Twenty rural community groups in two countries were recently assessed by the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through its Pilot Beneficiary Group Capacity and Programme Assessment. This intervention, which targeted 12 communities in Jamaica and eight in Guyana, aimed to identify areas for strengthening the operations of each group to aid communities in pursuing sustainable local development.
“BNTF seeks to build the communities’ capacity to drive their own development while fostering strategic partnerships to achieve their goals. The information from the assessments will help us to identify the areas of greatest need and capacities of beneficiary groups under the BNTF 10th Cycle for further training and support while also using the data to engage development partners around providing support to these groups,” says George Yearwood, Portfolio Manager of the BNTF.
The BNTF is CDB’s main vehicle for pursuing direct poverty reduction in the Region. It responds to needs identified by the most vulnerable communities, focusing on the priority areas of water and sanitation, education and livelihoods enhancement, and access and drainage to improve the quality of life of beneficiaries.
“BNTF puts communities at the heart of its actions. It reaches a large cross-section of poor and vulnerable communities in its engagement,” says Richardo Aiken, Community Development Specialist with the BNTF. “So, it is critical that we have the data to design appropriate programmes and build the capacity of beneficiary groups to better manage their development and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) …even beyond the BNTF 10th cycle.”
One hundred and twenty-six (126) people participated in the assessments which took place at the following communities in Jamaica:
- Mount Salem Infant School in St. James
- Top Quarter Road in Clarendon
- Trelawny Lowe River Primary, Mendez Town, Trelawny
- Mount Moriah Primary, St. Ann
- Kendal Primary School, Hanover
- Grange Hill Primary School, Westmoreland
- Georgia Road, St. Thomas
- Albion Primary School, Manchester
- Frankfield Primary School, Manchester
- Old Harbour Primary School, St. Catherine
- Pisgah Primary School, St. Elizabeth
In Guyana, seventy people participated in the assessments that were done in Black Bush Polder in Region 6, Surama and Nappi in Region 9, Onderneeming, Cotton Field, Anna Regina, Mashabo and Mainstay in Region 2. The assessments for both countries were done from late February to mid-March 2023.
The assessments were conducted in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the BNTF Implementing Agency, Ministry of Finance, Guyana using the adaptive and innovative online Kobo Toolbox data collection software. The assessments looked at the capacity of community groups to apply for and implement projects as well as to effectively manage their local groups. It identified the strengths and weaknesses of the diverse groups with the aim of developing a capacity-building plan. As BNTF’s programme strongly aligns with the SDGs the assessments also incorporated community awareness of and alignment with the Goals.
“Successfully mapping the SDGs into the activities of BNTF and within national plans produces four areas of improved project implementation for CDB and country partners,” explained Aiken. “These are: 1) national planning, 2) budgetary programmatic structure, 3) performance evaluation system, and 4) accounting harmonisation.”
According to Aiken, preliminary analysis of the assessments so far has highlighted several areas where communities need skills strengthening to help the BNTF beneficiaries in its current funding cycle sustain sub-projects.
“We have also seen the need to mainstream gender and climate change considerations, enhance skills such as proposal writing and advocacy as well as aligning local interventions to the SDGs,” he said.
He added that similar assessments are expected to continue for the seven other BNTF participating countries (Belize, Dominica Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname) in the coming weeks.