CDB's Basic Needs launches fifth programme
- Guyana is top funded country, lauded for timely project completion
Stabroek News
February 28, 2004

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Guyana leads the ten countries which receive financing under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) and a new tranche will make US$11.14M and possibly more available to George-town.

BNTF launched its fifth programme (BNTF 5) in Guyana at the Cara Inn on Thursday. BNTF is funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which launched the initial programme some 24 years ago, with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It now also receives contributions from the Canadian government, through the Cana-dian International Develop-ment Agency (CIDA).

Guyana was invited to participate in the programme from BNTF 3, during which it completed 58 large sub-projects, which benefited over 367,000 citizens (about half of the country's population). In BNTF 4, Guyana received grant funding from CDB for 152 sub-projects, 50 large ones at over US$20,000 each and 102 small ones at under US$20,000 each which benefited over 231,000 persons. The government also contributed US$2 million to the 210 sub-projects.

Proposals submitted for BNTF 5 by Guyana average between US$70,000 to US$80,000 and at least two reach US$500,000, Devindra Jaglall, BNTF project manager said.

CDB Portfolio Manager Nizamuddeen Ameerally said the CDB has approved 66 sub-projects for a BNTF 5 allocation for Guyana of US$2.7 million and nine of these sub-projects were already completed. He said Guyana is the only beneficiary member country (BMC) that has completed sub-projects under BNTF 5 and commended the Guyana project for the achievement.

Jaglall attributed the success of BNTF here to "the enthusiasm of the Guyanese people," adding that the cooperation the project received from the various ministries was also key.

The BNTF 5 launching was part of a two-day seminar and covered poverty reduction strategies, BNTF 5 approaches, Poverty Reduction Action Plan which defines the most strategic role for use of BNTF resources and the sectors eligible for BNTF 5.

As originally conceived BNTF was targeted at improving economic conditions in the BMCs by addressing high unemployment and utilising short-term employment methods.

"Under BNTF 5, CDB and CIDA are providing initial allocations of approximately US$11.14 million including costs of consultants' services to Guyana, more than the total amount received under BNTF 3 and 4 [which was US$10 million]," Ameerally said.

Now in its 5th cycle the objective of the BNTF programme is to assist low-income communities in each BMC to identify, plan and to implement projects which will improve access to essential services.

Ameerally said in the BNTF publication issued at the launching: "In spite of [their] development efforts, significant proportions of our populations still remain living in poverty, which range from an unacceptable 17% to 39% of the population in the participating BMCs, being extremely poor (cannot afford daily food requirements)."

He went on to say after the Mid-Term Evaluation in 2006, there will be an additional allocation to Guyana from the US$8.15 million, set aside for incentive bonus awards based on performance of the ten participating BMCs' projects. "It should be noted that Guyana's share of BNTF 3-5 is the single largest share amount among the ten participating BMCs."

In his address to representatives from the various communities that will benefit from BNTF funding, Canadian Deputy High Commissioner to Guyana Murray Kam encouraged all to promote sustainable development.

Kam says Canada's goal is to support sustainable development in order to increase earning capacity and to support the improvement of infrastructure. He emphasised that BNTF is a cost effective means where local participation and ownership are critical for success.

"This launching could not come at a better time," Finance Minister Saisnarine Kowlessar said.

He noted that proposals were submitted in the areas of skills training, drainage and irrigation, health, education and water.

Herman Williams, coordinator for Upper Region Ten (the Berbice area) and the Maple Town Skills Training Centre at Aroaima, Berbice, said his centre offered two main courses which include the teaching of cake icing and decorating and sewing skills. These courses were taught for over a year at the centre before the BNTF funding was depleted.

He said the centre needed equipment such as a computer, telephone and fax machine and would like the government to subsidise the fees that students have to pay for the courses.

According to Williams, many of the students are poor and cannot afford the fees. On average, a class has 14 to 15 students. Sixty persons were trained at the centre and a few of them have since been employed, he said.

In its proposal this year, the centre is seeking funding for HIV counselling and awareness training, first aid training, carpentry and joinery, sewing, for computer training, cookery and counselling for moral problems.

Albouystown, Sophia, Lusignan and Mon Repos are among the communities that have benefited from BNTF projects

Other BMCs are Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montser-rat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Gre-nadines, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados and Jamaica.