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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 


The Caribbean walk of change: The road to social
transformation Part 2

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

by Clarence E. Pilgrim

History was made at the just ended historic forum that brought together Caribbean ministers and other high level officials involved in social transformation/development, which was held at the Jolly Beach Resort, Antigua.
This event is a bright hope of optimism for the future dynamics involved in the effort to socially re-engineer our society into what is hoped will address the social ills and inequalities which exist on a number of levels.
Expectations are high as we await the publication of the final report, which is expected to help guide the decision-making process of the Caribbean Heads of Governments. It is forums like this which should be continuous, giving support and logically lead to what I hope will be a Caribbean Community 10-year National Development Plan.
I believe that in order to elaborate a successful plan of this nature it is important to involve stakeholders from various sectors in society to give an input and to be given the opportunity to crystallize their thoughts with the supply of available information and the broad guidelines for the scope of analysis. It is my belief that the following areas should be looked at:

° Trade, Commerce and Industry
° Health and Social Services
° Infrastructure and Energy
° Development Planning and the Environment
° Legislative and Institutional Framework
Armed with a Caribbean development plan will indeed be a necessary precursor to the whole process of deepening and strengthening the integration process.
In looking at the way forward it is instructive to remember the United Nations Millennium Declaration and development goals which is a very important yardstick to measure our own aspirations by. Let us look at part of this historic document, to get a feel of it’s intent and purpose, and to help us craft our direction in that area. Article 19 is as follows:
“We resolve further:

° To halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and, by the same date, to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.
° To ensure that, by the same date, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education.
° By the same date, to have reduced maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates.
° To have, by then, halted, and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.
° To provide special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
° By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers as proposed in the 'Cities Without Slums' initiative."
But how do we accurately measure the strengths and weaknesses of each member nation within the Caribbean Community, as an entity to produce an “inventory” process to do the necessary forward planning?

We must first refine the methodology for the measurement of vulnerability and for the construction of a composite vulnerability index appropriate to our circumstance.

The factors relating to vulnerability may be considered to fall within three broad categories: economic exposure; remoteness and insularity; and proneness to environmental events and hazards which impact on the economy.
It is important to note that an environmental index which may be embedded in the overall Vulnerability index may be based on five environmental factors: the rate of deforestation, population density, water use, ratio of coastline to land area; threatened biodiversity relative to land area, and natural disasters. Some states within the Caribbean obviously have relatively lower levels of vulnerability, than the majority which experience relatively high vulnerability to external economic and environmental factors.

In my article, The Quest for the Nation's Soul part 1, I said and firmly believe that, “Only through a deliberate national strategy and an action agenda can we hope to fully harness the raw human resource potential with the aim of promoting attitudinal change and social renewal.

A better work ethic of responsibility and quality. Public accountability & transparency. Protecting and maintaining not disfiguring or destroying public property. A new mood of seeking and creating entrepreneurial opportunities through initiative and creativity.

We must retard the growth of the antisocial qualities of indiscipline, which exists in varying degrees, and may manifest itself in the forms of “rudeness” to each other or even violence with a fatal ending.

How we function with our everyday relationships, must be the focus of our self-examination. In order to make an outward change, we must begin by looking inside ourselves.

Social mobility may be the best means to avoid the dangers of social instability. In working to build a firm foundation for the present and future generations, we must be mindful of the errors of the past. We must identify the “value system” which form the social constants which will be the building blocks of a new society.

With the ever changing behavioral norms and societal trends, there remains solid fundamental values and attitudes which we must make a constant factor in our everyday actions.”
The need for sustained financing for social projects, is an important consideration.
This facilitates increased human resource capacity, and hopefully minimise the high rates of migration of skilled labour from our Caribbean Community to the developed world. We must ensure that we mobilise the right resources that allow greater flexibility and longevity to projects which are designed to influence society’s developmental stages to progress.
Let us continue on the journey and do the things which are necessary to lead us to a state of enlightenment.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved

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