Safety net programmes underway to help Vincentians
Several social safety net programs currently underway in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are benefiting thousands of persons impacted by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Among these programs are ones implemented by the World Food Program (WFP), the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross Society, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Social Development Department of the government.
During NBC’s “Eyeing La Soufriere” program on July 14, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that since the start of explosive eruptions of the volcano on April 9 this year, the government has distributed over 22,000 food packages from the social development department through National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).
He noted also that over 9000 care packages were sent to persons who have returned to the orange zones through the Ministry of Agriculture.
“…And a lot of persons got help through there in the public shelters and in the private homes,” Gonsalves stressed while noting that 500 food packages are being delivered daily through the social development department while the Red Cross is doing 400 packages weekly.
“…So it’s a big number,” Gonsalves said while noting that one must also take into consideration the distribution of packages by the Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist churches.
The PM however acknowledged that on seeing the numbers, it must be noted that households from some communities have got more than others and this has been drawn to the attention of the authorities who will address this issue.
The PM noted also that besides the usual public assistance program, and the money given to farmers and fisherfolk, others are receiving cash through the World Food Programme (WFP) that is being dispensed through Western Union.
He said this money was raised through a United Nations (UN) global appeal and apart from logistical support, the WFP, through Western Union, is providing from $300 to $800 a month to families whose income is under $1000 a month.
This money is given to 3539 families who will continue to get the stipend until September. Gonsalves added that the recipients are in private homes, and in the red and orange zones as well as in shelters.
He said however that not all those who registered for WFP cash qualify, but searches are being done for some persons who cannot be located because their contact information is inaccurate.
“We are checking around and have identified over 200 families who we couldn’t find,” Gonsalves said while advising persons who registered and qualified for cash from the social development department and through the WFP to get in touch.
“There has never been an operation like this in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it has weaknesses but it has been superb,” the PM stressed.
Also mentioned was a three month program that will start on August 1 to be run by UNICEF.
The program will interact with 500 displaced families from the red zone and is made up of several modules which will focus on among things on coping skills, parenting, education, awareness building, child abuse, the role of men and women in development, disability awareness and hygiene education.