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Oct 23, 2017

Basic Needs Trust Fund to Pump More Funding into Underprivileged Communities

Over fourteen million U.S. dollars will be invested in underprivileged communities in Belize. It was officially announced today at a launch of two projects that are set to improve the lives of the poor. The Government of Belize, through the Social Investment Fund, and the Caribbean Development Bank launched the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Belize SIF-Three projects.  In May of this year, the National Assembly of Belize approved ten million U.S. dollars in loan resources from C.D.B. to assist in poverty reduction efforts at the community level and today the bank committed four point five million more in grants to tackle poverty. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s launch and shares more about how these monies will be used.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Government of Belize and the Caribbean Development Bank are partnering to tackle poverty in Belize through the ninth cycle of the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Belize Social Investment Fund Three projects. The BTNF is being implemented through a four point five million U.S. dollar grant and the BSIF is a ten million U.S. dollar loan. The aim of both of these projects is to address growing poverty in vulnerable communities.

 

George Yearwood

George Yearwood, Portfolio Manager of BNTF, CDB

“There is a continuing need. Poverty has persisted and the contributors to our special development fund have in fact agreed with us that we need to continue the support. Indeed it is very difficult to get these grant funds. The negotiations are not easy, so we have to continuously show that we are making a difference. After all, the funds that we are providing from our non-borrowing members to extend grants to Belize to do this work is really tax payers’ money. So, we have to be very astute. We have to be very targeted in using those scarce resources. But I get the impression that and II have a strong feeling, and so does my team, that once we can demonstrate that we are doing good work that we will continue to get financing under the grant funding under the BNTF program.”

 

The Basic Needs Trust Fund four point five million U.S. dollars will be invested in several communities across Belize over three years. According to William Lamb of SIF, the needs are many and there are a large number of requests – but those will have to be prioritized.

 

William Lamb

William Lamb, Executive Director, BSIF

“We have over three hundred such requests on file and we ask different ministries to prioritize these; for example, education; rural development for the water and other institutional help; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Human Development; and the reason why we work with the ministries is because we have to ensurethere is sustainability after the project has been implemented. So, the Ministry would send back and then give us priority list. As I mentioned this morning, we have a large number of list but not enough money to deal with the projects that are prioritized as number one.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you don’t have right now who are going to be the beneficiaries of the grant?”

 

William Lamb

“No. That takes a process of getting certain approval; even approval of the bank of certain prioritized lists and within funds that we have gotten from both of these interventions.”

 

The projects are yet to be named, but they will help to provide access to quality education, water and sanitation, basic community access and drainage and livelihood opportunities. As cycle nine, this BNTF project will not only continue some of the work of cycles seven and eight – but will also expand on what was achieved.

 

George Yearwood

“What we have done this cycle, however, is to enhance our support to education by expanding the reach of the program to provide livelihood enhancement. Many years ago we started with the skills training exercises and then we realize that we needed to train towards certification. So, in cycle seven and eight we introduced training towards NVQ and CVQ certification. In this cycle, we are taking those participants even further by providing them with skills towards entrepreneurship and with small seed finance for access to tools and equipment to enable them to use their qualifications to improve their livelihoods; so that is where we are now going with the cycle nine.”

 

The loan from CDB will be used mainly for financing social and economic infrastructure, social services and organizational strengthening sub-projects in poor rural communities. The project is estimated to cost twelve point five million US dollars. The government of Belize will provide two point five million U.S. dollars in counterpart funding towards the project.

 

William Lamb

“This will be used for infrastructure projects; to help in education, water and sanitation; community enhancements and we have social development, institutional training and health sector that we work.”

 

The CDB is hosting a week-long series of workshop that aims to support proper implementation of the grants to ensure that targets are met. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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