Tuesday, January 31, 2006 

Your guidance and experience is needed: a civil society consultation on universal access to treatment.

This is an email-based consultation with civil society organisations and networks to provide direct input into a Global Steering Committee on Universal Access (see below). All feedback should be sent to the email universalaccess@icaso.org .

In 2005 the G8 and UN Member States committed to "developing and implementing a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care with the aim of coming as close as possible to the goal of universal access to treatment by 2010 for all those who need it, including through increased resources..(sic)".

Based on this commitment, a global initiative on ‘Scaling Up Towards Universal Access’ has been established. UNAIDS states that the process aims to be driven by rapid, inclusive and country-owned processes for setting country-specific goals and targets to be achieved by 2010. It will involve country and regional consultations to identify priorities, opportunities and obstacles to universal access (see note at end).

A Global Steering Committee, co-chaired by UNAIDS and the UK government, has been established to initiate the process, explore global-level solutions to common obstacles, and compile country and regional inputs into a global framework for consideration by the 2006 UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (see the following website for more information http://www.unaids.org/en/in+focus/topic+areas/universal+access.asp).

The ultimate aim is to come up with action plans and clear commitments to address obstacles to universal access at the country, regional and global levels.

There are eight civil society representatives who were invited by UNAIDS to participate in the Global Steering Committee. They are:

* Elizabeth Mataka, ZNAN, Zambia
* Gregg Gonsalves, GMHC, US
* Rodrigo Pascal, GNP+, Chile
* Susan Chong, APCASO, Malaysia
* Bob Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis, Switzerland
* Raminta Stuikyte, CEE-HRN, Lithuania
* Lillian Mworeko, ICW, Uganda
* Anandi Yuvaraj, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, India

These civil society representatives are looking for your critical guidance and input into this process to ensure that your issues are addressed directly in the Global Steering Committee.

This email consultation is being run by ICASO as part of support being provided to these representatives.

The representatives are looking for your guidance and input based on the following key questions:

1. There is no agreed understanding of what is meant by universal access to prevention, treatment and care (e.g.100% access to all, access to all those that need services). What do you understand universal access to mean in your country?

2. What are the key barriers to scaling up responses to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care to achieve universal access in your country by 2010? How can these be overcome?

3. Specifically, what kinds of actions are required, and by whom, in your country to overcome the barriers to addressing the following:
a) Financing and macroeconomic constraints (e.g., TRIPS, patents, budget ceilings);
b) Human resource capacity and health and social service systems constraints;
c) Access to affordable commodities and low-cost technologies (e.g., condoms, ARVs, clean needles);
d) Human rights violations, stigma and discrimination, and lack of equity (including gender).

4. What are the 5 key targets (quantity and quality) that need to be set to reach universal access to prevention, treatment and care in your country by 2010? (e.g., xxx,xxx people on ARV therapy, $x million committed to AIDS by government, compulsory license secured, civil society included in coordinating authorities).

Wherever possible, for each question please provide short descriptions of an actual experience or problem and how it was or could be overcome, and send by email any supporting materials, reports or policy statements that help support your responses to the questions above.

All feedback should be sent to the email universalaccess@icaso.org by Monday 30th January 2006.

Additional note on important dates:

Country and Regional Consultations: December 2005 - March 2006 (you should contact the UNAIDS country and regional offices for details of these consultations

9-10 January 2006: First Global Steering Committee meeting
21-22 February 2006: Second Global Steering Committee meeting
27-28 March 2006: Third Global Steering Committee meeting
31 May - 2 June 2006: UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS

For more information, please contact: universalaccess@icaso.org


UNDP - Millennium Development Goals

Development divides and digital bridges: why ICT is key for achieving the MDGs, by Mr. Shoji Nishimoto and Ms. Radhika Lal

"While the need for pro-poor policies and increased development finance to scale-up interventions and social and physical infrastructure have been acknowledged as being essential for achieving these objectives, the important role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in facilitating a more effective and transparent use of resources, scaling-up of services, and in catalyzing learning, investment and trade, have not always been factored into MDG-related strategies and there are multiple gains to be achieved from doing so."


COHA Memorandum to the Press

PetroCaribe: Chávez’s Venturesome Solution to the Caribbean Oil Crisis and Trinidad’s Patrick Manning and Barbados’ Owen Arthur’s Ungracious Riposte

• Chávez’s PetroCaribe is the best available solution to the Caribbean’s energy crisis.

• PetroCaribe will propel public sector development of energy infrastructure and promote social programs to help the region.

• 13 out of 15 CARICOM members have signed on, but Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago stubbornly refuse, for mean-spirited, rather than high-minded, reasons.

The unremitting surging global price of oil has crippled the economies of many small, poor nations, and the tourism-dependent Caribbean countries are among the most vulnerable. Into this bleak picture has emerged a possible savior in the person of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his principled PetroCaribe plan.

The arrangement, which was signed with 15 countries last September, promises discounted oil and wide reaching social components. Yet this act of generosity has not gone smoothly, as controversy over the proposal has revealed nasty rifts within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), primarily involving Trinidad and Tobago’s unflinching and self-interested opposition to the proposal, and Barbados’ equally muscular resistance.

Nonetheless, whatever objections have been raised by these two nations, PetroCaribe is the best offer on the table, and for the 13 CARICOM governments (along with Cuba and the Dominican Republic) that have accepted it, this could prove to be the best exit from their current misery.

Structure of the Deal
As famed Caribbean reporter Tony Best clearly establishes in the January 24, 2006, issue of Carib News, PetroCaribe does not offer cheap oil, as Venezuela’s OPEC obligations prohibit sales at below market value. Instead, its innovative approach allows area countries to defer part of the payment.

The deal functions by a means of a discount whereby contracting countries are required to pay a percentage of the market price, with the remaining cost converted into long term, low interest loans. When market prices rise above US$50 per gallon, as they are now, participating countries will receive a 40 percent discount that will accrue as a 25-year, 1 percent interest loan. If prices rise above US$100, this discount will rise to 50 percent.

Member countries’ debt may be partially amortized by means of paying in goods and services, like Venezuela’s existing arrangement with Cuba. That program is popularly known as “doctors for oil,” in which Cuba sends over ten thousand doctors, nurses, and dentists to provide free health care in clinics in Venezuela’s poorest communities, in exchange for 90,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil per day.

Under the agreement, Venezuela will cover shipping costs, aid in the development of distribution infrastructure and storage sites, contribute to the formation of state-controlled facilities, and provide fuel-efficient systems in member countries. The one catch is PetroCaribe will only deal with a state controlled entity, meaning that the PetroCaribe agreement is based on eliminating all intermediaries. “We're not talking about discounts...We're talking about financial facilities, direct deliveries of products, [and] infrastructure,” said Energy and Petroleum Minister and President of PDVSA, Rafael Ramírez; the goal is to cut down on unnecessary, middlemen costs.

This means that existing U.S. area distributors, Shell and Texaco, would be excluded from purchasing subsidized Venezuelan oil under the envisaged program. In effect, participating CARICOM countries will be edged in the direction of de-privatizing their oil industry infrastructure in favor of setting up state-guided facilities. Distribution will be managed by PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of PDVSA, which will be set up to handle shipment and delivery of the crude, although questions regarding the establishment of regional refining capacity remain.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, PDVSA has refining facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands (495,000 barrels-per-day), as well as a 320,000 barrels-per-day facility in the Netherlands Antilles, while other major refineries can be found in Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba. The Jamaican government, spurred by PetroCaribe, has moved forward on a plan to build a refinery on that island as well.

Bonanza from Heaven
Additionally, Venezuela has created a $60 million fund for social projects on Jamaica. For some island economies, PetroCaribe is seen as a bonanza from heaven. Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has enthused that, “The current crippling impact of continually rising energy costs on our fragile economies is a current case in point.

Venezuela’s offer of stable fuel supplies on concessionary terms through the PetroCaribe initiative is therefore a timely – and welcome – intervention for member countries of the Caribbean Community.” In a like-minded mood, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada notes that his country will be able to accrue a total savings of between $10-15 million annually as a result of the Venezuelan deal.

