VI­O­LENT HALT

Flare-ups put brakes on Zika fight; in­fras­truc­tural projects

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Re­porter

AMAJOR clean-up ex­er­cise to rid com­mu­ni­ties of mosquito breed­ing sites to pre­vent the spread of the Zika virus has been stalled, at least for now, be­cause of the flare-up of vi­o­lence in a num­ber of tar­geted com­mu­ni­ties.

The clean-up ac­tiv­i­ties were planned by the Ja­maica So­cial In­vest­ment Fund (JSIF) and the Min­istry of Health.

Up to Septem­ber 2, the Min­istry of Health had re­ported that in to­tal, it had con­firmed that 92 per­sons, in­clu­sive of preg­nant women, were in­fected with ZIKV, while 7,078 no­ti­fi­ca­tions of the dis­ease had been re­ceived.

Not only has the scourge of vi­o­lence put on hold this cru­cial mosquito-con­trol ex­er­cise, but the JSIF is re­port­ing that sev­eral crit­i­cal so­cial in­ter­ven­tion and in­fras­truc­tural projects man­aged by the fund in some 30 com­mu­ni­ties is­land­wide have also been af­fected by vi­o­lence in com­mu­ni­ties across the is­land.

Man­ag­ing Director of the JSIF Omar Sweeney made an im­pas­sioned plea yes­ter­day to res­i­dents of com­mu­ni­ties plagued by vi­o­lence to co­op­er­ate with the se­cu­rity forces to ease ten­sions in these ar­eas so that the projects can be im­ple­mented.

He said that the fund has had chal­lenges in car­ry­ing out its

pro­grammes in western Ja­maica, adding that there are wor­ry­ing signs that the vi­o­lence is spreading to other com­mu­ni­ties. “Even when you go peri-ur­ban and even to the ru­ral ar­eas, there is a rip­ple ef­fect,” he pointed out.

“The point that we are mak­ing here is that there is talk of this hid­den ef­fect that we are fac­ing when we have these flare-ups be­cause while we are do­ing crime pre­ven­tion and try­ing to deal with the wrong­do­ers, the real­ity is that good-stand­ing cit­i­zens are not re­ceiv­ing the essen­tial govern­ment ser­vices that they need to re­ceive to carry out their busi­ness,” he said.

The JSIF has an in­ten­sive pro­gramme in 18 com­mu­ni­ties across seven parishes through its In­te­grated Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Project (ICDP).

Un­der the ICDP, the fund car­ries out var­i­ous train­ing pro­grammes for at-risk-youth. It con­ducts en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, re­cy­cling, and in­fra­struc­ture pro­grammes as well as com­mu­nity fairs.

“It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly more dif­fi­cult to ex­e­cute these pro­grammes be­cause it works on tim­ing, on peo­ple com­ing out, and free­dom of move­ment,” Sweeney as­serted.

Sweeney also high­lighted a planned com­mu­nity fair for Rus­sia in West­more­land on Fri­day but noted that the event had to be post­poned be­cause of a re­cent flare-up of vi­o­lence in the com­mu­nity. The com­mu­nity fair was planned in con­junc­tion with the Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice, the Reg­is­trar Gen­eral’s Depart­ment, the Pass­port Im­mi­gra­tion and Cit­i­zen­ship Agency, and Ja­maica AIDS Sup­port.

The JSIF web­site iden­ti­fied ICDP projects in Span­ish Town, St Cather­ine, and sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties in Mon­tego Bay such as Re­tire­ment, Granville, Bar­rett Town, and An­chovy.

“Our ap­peal is for the res­i­dents to co­op­er­ate with the po­lice force and help us to con­tinue to ex­e­cute the pro­grammes so that es­sen­tially, peo­ple can re­ceive the ben­e­fits of the pro­gramme.”

SWEENEY

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