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Clarendon Citizens Developed Sustainable Solutions to Youth Crime Prevention at Three-Day Retreat

Five innovative action plans were developed by a group of concerned and committed Jamaican citizens that will see to the implementation of a set of activities that reshape how the safety and security systems in Clarendon performs, with specific focus on youth crime prevention. It all happened in just three days at a retreat that took place on December 3-5, 2018, which was facilitated by the USAID funded and FHI 360 implemented, Local Partner Development activity. Implementation of the five action plans will begin in March 2019 and will surround projects in the following areas:

  1. Advocacy for inclusion of youth development in government policies
  2. Re-integration of unattached youths in high schools
  3. Strengthening the local economic development entrepreneurial initiative in Clarendon
  4. Development and implementation of a youth mentorship program
  5. Training and support for parents in Clarendon

Recent statistics have shown that young people are both the primary victims and perpetrators of crime in Jamaica, and Clarendon is no exception. With the third highest homicide rate in Jamaica, Clarendon also reflects this startling fact, with most major crimes in the parish committed by youths below the age of 29. Since this crime situation is everybody’s business, the activity built on the collaborative framework that already exists in Jamaica, by advancing the “talk-shop” phenomenon to the development of tangible action plans advanced by the participants themselves, who have all committed to the implementation of the activities. USAID through LPD, will provide technical assistance and funding support in the implementation of the five issue-specific action plans that were developed at the retreat.

The Retreat was a literal demonstration of a Whole System in the Room, involving multiple stakeholders to include government representatives, civil society organizations, members of the private sector and citizens living in Clarendon, participating in intense solutions-driven discussions on strategies to prevent youth crime and violence in Clarendon. The group coalesced a cross-section of people with authority, resources, expertise, information and need.

The Whole System in the Room approach, is one stage of a five-step management process that was developed by FHI 360 called SCALE+ (System-Wide Collaborative Action for Livelihoods and the Environment). The method has been successfully used in over 15 countries around the world to catalyze large-scale change by bringing together multiple stakeholders to adopt a common vision, collaborate, and take action to produce system-wide change in a short period. FHI 360 is now pioneering the approach in Jamaica, with solutions to youth crime prevention in Clarendon being the first development challenge being tackled.

Present at the Retreat was Mayor of the Clarendon Municipal Council, His Worship the Mayor Councillor, Winston Maragh; who also sits on the WSR Steering Committee that was established some two months before. In his keynote address at the Opening Ceremony, Mr Maragh said that the initiative aims to contribute to the existing collaborative networks that are working towards the alleviation of crime in Clarendon. According to him, the retreat encourages ownership of the tools and strategies needed to decrease crime, which puts the power in community stakeholders’ hands and gives them a voice in the solution-building process. Mr. Baugh continued, “it is good to see such a cross-section of interested stakeholders in one room - from school teachers, NGO leaders, youth activists, police officers, business owners and local government representatives - that can have a positive impact on decreasing crime in Clarendon. Together, we can work to restore our beautiful parish of Clarendon, while uplifting our youths.”

USAID Jamaica Director for Citizen Security, Ms. Shannon Stone, commended the initiative, highlighting that “a network like this has the capacity to solve systemic problems, because they draw on the resources of all the sectors: business, government, and non-profit.” She continued by assuring the group that “together, you can wield more power than one organization or even a group of similar organizations.”

Approximately 80 individuals participated in the intense discussions over the three-day period, representing multiple sectors. Along with His Worship the Mayor, Winston Maragh, the group included Sean Barnswell, Councillor and Former Mayor of May Pen, Baldwin McKenzie, Chairman of the Clarendon Inter-Agency Network; Eurica Douglas, General Manager of the Clarendon Parish Development Committee; representatives from the Ministry of National Security, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Minister’s Fraternal, civil society organizations, academia and community members.