It is an honor to represent the United States Government in this signing ceremony that symbolizes the strong continued partnership between the United States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It also underlines our shared commitment to promoting resilient, prosperous, and secure Eastern and Southern Caribbean nations through pragmatic partnerships.
As part of this shared commitment, the U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is committing $165 million in funding to support regional and national objectives to:
- mitigate youth involvement in crime and violence in target communities – $89 million;
- control HIV/AIDS among key populations – $52 million; and
- reduce the risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate vulnerability – $31 million.
The five-year Development Objective Agreements (DOAGs) being signed today form part of USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean’s 2015-2019 Regional Development Cooperation Strategy. In partnership with CARICOM, the U.S. Government’s new programming will address the abovementioned objectives in youth, health, and climate change within the six Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries, as well as in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname.
The U.S. Government is pleased to partner with CARICOM in these initiatives which will further improve the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable groups including youth and socially marginalized populations.
The past successes of U.S. Government programs in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean have been possible largely due to the support of our partners. CARICOM, by virtue of its commitment to improving the economic, social, cultural, and technological advancement of Caribbean people, remains a beacon in this regard.
USAID’s regional programming has achieved significant results to date:
- Approximately 30,000 youth were provided with vocational or entrepreneurship training through youth empowerment programs. For example, 2,200 youth received workforce development training; 785 were linked to new or long-term employment; 60 started their own small businesses and 92 received alternative sentences under the Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) program in Guyana. In Suriname, 1,019 young people participated in the Kari Yu! youth development and juvenile justice program and, as a result, 203 found long-term employment.
- HIV/AIDS outreach, prevention, care, and treatment in the region has been significantly strengthened. For example, in the area of HIV/AIDS, 8,532 Guyanese received HIV counselling and testing services and learned their HIV status; 214 HIV positive persons graduated from USAID-funded care and support services; and 500 family members of persons living with HIV were trained with the requisite skills to care for them. With USAID’s support, the OECS was successful in its US $5.3 million Global Fund bid to further HIV/AIDS care and treatment in the region.
- Through climate change programming, water augmentation was provided for several water-scarce communities and coastal residents in several islands were also protected against loss of property and livelihoods during extreme weather events.
- For example, in Dominica, a US $332,000 Climate Change Drainage Improvement initiative enabled the Mero community to escape severe damage following the passage of the recent Tropical Storm Erika while several other towns were decimated by flooding and landslides.
- Additionally, government officials across the OECS were trained in Meteorology and Hydrology and Hydromet equipment was installed at airports to monitor climate change.
Today’s ceremony marks another milestone in U.S. and Caribbean relations and the U.S. Government looks forward to continued partnership with CARICOM to advance our shared goals of more resilient, prosperous, and secure Caribbean nations. The agreement we are signing today reiterates the commitment of my government to remain engaged alongside our Caribbean partners, as was evidenced by President Obama’s successful visit to Jamaica in April this year. Thank you for joining us as we celebrate this occasion.