Who’s in, Who’s Out
Initially, PetroCaribe’s was offered to the all 15 CARICOM member countries, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent, the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Barbados. However the latter two have quite directly declined the offer. Cuba and the Dominican Republic, who already have existing agreements with Venezuela, are also included in the plan.

Haiti has been at the margins of the deal, as significant controversy revolves around that country’s recent political history. At first, Haiti was not offered inclusion in the PetroCaribe arrangement, as Chávez does not recognize the U.S.-installed controversial Latortue interim government. However, as of early October 2005, Venezuela announced the possibility of Haiti’s participation due to pressure coming from a Haitian interest group, the “Collective to Mobilize against the High Cost of Living,” which Chávez happens to hold in high esteem. As a result, Latortue was allowed to apply for membership in PetroCaribe in November, which would make Haiti the latest country to join, if voted upon.

However, PetroCaribe will not be launched in Haiti until after elections are held and the installation of a new administration in Port-au-Prince. With elections now being postponed to Feb. 7, 2006, for the fourth time since last November, the launch of PetroCaribe’s operations in Haiti may remain relatively remote.

Sitting it Out
Barbados’ decision not to join the other CARICOM nations in signing on to PetroCaribe is based on a smattering of valid reasons and certainly what appears to be an ample dose of exported Washington-influenced paranoia. Barbados produces some oil – although far less than it consumes – and has an existing arrangement with Trinidad and Tobago to refine that oil. Maintaining this refinery relationship, as Barbados’ government has indicated that it felt Venezuela was reluctant to refine the island’s crude, has contributed to Bridgetown’s opposition to PetroCaribe.

Furthermore, the deal between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago includes a preferential supply agreement, and Barbados claims that any changes to the existing supply chain are only likely to create complications.But such factors aside, it is no secret that Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been a loyal liegeman of President Bush and his litany of other objections to the deal seem to be born out of contrivances rather than on solid grounds, more the results of a man hunting for an excuse rather than one deferring to irresistible logic.

These include his thesis that PetroCaribe will lead to serious debt problems, which seems somewhat silly considering that the region currently must borrow extensively to cover its needs, and that the PetroCaribe loans are based on highly flexible and attractive repayment terms.

Self-Interested Opposition
Trinidad and Tobago, a member of CARICOM whose approximately 150,000 barrel-per-day oil industry and major refining capacity has made the island wealthy, was a logical choice to supply the region with subsidized petroleum. But Port-of-Spain’s oil strategy is partially restricted by its existing international commitments – its industry is closely tied to U.S. oil operations – making options for discounting oil prices to CARICOM countries somewhat limited. Indeed it has always hesitated to extend discounts to its less-fortunate neighbors – a fact which the Caribbean has not overlooked.

Yet despite his unwillingness to step up and help his fellow Caribbean islanders, Prime Minister Manning has continually blasted the PetroCaribe agreement, cautioning that PetroCaribe could force the islands into an agreement which will betroth them to a sole-provider situation, perhaps inexorably locking to future problems.

More stridently, Manning also has blustered that if the region walks away from its current arrangements with him (currently Trinidad and Tobago supplies the region with 60,000 barrels-per-day) and reorganizes its oil sectors under PetroCaribe, his country will look elsewhere for permanent buyers and that in the future the rest of the Caribbean may not be able to count on his country’s previously committed oil supply. Manning spitefully warns that, “it is a question of cutting your own throat if you are not careful.”

This undeniable self-interest – the same attitude that he and Arthur more often than not displayed in their desire to harmonize their position to one which would cause Washington no grief – has been publicly criticized by at least one regional leader, and by several more, privately. Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia asserts that "Rather than Trinidad and Tobago suggesting that they are incapable, or that they are unable to do anything about the high prices we are forced to pay, they should rethink that position...”

He, of course, believes that Trinidad and Tobago, in fact, is quite capable of providing some formula that could ease the effects of record high oil prices in the Caribbean, but they are not showing any desire or initiative. Instead, fellow `CARICOM members, without any alternative options being placed on the table by Trinidad and Tobago, may have little choice but to go along with PetroCaribe.

The Best Thing Going
PetroCaribe is not without flaws and logistical hang-ups, yet it remains the most concrete proposal on the table to alleviate the region’s suffering. Chávez’s intention is patently not self interest or glorification, as he is not exactly aiding a region with significant global diplomatic or economic clout.

Furthermore, objections to the proposal – specifically by Trinidad and Tobago – are not based on well-reasoned arguments, but rather on stubborn selfishness and shameless servility to Washington.These pitiful motives are often a fact of life when it comes to Arthur – certainly so when it has come to pushing the hapless and inept interim government of Gerard Latortue on the Haitian people at Washington’s behest.

Can Arthur’s heartless Haiti policy in any way be compared to that of the statesmanship of his predecessor Erskine Sandiford who trivializes Arthur by his stature? And Trinidad’s Manning has likewise unwaveringly worked to override moral objectors within CARICOM and extend official recognition to the Latortue regime, going so far as to meet with the interim leader last week in Bridgetown.

In regards to PetroCaribe, Manning’s flat refusal to offer any sort of discount to his neighbors should be a cause for embarrassment, and his haughty threats against those who do accept Chávez’s largesse are shameful at best. PetroCaribe will offer 15 islands the best hope for riding out the energy crisis, and cannot be repudiated as some regional naysayers would very much like to see happen.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Kaia Lai, 2006
January 31, 2006

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org
; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email coha@coha.org


Learning to listen: technology and poor communities

Waleed al-Shobakky
20 January 2006
Source: SciDev.Net

Bernadine Dias, a Sri Lankan-born scientist based at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), United States, admits she "wears many hats". Her main focus is robotics, but she also devotes a lot of time promoting innovative ways of using technology in poor communities.

In 2004, Dias founded an initiative called TechBridgeWorld to forge collaborations between CMU and developing communities around the world, including poor neighbourhoods in the United States.

Dias believes this kind of relationship benefits both partners: university staff and students learn about the real needs of the world's poor, while communities gain skills and access to technology.
Ongoing TechBridgeWorld projects are using technology to improve healthcare in Haiti and to teach English in Ghana.

And when Dias moved to Qatar last year to teach in the robotics department of 'CMU-Q', her university's recently launched local branch, she took TechBridgeWorld with her.

As well as introducing the initiative to Qatar, Dias plans to use the country as a springboard to expand into developing communities in Asia and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Working on robotics at the Qatar branch of CMU, says Dias, is an attempt to rectify what she sees as a common misconception: the tendency for consultants and experts to assume that technology that works in the West will also work well for communities elsewhere. From personal experience, Dias believes the notion is misguided.

"Because I grew up in Sri Lanka, I know about experts who have flown in and stayed at five-star hotels for a month, used all the money and come up with solutions that had no relevance at all," she told Gulf Times, a Qatari newspaper, in September 2005.

Dias says this mindset leads to Western products, developed to meet the needs of "a sliver of the world's population", being shipped to communities in developing countries who have not been asked about what they need.

Communicate and collaborate

Dias stresses two reasons why it is important to listen to local communities and develop partnerships with non-governmental organisations. "First, which is obvious, you can't design a solution without grasping the problem — in technology or in any other discipline," she says.

"Secondly, several developing communities have been around for so long, and they managed to live in synch with their environments. We need to learn more about this, not only when designing technology solutions for these communities, but for designing technology solutions in general."

One of TechBridgeWorld's early efforts that highlighted the importance and feasibility of getting local institutions involved was a pilot project in Ghana's capital, Accra. One of Dias's students, Ayorkor Mills-Tettey, went there to see how schoolchildren in poor neighbourhoods would respond to and interact with an automated, English-language, reading tutor developed at CMU. The computer programme works by correcting students reading stories aloud in English if they mispronounce words.

Ghana-born Mills-Tettey needed little more than a laptop and eight headsets. In Accra, she quickly found an Internet café willing to let a group of students use its computers for about an hour a week for the project. She then visited the nearest school and offered to set the project up there. Returning the following day, she found that the head teacher had arranged everything: from choosing students to take part, and organising their consent forms, to arranging a bus to transport them to the café.

"It was amazing," recalls Dias. "All the roadblocks that people said we were going to face were just gone."

