punitive approaches, which often call for “harsher and harsher punishment”, tend to be the go-to measures when dealing with youth involvement in violence and crime. But to sufficiently address this situation he explained, policy-makers and the overall community need to be re-educated to understand that there is more to addressing such issues from a long-term strategic perspective. He thus emphasized the need for collaborative efforts “to create a paradigm shift regarding the issues of youth crime and violence whilst creating a more peaceful society.”
The Deputy Premier also highlighted the importance of accurate statistical data in developing preventative strategies and policies which target youth risk factors. “The relevance of statistics, I think, cannot be overstated,” he said, noting that it is incredibly difficult to plan policy without having the necessary data to drive it. “Data is going to be critical for law enforcement, but also before we get to law enforcement, it will be critical for those who are working in social services, those who are working in the schools and education, to identify people early and to lead them onto the correct path.”