Guyana taps into US$64M fund to tackle youth crime, violence

first_img– MoU signed with USAIDCommunities with a high rate of youth crime and violence in Guyana have been selected to benefit from the new four-year US$64 million Caribbean initiative, Youth Empowerment Services (YES) programme being implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).During the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that formalised the agreement with the Guyana Government on Thursday, Finance Minister Winston Jordan revealed the names of the communities that are to benefit from the initiative. They include Corriverton, East La Penitence, Sophia, Lodge, and East Ruimveldt.USAID Mission Director for the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) programme, Christopher Cushing hands over a copy of the MoU to Finance Minister Winston Jordan during a signing ceremony on Thursday at the Finance Ministry’s boardroom“These communities were selected based on the findings of studies, which show that they have the highest representations of high-risk behaviours such as incarceration, high levels of youth involvement in crime and violence, teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment, high numbers of drop-outs and significant use of drugs, among others,” the Minister explained.Jordan said the programme would help to prepare youths for employment by Government and civil society, and help to encourage entrepreneurship among them.“As we develop and roll out these programmes, work will be done simultaneously to guarantee that the stigma associated with self-employment and entrepreneurship is replaced with the need to foster innovation and creativity within our young people,” he said.The Minister also highlighted that this new initiative would build on the achievements made by the Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) project, which assisted in creating alternative opportunities for young people who were at risk of becoming involved in a life of crime.“The YES programme is expected to increase the institutional and technical capacity of Government agencies, civil society, Non-Governmental Organisations, as well as stakeholders in selected communities to reduce the risk that fuel youth crime, violence and discrimination,” he added.Jordan also commended the USAID for implementing the programme, describing it as a comprehensive tool, which would provide necessary interventions to correct the incidence of crime and violence.USAID’s Mission Director for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Chris Cushing also indicated that the YES programme was being financed because of the successes by the US-funded US$7.5 million SKYE programme, which provided at-risk youths with new opportunities to further their education, become gainfully employed and venture into small businesses which are now poised for long-term success.Cushing expressed optimism that the YES programme would make the youths resilient to crime and violence and also reduce the chances of them becoming perpetrators.“The project uses a community-centred and public health model for crime and violence prevention to identify, analyse and support project interventions. The project will collect data to understand where and why crime and violence is happening, and will also support juvenile justice reform.”The project will target countries in the eastern and southern Caribbean, but will be focusing especially on Guyana, St Vincent, and St Lucia, where it was found that the emerging and existing issues warranted the intervention. It consists of three components: the Community, Family, Youth Resilience Programme; the Juvenile Justice Reform Project; and Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making.last_img read more