Most of the children had never touched a computer before, yet learned to use the programme in 15 minutes. They grasped it not by sitting through the accompanying tutorial but when Mills-Tetty read it out to them. Her familiar accent and the English translations of Ghanaian folk stories that she and her CMU colleagues had programmed into the automated tutor served her well.

"The students loved it, and people were so excited. Here was a new way of getting students interested in reading English, a new way to alleviate the problem of not having enough well-trained teachers," says Dias. TechBridgeWorld is now collaborating with a Ghanaian non-governmental organisation to run the same project, but with more students and for six months, to get more concrete results.

Dias thinks the project could address the problem of the lack of well-trained English teachers in the Middle East too, pointing out that for the project to succeed, whenever it is put to work for a new community, attention should be paid to the delicate differences that distinguish communities, even in the same region.

Moving mountains
Healthcare is another focus for TechBridgeWorld, which is exploring a low-cost project to digitally connect well-equipped hospitals in cities to distant, rural clinics that lack resources. The Albert Schweitzer hospital in Deschappelles, Haiti, is one example.

Connecting the hospital to health centres scattered in mountains eight hours away, could save villagers from having to make daunting and laborious journeys to see a doctor. Digital photos of patients in rural clinics would be sent over the Internet to better-trained physicians in the main hospital, who could then decide whether a disease is benign or serious and whether it warrants quick action.

"We would not need these digital cameras to work 24 hours per day, just one or two hours daily to take all the photos for accurate diagnosis," says Dias.

Dias, who witnessed the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami while visiting family in Sri Lanka in 2004, is also working on disaster relief, with the aim of developing robot-human rescue teams. Yet with all her projects and plans, Dias believes technology has a long way to go before it can really deliver to poor communities.

"Technology has yet to mature. It's still unreliable," she says, giving the example of computer software that performs differently depending on which operating system the computer uses. She believes that it is only when technology is reasonably reliable that we can use it more courageously in risky endeavours such as landmine detection. "We're starting to witness signs of maturity, though," she adds.

Dias also thinks that awareness is slowly growing of the need for technology providers, particularly multinational companies, to encourage people in poor communities to become financially independent entrepreneurs, not simply consumers or charity-dependent people caught up in cycles of need.

The Indian professor C.K. Prahalad, a management guru at the US-based University of Michigan, led the call for change in his 2004 book Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The book received much praise from Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and, through the Gates Foundation, a major supporter of science and technology for development.

Dias, too, is enthusiastic. For her, the core of the book's importance is that it invites the business sector to recognise what Prahalad calls "markets at the bottom of the pyramid", and build new products accordingly.

Dias believes that designing technological products specifically tailored to the needs of poor communities is no mean feat. It takes a great deal of creativity and discipline — listening to what communities need.

However, some companies have taken a simpler route to make their products more accessible. In September 2004, Microsoft released in Thailand a low-price, 'watered down' version of its Windows operating system, named Starter Edition.

Generally, the product was not praised by analysts and commentators, but Dias thinks this is not what matters ultimately: "it all comes down to what people in these communities want and can use. If these versions of products are useful to a community, and that community plans to make good use of it, then it is great that they are able to get access to the products... You don't always need the most hi-tech or expensive solutions."

Under the umbrella of TechBridgeWorld, two new courses – both focused on technology consulting for communities, particularly poor ones – will be introduced to undergraduate students at CMU-Q's school of computer science.

As ever, they uphold Dias's belief in mutuality when it comes to encounters between the West and the developing world. As she says: "The most important thing students and faculty walk away with from these courses is the realisation that you can't be an expert on everything, and that you need to listen to, and learn from, your partners in local communities."

Related links:
CMU's Medical Robotics Technology Center (MRTC)
CMU's Medical Robotics and Computer-Assisted Surgery
Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti


Governance and Corruption in Public Health Care Systems
-Working Paper 78

Download (PDF, 517 KB)

Maureen Lewis

What factors affect health care delivery in the developing world? Anecdotal evidence of lives cut tragically short and the loss of productivity due to avoidable diseases is an area of salient concern in global health and international development. This working paper looks at factual evidence to describe the main challenges facing health care delivery in developing countries, including absenteeism, corruption, informal payments, and mismanagement. The author concludes that good governance is important in ensuring effective health care delivery, and that returns to investments in health are low where governance issues are not addressed.

© 2005 Center for Global Development.


Caribbean Hotel Association
Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism launches green globe scheme to protect Caribbean`s environment
Tuesday, January 31, 2006

To help consumers, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) has published a webpage that lists properties in the region, responsible performers that have walked the talk and obtained the demanding Green Globe 21 certification. The “Green Globe page” is available from CAST’s website

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill only time.” This adage is well-know to hikers and nature lovers, and it is starting to catch on with other travelers.

While recycling and no-littering are becoming habits at home, thanks to widespread information campaigns, environmentally-conscious visitors can still have a hard time finding options that are environmentally and socially responsible when traveling.

The GREEN GLOBE 21 Company Standard is a benchmarking and certification standard designed for businesses in 25 different sectors of the travel and tourism industry e.g. accommodations, administrative offices, airlines, airports, attractions, cruise vessels, golf courses, restaurants, vehicle rentals, tour operators etc.

The Standard requires an operation to first establish a baseline level of performance or Benchmark for environmental and socially responsible performance.

To be considered environmentally and socially responsible, businesses must meet all of the requirements of the GG21 Standard and be audited before becoming certified and earning the right to display the GREEN GLOBE logo with the tick.

CAST is the Alliance Partner for the Green Globe 21 program in the Caribbean. The region leads the world, with more than 50% of all properties certified by GG21 globally. Certified properties in the Caribbean include:

Sandals Antigua Resort
Curtain Bluff Resort
Long Bay Hotel

Amsterdam Manor Beach
Bucuti Beach Resort Aruba
Machebo Beach Resort
La Cabana All Suites Resort
Costa Linda Beach Resort

Sandals Royal Bahamian

Allamanda Beach Hotel
Almond Beach Club & Spa
Almond Beach Village
Bougainvillea Beach Resort
Hotel Pom Marine

3 Rivers Eco-Resort
Fort Young Hotel
Tamarind Tree Hotel and Restaurant

Dominican Republic
Canoa Coral by Hilton
Viva Dominicus Beach
Viva Dominicus Palace
Sunscape Casa del Mar

Spice Island Beach Resort

Beaches Boscobel Resort
Beaches Negril
Beaches Sandy Bay
Breezes Runaway Bay
Chukka Caribbean Adventures
Couples Negril
Couples Ocho Rios Limited
Couples Swept Away Negril
Hedonism III
Jamaica Inn
Negril Gardens Resort
Round Hill Hotel & Villas
Royal Plantation Spa & Golf Resort
Runaway Bay Heart Hotel
Sandals Dunn’s River Golf
Sandals Inn
Sandals Montego Bay
Sandals Negril Beach Resort
Sandals Ocho Rios Resort
Sandals Royal Caribbean

Riviera Maya – Mexican Caribbean
Viva Wyndham Azteca Resort

Netherlands Antilles
Lions Dive & Beach Resort

St Kitts & Nevis
Ocean Terrace Inn

St Lucia
Bay Gardens Hotel
Sandals Halcyon St Lucia
Sandals St Lucia Golf
Sandals Grande

Turks & Caicos
Beaches Turks & Caicos

Theodore Koumelis - Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Posted on Tue, Jan. 31, 2006

Trade deal good news for region


It hasn't happened often in recent years, but some good economic news is now coming out of the Caribbean. On Jan. 23, the leaders of six Caribbean nations -- Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago -- gathered in Kingston, Jamaica, to launch a common market, a goal that has taken more than three decades to accomplish.

After several years of bad news -- including hurricanes, security concerns, migration surges and political instability in Haiti -- the prospects for 2006 are brighter, particularly as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the Dominican Republic, is fully implemented.

As any economist will tell you, common markets are not perfect. Nonetheless, by agreeing formally to link their economic futures together in this manner, the six Caribbean countries party to the agreement will be better able to leverage their position to attract more and better foreign investment than they would as individual countries.

