The OAS and the “Puente in the Caribbean Program”

The Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) said its Department of Social Development and Employment is making strides in a mission in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide technical support to program implementers working to fight poverty on the islands of the English-speaking Caribbean.

The OAS said the “Puente in the Caribbean Program,” which is based on the highly successful “Chile Puente Program,” seeks to “improve the quality of life of people living in extreme poverty, and has attracted the attention of several Caribbean governments.” The governments of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Suriname are participating in the second phase of the program, which began in 2007.

The mission recently traveled to the Caribbean to meet with the Minister of National Mobilization and Social Development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Michael Browne; the Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, and Urban and Rural Development of Barbados, Christopher Sinckler; and the Minister of Social Affairs and Public Housing of Suriname, Hendrik Soerat Setrowidjojo.

Director of the OAS’ Department of Social Development and Employment Francisco Pilotti stressed the sensitization of Caribbean partners on the use and functioning of the recently launched Puente Virtual Forum, a virtual classroom, designed and managed in collaboration with the Education Portal of the Americas, “to facilitate ongoing capacity building in social protection strategies.”

The governments of Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago adopted the program in its first phase “and have learned the precise mechanisms and principles of the program in an effort to adapt them to their unique social protection needs.” The program is financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government of Chile, with technical support and coordination from the OAS Department of Social Development and Employment.

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