UNESCO, IOM Launch Joint Programme to strengthen Jamaica’s Resilience to Food and Water Insecurity

Kingston, Jamaica – September 30, 2022: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will implement a joint programme aimed at strengthening Jamaica’s resilience to food and water insecurity.

The project, funded largely by the European Union, through the United Nations (UN) Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund, was launched today, at the ROK Hotel in Kingston, by the Hon Desmond McKenzie Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Dr Garry Conille, UN Resident Coordinator.

The project seeks to find solutions to enable Jamaica, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to combat current and future global food-water-energy crises.

“It’s hard to overstate how climate variability, biodiversity erosion and the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the fragility of Jamaica’s food systems, said European Union Ambassador to Jamaica, Marianne Van Steen.

“Additionally, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, compounded food security issues. Therefore, we welcome this timely and important project aimed at strengthening Jamaica’s resilience to food and water insecurity,” she stated while addressing the launch event.

In Jamaica, agriculture accounts for 8.68 per cent of gross domestic product, with sugar cane, banana, coffee, cocoa, citrus, and pimento being the main agricultural crops highly dependent on water resources. In rural Jamaica, small-scale and women farmers tend to be more subjected to water insecurity and hardship livelihood while also representing an untapped potential for innovation and community development.

Jamaica’s food production sector has the most significant gender gap in the Caribbean with 30 per cent of registered farmers being women. The project activities will focus on empowering rural women farmers in Jamaica’s breadbasket belt of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, Southern St. Ann, and Manchester.

“Rural women are among the most vulnerable groups in Jamaican society. We aim to understand the water management challenges of rural women in the farming ecosystem and to empower them towards sustainable food production, water efficiency, and environmental best practices,” said Dr Anna Paolini, Director of the UNESCO Office for the Caribbean.

“Climate change, food security, and environmental degradation all influence migration patterns. For this reason, IOM is coordinating with Government and our international partners to address the environmental drivers of migration,’” said IOM’s Head of Office, Keisha Livermore.

“This includes rural to urban migration and urbanization patterns in countries like Jamaica. IOM is looking at the way that food insecurity triggers displacement with a particular focus on the way gender

dimensions to better understand how gender dynamics intersect with vulnerabilities towards climate change and related mobility,” said Livermore.

During the project launch, Dr Paolini further highlighted that “The UNESCO-IOM Joint Programme has the potential to become a model that catalyses innovative water management and drive change in the water-food nexus in the region.”

Through this Joint Programme, the UN agencies will deploy household data and information collection, in the form of surveys for national and sectoral representation (quantitative), and conduct key informant interviews (qualitative), in order to produce evidence on current food insecurity and livelihood impact trends in Jamaica. Research conducted during the project will be used to close existing gaps in Jamaica’s food, water and farming database and inform the design of programmes aimed at strengthening the farming ecosystem and help to mitigate rural-urban migration.

“The goal post is to ensure we leave no one behind and that Jamaica strengthens its resilience to climate change and shocks and that we do this through sustainable natural resource management,” Dr. Conille said.

“We are confident that this joint programme is aligned with Jamaica’s priorities and the vision to advance the sector agenda and have particularly positive impact for rural area populations and women farmers,” Conille added.

Project partners include the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, Water Resource Authority, National Water Commission, The University of the West Indies, Social Development Commission, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Northern Caribbean University, National Environment and Planning Agency, Statistical Institute of Jamaica, UN Resident Coordinator Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Government staff in relevant agencies will be trained in the use of tools developed during the project.

The project will run until December 31, 2022.

About IOM - The International Organization for Migration (IOM), established in 1951, works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration to promote international cooperation on migration issues, assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems, and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

About UNESCO - UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences, and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

For further information, please contact: Dania Bogle at IOM Jamaica. Email: Tel: 876 995-1932 Jean-Paul Ngome-Abiaga at UNESCO Jamaica. Email Tel: 876 354-2455 Jomain McKenzie at United Nations Jamaica. Email: Tel: 876 562-3357

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
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