As a common market they will ensure several trade benefits, including more efficient and effective intra-regional movement of goods and services; a uniform tariff on products imported from other countries that will simplify the ability to do business in the Caribbean; free movement of capital so that money can be moved from one island to another without transaction charges; and a common trade policy leading to a stronger voice in trade negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

In addition, unlike other hemispheric agreements, under the agreement signed today labor will be free to move throughout the member countries allowing for workers to travel wherever they are needed without lengthy bureaucratic procedures and permits, thus increasing efficiency and regional competitiveness.

Economically, the six signatories are also agreeing to coordinate and converge macroeconomic policies; harmonize foreign-investment policy; and adopt measures to acquire, develop and transfer technology, a critical resource for a region without many other development options beyond tourism and, for some, like Trinidad and Tobago, energy. Finance ministries will also coordinate exchange-rate and interest-rate policies as well as the commercial-banking market.

Pragmatic steps

Such regional economic integration has been on the drawing board for some time. Indeed, those countries within CARICOM that have not signed on to the agreement will continue to be associated with the group as they work to join fully at a later date, thus, leaving the door open to a true pan-regional economic association.

Beyond the Caribbean Basin, 2006 will be a year of economic and political transition for the entire Western Hemisphere. There are elections in Haiti and in numerous other countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru -- to say nothing of elections that have already occurred in Bolivia, Chile and elsewhere -- as well as the ongoing negotiations for a freer-trade agreement between the United States and the Andean region. So the shape of the hemisphere is in flux.

Not waiting around, particularly as FTAA negotiations are on hold, Caribbean nations are proactively taking pragmatic steps to compete as best they can in the global economy.

By pushing aside historic rivalries and apprehensions to work more closely together, leaders from these six countries have shown that they understand that they, too, must work to integrate their economies in order to compete.

Hopefully this move toward economic integration, by some of the most vulnerable of our hemisphere's economies, will better prepare the Caribbean Basin for integration through the FTAA. After all, CARICOM started the current integration process on July 4, 1973, and it has only been through perseverance that six of its members have now formalized greater economic collaboration.

With luck and additional perseverance, someday the same thing might be said about the FTAA.
Luis Pinto is a director of the Council of the Americas in Washington, where he follows Caribbean Basin issues.

Miami Herald
Copyright 2006 Knight Ridder All Rights Reserved


Jamaican government committed to promoting human rights, says Governor General


KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke, has said that the government was committed to a foreign policy that promoted international peace, security, human rights, justice and development.

Sir Howard, who was speaking to members of the diplomatic corps at a dinner held in their honour last week, also noted the state’s commitment to a multilateral system of which the art and practice of diplomacy was central.

He further called on the diplomats “to confront the global challenges that are before us as we move through the 21st century…not with pessimism and fear, but with hope and optimism in the intrinsic good of humankind.”

Set to demit office next month after serving more than 15 years as the country’s head of state, Sir Howard said he found his years of service to be very rewarding.

“One of the particular pleasures that Lady (Ivy) Cooke and I have had during my tenure as Governor General has been the opportunity afforded us of meeting members of the diplomatic corps,” he said.

Replying on behalf of the diplomats, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, Dennis Francis expressed gratitude to the Jamaican government and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in particular.

He said that Jamaica’s foreign policy was articulated in a most credible manner by a team of professionals within the Foreign Ministry led by Ministers K.D. Knight and Delano Franklyn, and under the astute political direction of Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson.

“The corps has nothing but high regard and appreciation for the staff at all levels of the Ministry, who without failure, make themselves accessible to us, and adopt a supportive posture in advancing the work of our respective missions and indeed, that of the corps as a whole,” the High Commissioner said.

Mr. Francis also expressed thanks to the Governor General and his wife for the hospitality and warmth extended to the diplomatic corps, whenever they visited King’s House.

The diplomatic dinner formed part of activities to mark the eight annual Diplomatic Week.
Jamaica enjoys diplomatic relations with a total of 142 countries, 74 of which have accredited representatives, 29 being resident in the island.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved


China donates US$20,000 to Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery


KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The negotiating efforts of the region have been boosted with a US$20,000 donation to the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) by the Chinese government.

Director General of the CRNM, Ambassador Bernal, who received the cheque last week from China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Zhao Zhenyu during a courtesy call at the embassy in Kingston, said that the donation would assist the agency as it moved into more complex and detailed negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Union, for an economic partnership agreement.

“I think this donation is important because it will assist us at this time but also it is a symbol of a deepening relationship between Jamaica and the Caribbean,” he said, noting that the benefits from the negotiations would redound to the entire region.

In reference to the Chinese proverb that says ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,’ Ambassador Bernal said, “Today we make the first step and I am sure we are going to journey together as we try to improve the terms and condition under which the Caribbean can participate in global trade, so it is timely and significant and I appreciate it on behalf of the member states of the CRNM.”

Ambassador Zhao Zhenyu, in his reply, emphasized his willingness to foster even better relations between China and the Caribbean, while noting the importance of the CRNM in the development of the region.

“We do hope that the relationship with China and CARICOM will get better and better,” he stated.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved


Rapport National sur le Développement Humain Posted by Picasa

Programme Intégré de Réponse aux Besoins Urgents des Communautés et des Populations Vulnérables en Haïti (PIR)

Un appel des Nations Unies en faveur des populations et communautés vulnérables en Haïti

Haïti défie les définitions classiques de pays en situation de crise humanitaire, conséquence d’une catastrophe naturelle ou d’un conflit armé. Cependant, début 2003, l'ensemble des Agences du SNU en Haïti, suite à une analyse rigoureuse, ont considéré qu'un programme intégré de réponse d’urgence s'imposait pour le pays.

C'est dans ce cadre qu’a été élaboré un Programme Intégré de Réponse aux Besoins Urgents des Communautés et Populations Vulnérables (PIR) préparé par le SNU en Haïti et qui propose une réponse coordonnée, rapide et ciblée pour appuyer une partie grandissante de la population haïtienne ayant atteint un seuil critique de vulnérabilité.

Les ONG nationales et internationales, de même que le gouvernement haïtien sont partie prenantes de ce programme. Le PIR a comme objectif de mobiliser 84 millions de $EU pour la mise en œuvre de ses projets.

- Haïti: L’urgence silencieuse !
- Le Programme Intégré de Réponse (PIR)
- La stratégie du PIR
- La mise en œuvre du PIR
- L’unité d’appui et de coordination du PIR
- Contacts
- Liens utiles

Téléchargez le Programme Intégré de Réponse aux Besoins Urgents des Communautés et des Populations Vulnérables (PIR)
- version française (PDF, 1MB) "French Version"
- version anglaise (PDF, 2MB) "English Version"

Monday, January 30, 2006 

UNDP - The Sustainable Difference Posted by Picasa

"Today, the scientific community increasingly recognizes that environmental degradation is having a significant impact on human development.Notably, it is the poor who are disproportionately affected by the degradation of their land, air,water and biological resources, with many lacking access to clean and affordable water and energy services.

Ensuring environmental sustainability and access to energy services is key to achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight goals that represent a global commitment to make rapid progress on key development issues.

This book is an important illustration of UNDP’s work on energy and environment for sustainable development and poverty reduction in pursuit of the MDGs.It describes UNDP’s efforts on the ground to support 140 countries to integrate energy and environment issues into their national development plans and poverty reduction strategies through capacity development, policy advisory services and trust fund management."

Download to Entire Book:


La Iniciativa Interamericana de Capital Social, Ética y Desarrollo del BIDa través de su Red Universitaria de Ética y Desarrollo Social (RED)

Convocan a los Instituciones de Educación Superior a participar del:

Programa de Apoyo a Iniciativas de Responsabilidad Social Universitaria, Ética y Desarrollo

El programa incluye asistencia técnica, materiales didácticos para docentes, herramientas de diagnóstico, capacitación y certificado de participación.El programa tiene como objetivos:

1.) Facilitar y asesorar la implementación de iniciativas de Responsabilidad Social, Ética y Desarrollo en las Universidades latinoamericanas.
2.) Elaborar modelos, estrategias e instrumentos pertinentes para facilitar y racionalizar la generación y realización de iniciativas de Responsabilidad Social Universitaria, Ética y Desarrollo en los ámbitos de la gestión, la docencia, la investigación y la extensión universitaria.
3.) Crear mayor sinergia y comunicación entre actores universitarios promotores de iniciativas de Responsabilidad Social Universitaria, Ética y Desarrollo en el continente, a fin de fortalecer la RED y asegurar la sustentabilidad local y el impacto global de tales iniciativas.

Los términos y beneficios del programa pueden ser consultados en el siguiente enlace:

El plazo para presentar propuestas vence el 28 de febrero de 2006. Si desea información adicional, por favor diríjase a: etica@iadb.org


THE Caricom Single Market is to be launched in Kingston Jamaica on Monday January 30th.

Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago became the first six Caricom countries to have signed on to the single market.

Their premiers, in a 3:00 pm ceremony at the Mona Visitors Lodge, University of the West Indies, will sign a document entitled 'Declaration by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community Marking the Coming into being of the CARICOM Single Market'.

Six other countries that have committed to membership in the common market by March 31 - Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines - will sign a document titled 'Draft Declaration of Intent by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community on the Participation of their Countries in the Caricom Single Market.'

During presentation of the 2006 budget on January 20th, Finance Minister Anthony Boatswain said Grenada and the rest of the OECS states which have not yet signed on to the CSM have until March 31st to do so.

He added that a legal expert is working with the Grenada government on drafting the necessary legislation in order that the country becomes fully compliant with the revised treaty. Expressing confidence that Grenada will meet the March 31st deadline, Boatswain said government will also ensure that sensitive industries are not negatively affected by the CSME.

He said there are provisions under chapter seven of the revised treaty that Grenada will use to protect its various sectors as the transition is made to a single economic space.



Tourism: Culture and Environment

Washington, Jan 28 (Prensa Latina) "Successful nation branding and promotion are critical to sustainable tourism and development," says Thomas Cromwell, president of East West Communications, a Washington DC agency that advises the Press and Information Department of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

One of the world´s leading experts on branding, Cromwell will share his insights as a keynote speaker at Counterpart International´s 8th Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from February 9-13, 2006.

The theme for the meeting will be "Sustainable Development: a Balancing Act" and participants will examine how they can motivate the most able people to engage in tourism development that creates wealth while revitalizing local culture and conserving the fragile environment.

Cromwell believes that nation branding can best serve destinations through differentiation, particularly at a time when countries are striving for global unity in terms of infrastructure and quality of life.

Cromwell sees a successful brand as part of a strategy for nations to compete better globally and reap the benefits at home. Branding, he says, can position a nation so that it can achieve the maximum success in the world system, including "garnering maximum international recognition and clout, robust business relations with the world, and a healthy tourism industry."

But as the Caribbean continues to focus on sustainable tourism, Cromwell cautions against depending too heavily on a tourism brand in a region susceptible to natural disasters, especially hurricanes.

To avoid this pitfall for the Caribbean and other regions whose tourism products are "strictly sea, sun and sand," Cromwell supports a holistic approach - a national brand identity that supports tourism as part of an umbrella brand, or metabrand, a term his company has coined.

CMEx is an interactive workshop that allows journalists from the Caribbean, North America and Europe to interact with representatives of the hospitality sector and government and discuss tourism policies aimed at improving the lives of Caribbean people.

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved.
Prensa Latina

Sunday, January 29, 2006 

$100 Laptop Project Moves Closer to Narrowing Digital Divide

UNDP to support innovative child education project

United Nations, 28 January 2006: The pioneering $100 laptop program, designed to give children in developing countries access to knowledge and educational tools, came a step closer to realization today with the signing of a partnership agreement in Davos between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and One Laptop per Child (OLPC).

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, signed at the World Economic Forum by UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis and OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte, the project's innovator and director, UNDP will work with local and international partners to design and develop programmes to deliver OLPC technology and learning resources to schools in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

"We are delighted to be part of this venture, which has the potential to break through the digital divide between rich countries and poor countries," said Kemal Dervis.

"Though the price of access to knowledge has dramatically decreased in recent years, new technologies remain out of reach for most people in developing countries, especially children, who rarely have access to the educational resources that could enhance their opportunities and lift them out of poverty," he said.

UNDP's global network is on the ground in 166 countries, and has extensive experience in using information and communication technology for sustainable development.

"One laptop per child is key, making learning more seamless with living, play and family life, versus being limited to school. Teacher preparation is important, in parallel with peer-to-peer and self education," said Nicholas Negroponte.

The $100 laptop is an inexpensive, robust computer, with open-source software, and very low power consumption. It can also be powered by hand cranking. The computers form a 'mesh network,' which means that they can talk to each other and several hundred machines can share a single point of access.

OLPC, the non-profit organization set up to oversee the project, was launched one year ago at Davos, and a working prototype of the product was showcased at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November 2005.

Corporate interest in the project has been high. After reviewing several bids, OLPC announced in December that Quanta Computers would manufacture the laptop; and six companies – Google, AMD, Red Hat, News Corporation, Nortel, and Brightstar, have already provided $2 million each to fund OLPC and the initial laptop design.

OLPC will first implement the program in seven diverse and very large countries. In each of those cases, the government will buy the machines to be given cost-free to students in well specified but large pilot projects. In the case of LDCs and poor countries, the UNDP will work closely with OLPC and other UN agencies on the ground to assist national governments to deploy the laptops to targeted public schools with a variety of internal and external funding sources.

It is expected that the cost of each laptop will come down over time. Manufacturing will begin when at least five million machines have been ordered and paid for in advance, and the preliminary target is to have units ready for shipment by early 2007.

"World demand and goodwill for the $100 Laptop has been boundless because any Head of State realizes that a nation's most precious natural resource is its children," said Negroponte.

Niamh Collier-Smith, UNDP, New York:
Cell: +1 917 213 0671,
Landline: +1 212 906 6111;
Email: newsroom.bb1@undp.org cc'ing niamh.collier@undp.org
Nia Lewis, OLPC, niav@media.mit.edu

For more information please visit:


Accords de prêts entre Haïti et le fonds de l’OPEP pour le développement international
Posté le 25 janvier 2006

Les trois accords de prêt, d’un montant total de dix-huit millions six cent mille dollars, portent sur des projets qui seront exécutés sous la supervision d’unités techniques placées auprès des ministères sectoriels concernés et financés par la BID.

Les trois accords conclus entre la République d’Haïti et le Fonds de l’Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole (OPEP) pour le développement international, ont été ratifiés le 14 décembre 2005 en Conseil des ministres et publiés sous forme de décrets.

Le premier accord, conclu en avril 1999, finance le projet d’éducation de base (PEB) du ministère de l’éducation nationale à hauteur de cinq millions de dollars. Les fonds serviront, entre autres, à la réhabilitation de 1280 écoles et à la construction de 400 salles de classe. Le second accord, conclu en septembre 2002, finance à hauteur de six millions six cent mille dollars des projets d’eau potable et d’assainissement, à travers l’Unité de réforme du secteur de l’eau potable (URSEP), placé au ministère des TPTC.

Ces fonds serviront au financement de projets visant à l’amélioration de la qualité et du niveau de service d’eau potable dans environ 10 centres urbains et 50 communautés rurales et périurbaines.

Le troisième accord, conclu en septembre 2005, d’un montant de sept millions de dollars finance différentes activités à travers l’Unité technique d’exécution du programme de réhabilitation des infrastructures économiques de base placées au ministère de l’Économie et des Finances.

Sont concernés les secteurs suivants : les infrastructures de transport et de communication (ports, aéroports), les abattoirs, les marchés, les centrales électriques ainsi que le développement rural.

© 2000, tous droits réservés - Haiti Press Network


Panday, Ramesh, meet Harnarine to discuss crime
Sunday 29th January, 2006

By Leah Mathura-Dookhoo

In an unusual midday meeting yesterday, UNC Chairman Basdeo Panday, along with former Attorney General, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj met with president of the Hindu Credit Union (HCU) Harry Harnarine to discuss the escalating crime scourge in the country.

Saying that he was deeply disgusted by the crisis the nation has plunged into, Panday said he was willing to meet with anyone who wants a safer T&T.

The closed meeting took place at Rienzi Complex in Couva around the same time UNC political leader Winston Dookeran was addressing members at a seminar in San Fernando on a way forward for the party.

Panday, who hosted the two-hour meeting said he invited Maharaj to join him following a request from Harnarine.

“They wanted to meet with Mr Maharaj and myself to discuss the deteriorating affairs of the country and to see what can be done,” Panday said in a telephone interview.

He said after yesterday’s meeting it is hoped that a united front can be formed with concerned groups to confront the PNM on several issues and to force them out of office.

“We have had 34 of 35 murders in 27 days, this is why groups are meeting with us. People are worried about their safety and they want political change,” he said.

However, the UNC chairman was quick to admit that his party alone could not do it. He said a collective effort from the mature thinking members of society who were concerned about the future generation would assist.

Asked about his relationship with Maharaj, Panday said he was willing to work with anyone who wanted unity and change of governance in the country at this time.

On his absence at Dookeran’s seminar yesterday, Panday said that several things were currently being done at this time to gear up its members for general elections, whenever it is called.

He said yesterday’s seminar and the meeting with officials of HCU did not mean that there was any struggle in the party for leadership, but that everyone was working hard for the good of the party.

Meanwhile, Maharaj who did not want to speak in detail about the meeting at Rienzi Complex said that both he and Panday would meet with HCU members again in the future to continue further discussions on the issue of crime.

“When one is in politics they must put people first. The country needs unity at this time and we must do this to save T&T,” Maharaj said.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited


Internet ties
Saturday, January 28th 2006

A recent survey on Internet use in the United States confirms that information technology plays an important role in the life decisions of some 60 million Americans.

The report, titled 'The Strength of Internet Ties' compiled from a survey conducted by Pew Internet, a US-based think tank, found that at present 21 million Americans are using the internet to further their studies at online universities. Some 17 million people use it to conduct research on major illnesses that may be affecting their families or loved ones and a similar number use it to investigate schools before enrolling their children.

The survey found that 16 million people have "surfed the net" before choosing a car and many have actually bought their cars online. Ten million people now use the internet for real estate purposes; to find a place to rent or buy or if they are selling property. And some eight million use it for career changes: to find a new job.

According to a BBC news report, the purpose of the survey was to find out whether the worldwide web and e-mail had strengthened social ties as it had been suggested in the past that web-based communication could diminish real relationships. But the report said that this has not happened. In fact, the researchers found the opposite - Internet communication has helped people in different parts of the world to keep in touch. Free e-mail and instant messaging services have also helped in cases where telephone calls and personal visits would be difficult and prohibitive and regular mail too slow, especially in times of crisis.

And the technology keeps growing more innovative as time goes by. Blogs, websites in which journal entries are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order and which first appeared around 1994, allow people to communicate their thoughts and with anonymity if they so prefer. While many blogs are used to share political views, today there are hundreds where emotional and other support, which was previously only available in individual or group counselling sessions or on crisis hotlines, is available, giving new meaning to the word community.

Meanwhile, an earlier study, also conducted by Pew Internet Project, found that the gender gap existed online although the division was not really in whether men or women used it more; rather it was in how they used it.

Men's usage tended to veer towards information about sports results, weather, news, job offers, recreation, music, hobbies and consumer ratings for goods and services, while women's use involved greater use of e-mail to make and maintain contact as well as searches for health and medical information, map directions and religious material.

In the UK, attempts are being made to integrate older people into the age of modern technology. 'Silver Surfers Day', an annual event observed in May, targets people over 55, aiming to make them less alienated. The proponents of the project see it as vital as it can help reduce the loneliness shut-ins tend to experience.

Last year, online reports say, the worldwide web grew by more than 17 million sites, the most ever in a single year, eclipsing even the 16 million recorded in 2000 at the height of the dot.com boom. Of course the Internet is not nuisance free and a significant number of these flourishing websites are used to sell/distribute pornography, dubious 'health' products and promote scams. Everyone who uses email is bombarded with these 'offers'. There is also online gambling, a fast-growing industry.

While the internet is widely available in Guyana, at offices, net cafes and on a growing number of personal computers in homes, the much-talked-of, long-hoped-for US$22.5M IDB information and communication technology project became bogged down in the failed talks to end telephone monopoly and never came to fruition. The project was to have been mostly educational and would have seen increased access to IT by schoolchildren and perhaps even local 'silver surfers'.

Nevertheless, in his budget speech on Monday, Finance Minister Saisnarine Kowlessar said the government would unfold an IT strategy for Guyana that will hopefully "enable us to realise the goal of seeing every household and school having access to telephones, computers, and high-speed broadband Internet."

He did not say when this strategy would be unveiled or how it would be financed, but since he had also said that the budget was not making "any grand promises", we will have to wait and see.

© Stabroek News


Women's Centre offers education alternatives for pregnant teens
Taniesha Davidson
Sunday, January 29, 2006

THE Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) has existed now for almost three decades, schooling within that time more than 30,000 pregnant teenagers whose high school education would otherwise have been disrupted.

The foundation also boasts a success rate of 80 per cent, according to executive director Beryl Weir, who says most of its students are re-integrated into high schools and go on to graduate.

Because of the transitional nature of the WCJF, the number of girls enrolled at the centre varies, but can range up to 1,500 per year, says Weir.Last year, 705 students from the centre returned to high school after they had their babies; in 2004, some 532 girls were re-integrated.

The school, which operates islandwide and is the only one of its kind in Jamaica, reflects the type of programme that anti-abortion pro-child advocates say the state and interest groups should offer as alternatives to pregnancy terminations.

The local head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Lawrence Burke, points, as example, to the Mustard Seed Communities, a church charity which offers pregnant women the option of learning a skill while they carry their babies to term.

But: "We need a lot more of those programmes," he acknowledged in an interview earlier this month with the Sunday Observer.

Three decades ago when teenage girls became pregnant, most of them were thrown out of school, often leaving them with few options for finding employment later, and putting them at risk for subsequent pregnancies.

But in 1978, government established the Women's Centre Programme for Adolescent Mothers on Trafalgar Road in Kingston, offering teens the chance to continue their education during and after pregnancy.In 1991, the programme, now under the portfolio of the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, gained 'foundation' status, and became the WCJF.

The WCJF now offers regular high school curriculum - six hours per day, four days per week, to pregnant girls under age 17, and coaches those who are at the required level in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) school-leaving exams.Those below graduation age are reintegrated into regular school after giving birth.

"The mandate of the centre is to provide education, training and counseling for the girls here," said Weir. "We provide counseling education for them and then place them back into a high school after they have the child."The girls, she said, have performed well over years with 61.3 per cent CXC passes last year from among 38 students who sat the exams, and 60 per cent in 2004 from among 16 candidates.

Additionally, Weir said the centre also tries to work with the parents/guardian of the girls to ensure that they understand that, legally, they are still responsible for the welfare of their daughters who are still minors.To be accepted as a student at the WCJF, Weir says the teenager must have been enrolled and attending school when she got pregnant.

Registration is $1,000; enrollment is voluntary, and is normally done by recommendation to the centre by the school's guidance counselor. The centre has a few cases where the girls sought out the programme on their own.

Girls who are co-habiting with their partners do not qualify for entry."Most of the girls who come here were not aware of their pregnancies until someone told them," said Weir, "or they are in denial and refuse to accept the pregnancy because it means that they are going to be in trouble with the adults in their lives."

The age of sexual consent in Jamaica is 16, but the average age of the partners of the teens at the centre, according to Weir is 23 to 25 years, and most of the girls are from lower income communities.Weir points out that few of the pregnancies resulted from 'rape', suggesting that the sex was consensual.

However, persons who have sex with children under 16 are subject to criminal prosecution, because those children cannot legally consent to intercourse.

"One of the challenges we have is identifying a rape case - whether it is by rape or other circumstances," said Weir. While the school provides academic classes for the students in areas such as mathematics, English and history, the students are also schooled in childcare, and family planning as well as practical skills.

The girls are strongly encouraged to ensure that their babies are properly immunised, and the centre takes the majority of the mothers on their first visit to the clinic.

"The girls get independent and group counseling to boost their self awareness and self esteem," Weir said."We try to create in them a mindset that is going to cause them to be more focused when they get back to school."After the girls deliver their babies, they are encouraged to continue at the centre for one school term, which lasts three months, before they go back to high school.

During this period, the babies are cared for at the centre's nursery free of cost - very few of the girls give up their babies for adoption - and the new mothers are counselled for integration, which includes a heavy sell for contraception usage.

"This has contributed to the reduction in second pregnancies," said the WCJF executive director, referring specifically to her girls.In fact, Weir claims a 'second pregnancy rate of less than two per cent' among her charges, compared to the national rate of near 25 per cent, according to 2003 figures.

Then some 1,474 teenagers got pregnant a second time of the more than 6,000 teens captured in the National Productive Health Survey.Contributing to the low repeat pregnancy rate is the two-year monitoring that the centre does of the girls who pass through its programme.

"We advice them to admit that they have a child because we realise that if they do that then the students will leave them alone," she said."We also encourage the parents to support their children during this time."

Despite its successes, the centre and its programme are often frowned on."It is still taboo because people feel that this programme encourages teens to get pregnant," said Weir.

© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.


Leading by example - Crisis of leadership
published: Sunday January 29, 2006

Don Robotham, Contributor

EVO MORALES, the recently-elected President of Bolivia, has announced that he is to cut his presidential salary by 57 per cent. His salary was a little over US$4,186 or J$263,718 per month, and he has cut it to US$1,800 per month or J$113,400. The new Bolivian President will therefore get about J$1.4 million per year.

The law of Bolivia provides that no public sector employee will get more than the President. The result of this action, therefore, is that the salaries of all public sector employees in Bolivia have thus been cut in half by the stroke of a presidential pen. Mr. Morales had promised in his election campaign that he would cut his salary in half. He has fulfilled his promise in the very first cabinet meeting. He has also suggested that the members of the Bolivian Congress follow suit and also cut their salaries likewise. Time will tell whether they do.


Although it has huge petroleum and natural gas reserves, Bolivia is even poorer than Jamaica. The GDP is slightly larger than that of Jamaica ­ US$8.8 billion compared to US$7.7 billion. However, Bolivia's population is much larger than ours. Their population is nine million while ours is 2.7 million. Thus Gross National Income per person in Bolivia is as low as US$960 per year, while here in Jamaica it is US$2,900 per year ­ about 36 per cent of ours. GDP growth in Bolivia in 2004 was more or less in the same range as Jamaica ­ 3.6 per cent as against two per cent ­ nothing to write home about.

But it is not just a matter of per capita income. Although income distribution figures for both Bolivia and Jamaica are almost impossible to come by, it is an accepted fact that in both countries income distribution is extremely unequal and getting worse, not better.

An interesting similarity also is that in both countries there is a racial aspect to the social divisions. In Bolivia, it is the descendants of the Aymara Indians (the vast majority) who are poor and the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors who are rich. In Jamaica, the situation is somewhat different: a wealthy light-skinned elite has been recently joined by a new class of black bourgeois and uptown lumpen.

Believe it or not, social conditions for the Indians in Bolivia are even worse than in Jamaica. Life expectancy is 64.1 years, in comparison to our 75.8 years. Infant mortality is an amazing 53 per thousand, compared to Jamaica's 17 per thousand. Net secondary enrolment in Bolivia is 67 per cent, while in Jamaica it is 74 per cent.

Bolivia has huge petroleum natural reserves but these will take many years to develop. As in the case of Nigeria and other oil-rich countries, even when the oil begins to flow, this does not mean that the general population will experience a significant improvement in their social and economic conditions.


President Morales has suggested that the money saved could be used to provide more teachers and doctors to serve the Bolivian people. Of course, his salary cut will not be enough to hire a significant number of health workers. But it may have larger economic significance all the same.

If public sector salaries are cut on this scale, there can be little doubt that it will cut the Bolivian budget deficit and help them to reduce their debt burden. The consequence will be a reduction in interest rates and increased investment in the real Bolivia economy, thereby hopefully reducing unemployment and poverty.

These are all problems with which we are struggling in Jamaica as well. So the Bolivian example is highly relevant to our case. But Morales' step is not only of economic significance. The point of it all is its great moral significance.

We could learn from this example in Jamaica, and not only in the public sector. Relative to our GDP and low levels of productivity, salaries at the managerial level in Jamaica are way too high. This applies not only to public sector salaries but also to those in the private sector.

As in Jamaica, Bolivia faces a very difficult economic situation and President Morales knows it. Although he may be sympathetic to the plight of the poor Indian groups in Bolivia, he knows that in the near term there is very little he can do to improve their economic circumstances.

Even in alliance with the growing group of left-wing countries in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela and soon Mexico), Morales cannot alter the free market global environment which determines economic and social outcomes in Bolivia and Jamaica. But he can do all he can locally to ameliorate the negative effects and to take advantage of the opportunities of the market.

The point of Morales' salary cut therefore is not only to help the budget, to reduce the debt burden and to stimulate in the real economy. It is also to show that he means it when he says he will put the poor people of Bolivia first. The point is to show that when he calls on the people to sacrifice, which he must, this is not the sort of empty moralistic invocation of 'values and attitudes' which it is common for wealthy politicians to preach in Jamaica. Morales is leading by example.

We sorely need this kind of leadership by example in Jamaica. We have never really had it, even in the 1970s. Today, when the economic pressures on Jamaica are far greater and the room for economic manoeuvre is much smaller, we need leadership by example even more. But not a single candidate for the leadership of the PNP or not one single leader in the JLP has called for this kind of leadership.

Nor have the trade unions. Nor has the Church. Instead of giving leadership, the Church confines itself either to 'bling' or to empty moralistic statements and action which, frankly speaking, cheapen its moral message. If the Church wishes to recover its moral leadership, preaching and praying, however impassioned, will not do it.

The Church, like everybody else, must cut back on its own 'bling' culture and then call for real economic sacrifices at the upper levels of our society, starting with themselves.


We should not fool ourselves. Jamaica is in a very serious economic, social and political crisis. The root of this crisis is the very same one that is affecting all the countries in Latin America, including Bolivia and Argentina.

None of our economies are in a position to compete in the international market economy in such a way that the majority of our citizens benefit. All of our countries carry severe debts, budget deficits and other shortfalls. As in the rest of Latin America, the Jamaican population has become deeply alienated from the free market policies which have been in place here since Michael Manley abruptly deregulated the economy after 1989.

But this policy environment is not something we can change. In such a context, leadership does not consist of making absurd promises about what one will do for Jamaica if one is elected. We should not be fooled. No leader can carry out such promises. What we really need is not empty promises but leaders who will lead by example of personal sacrifice.

What alienates the Jamaican people is not the free market policies by themselves. It is the inequality and double standards which pervade the society and its leadership. This leadership talks up a storm about what they will do for Jamaica if put in power, but is deathly silent on what sacrifices they are personally willing to make. The poverty rate remains stubbornly at 17 per cent while they zoom off in their SUVs!

The unemployment rate is down to 12 per cent, but the incomes of the employed are extremely low and the politicians increase their pensions to enormous amounts! The mentality at the top is that of the uptown lumpen ­ black and red.

These lumpen are on the edge of power but want to move into the centre. They want to control the state fully so as to rip us off even more. They want to capitalise on the disillusionment of the people exactly in the manner of a 'don' who organises roadblocks and street demonstrations against the police. What does it matter if some of these lumpen are black and others are red?
If the uptown lumpen succeed in gaining political power in Jamaica, we will be moving into the zone currently occupied by Haiti and some African states.

We won't have to speculate about whether we are a failed state then. It will be quite clear to all. Like him or not, Morales has put such lumpen to shame. Take sleep and mark death.

© Copyright 1997-2005 Gleaner Company Ltd.


Worrying labour trends
published: Sunday January 29, 2006

CURRENT PRACTICES and an analysis of emerging trends suggest that this year is shaping up to be a challenging one in managing industrial relations.

The approximately 48 unresolved wage disputes in 2005 continuing into this year, collective agreements set to expire this year in all sectors, and the frequent threat of strikes by the trade unions, set the tone for a disputatious 2006.

Not to be excluded from the mix is the relatively high level of inflation over the last two years, the imminent expiry of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for public sector employees and the temporary closure of the Bernard Lodge Sugar Factory over what the management claims was a series of "unusual events" which rendered some of its key equipment disabled.

There are also proposals on the table to amend the various labour laws, including the Labour Relations and Disputes Act (LRIDA).

We are also quite mindful of the growing complaints of non-unionised workers alleging violation of the Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act, Minimum Wage and Holiday With Pay legislations and unjustifiable dismissal.

Just under 6,000 complaints from non-unionised workers regarding pay and conditions of employment were reportedly received by the Labour Ministry last year with the majority 31 per cent in relation to employment ­ termination and redundancy payment.

It is our opinion that a first step to defusing workplace conflicts is to improve the process of communication between management and employees as too often, disputes arise because of uninformed decisions and insensitivity.

Disputing parties are reminded of the established machinery for dealing with industrial disputes in accordance with the LRIDA.

As our country strives to achieve the elusive growth, it is important that all disputing parties, for the sake of national development, approach industrial relations in an atmosphere of responsibility and fairness. Industrial turmoil is inimical to economic growth and development.

It is high time the Jamaica Employers' Federation and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, along with the Minister of Labour, give greater attention to the Labour Advisory Council, especially with the existence of the Caribbean Single Market.

© Copyright 1997-2005 Gleaner Company Ltd.


Forum set on domestic violence
Saturday, January 28, 2006

By LISA S. KING, Freeport News

FREEPORT – The Grand Bahama Crisis Centre in conjunction with the Marco City Urban Renewal programme will host a forum on domestic violence in an effort to heighten awareness and promote further education on this growing social plague on Monday, January 30, at the Foster B. Pestaina Hall of the Pro-Cathedral of Christ the King beginning at 7p.m.

Domestic violence is prevalent world-wide with many of the incidents stemming from violence against current or former spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends and even family members.
Sadly, because of this great scourge, a great number of men and women, but mostly women, are also murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

According to Dr Jean Turnquest-Brown, head of the Grand Bahama Crisis Centre, domestic violence has become an increasing problem in Grand Bahama and The Bahamas in general.
She said murder statistics for the island shows that domestic violence is often an associated factor. Additional-ly, many individuals are in abusive relationships which they are unable to resolve and often the abuse increases in frequency and in intensity.

Dr Turnquest-Brown states that victims of domestic violence often remain in abusive relationships because of ignorance, for lack of awareness of choices available and many other reasons. "We are inviting everyone to join us as we strive to promote that a victim is not responsible and choices are available," Dr Turnquest-Brown said.

"As we speak out against domestic violence, we are empowered, able to exercise our rights and better protect ourselves. As a result, we can defuse violence in the home and ultimately achieve a reduction in the rate of those murders associated with domestic violence."

In addition to Dr Turnquest-Brown, other panelists speaking at the forum will include Assistant Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, attorney Constance Mc-Donald, Rev. Robert Lockhart and Clarence Riley.

Among the many incidents of domestic violence the island will never forget was the brutal stabbing murder of Tiffany-Smith Laroda, 30, by her husband following an altercation they had had the previous day. Another incident was when 27-year-old Ann Thompson, a mother of four, was discovered by her 12-year-old daughter in the bathroom of her Hanna Hill home with a yellow nylon rope around the neck. Initially, before obtaining the autopsy report, the death was thought to have been an "apparent suicide."

Police investigations later led to her estranged husband being charged with her death.
1833 Corporal Terry Barry, coordinator of the Marco City Urban Renewal Project, said he is very pleased with plans for the upcoming forum, which is expected to give advice on how to decrease violence in the Grand Bahama community.

He said the Marco City Urban Renewal team was able to go into the community, identify its problems and respond by finding the best avenue to deal with them.

"By tapping into the Grand Bahama Crisis Centre, we are able to find help for the domestic problems we had witnessed. The Centre is well equipped and experienced to deal with them," said Cpl. Barry. "So that is what we in the Marco City Urban Renewal do: identify problems in the community and then get certain entities to help deal with the problems."

Mr Barry said in order for any community to grow, become a place of tranquility and for it to remain stable, there must be a participation of all sectors society.

"We are like a bridge between the Government and the community," he said.

Copyright © 2006 The Nassau Guardian. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 

David Jessop (Executive Director of the Caribbean Council for Europe)


For the past week (Jan. 2006) I have been travelling in the Caribbean. Meetings apart, I have been trying to understand the prospects for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). I have been asking those that I have met if this vital aspect of the regional integration process can be made to work.

Almost everyone I spoke to agreed that the creation of a CSME was a necessary Carib-bean response to the forces of economic globalisation and competition that threaten to overwhelm the region''s largely insignificant economies.

But when I came to probe just a little deeper, it became apparent that this desire for a regional identity and integration was not matched to any significant extent by the private thinking of some of those who are actively engaged in trying to shape the future.

The more I discussed the issue the more difficult it was to reconcile the contradictions between the genuine commitment to the ideal of regionalism and the reality of the Caribbean of today. What emerged were a number of issues that seemed to require urgent intellectual and practical resolution if the concept of a single market and economy is ever to become a sustainable reality.


1. The first related to whether there is anywhere a successful economic integration movement that involves nations without contiguous borders. The point was made that the fragmented nature of the region with its very small and physically separated nations suggested that the economies of scale that ought to arise from integration were not likely to be present in the Caribbean. As a consequence it may not be possible to rationalise and reduce the costs associated with everything from utilities to manufacturing. Moreover, the inadequacy of inter-Caricom transport systems resulted in high transactional costs of doing business between small island states.

2. The second was whether a region of economies at very different levels of development stands any chance of achieving the consensus necessary to make a single market work. There was widespread concern about the vastly differing levels of development of the CSME''s members and a fear about the possibility that the larger and wealthier may take over the smaller. It was noted that one solution had been proposed to address this: the creation of a regional development fund supported financially by all, that could float less developed econo-mies up to something closer those of the more developed. However, there was a concern that the proposed fund seemed likely to be stillborn because smaller Caricom nations were reluctant to contribute.

3. The third was a real doubt about the ability of the private sector to deliver a single market and whether the majority of companies in the region have any taste for the competition implied by economic integration. It seemed to be little understood in some parts of government that for a single market and economy to work, a vibrant private sector able to mobilise and risk capital for investments is required. Yet much of the private sector remains locked into a form of xenophobic protectionism while a significant part of the rest, the large and successful companies that are able to consider risk, now only invest outside of the region. To further confound the possibility of a single economy the absence of a regional stock exchange made investment across the region and from beyond difficult.

4. The fourth was whether the construction of a single market was politically viable when much of the Caribbean electorate remains sceptical, limiting governments'' room for manoeuvre.

5. And a fifth was the suggestion that the region''s key institutions that should be leading the way had lost touch with the reality of the region. The absence of substantially endowed chairs at the Univer-sity of the West Indies in crime and security and tourism, both now key components in the region''s future were cited as examples. The absence of common policies on regional energy security or food security were cited as other examples that raised questions about the extent to which regional integration can be achieved.

What all of this seemed to indicate was a regional integration movement at best moving at a pace that bears no relationship to the rapidly changing global economy, presided over by regional institutions designed for an age that has passed. What was also striking was how many senior figures privately shared these thoughts, yet despite their creative and new ideas could see no easy way forward.

In the region and beyond some suggest that generational and political change may provide answers. But the lack of any mechanism able to generate regional homogeneity implies that the uniqueness of each Caribbean nation's problems will remain. If this is the case it suggests that a moment will come when policies have to be designed that accept this difficult fact.

© 2003 Pam Democrat. All rights Reserved


Research Competition Posted by Picasa

First Annual Private Sector Development Research Competition

The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and the Financial Times (FT) invite entries for the first international private sector development research paper competition for 2005-2006.

The Theme
“Business and Development: The Private Path to Prosperity” The competition seeks to promote the best thinking on the role of business in development. Papers should add to the global discussion on private sector development and economic growth by providing new and innovative analyses, perspectives, or ideas. The target audience can be economic and financial policymakers, the international financial community, or international/domestic investors.

Six awards will be granted to the top papers as judged by the Awards Committee:

Gold Award: US$30,000
2 Silver Awards each: US$15,000
3 Bronze Awards each: US$10,000

All papers must be submitted in English and have a maximum of 4,000 words. Abstracts must have a maximum of 300 words. All entries must be received on or before June 30th, 2006.

See Terms and Conditions that apply to all entrants.

Step 1: Complete and submit this entry form (PDF, 65KB)

Step 2: Submit your paper

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