Twelve small-scale artisanal and mining enterprises (ASMEs) from Jamaica are now in receipt of grants totaling 51,000€ Euros/9 Million JMD Jamaican Dollars, to support their business and emergency response to the COVID 19 pandemic, following a virtual ceremony on Monday August 17.
The grants have been disbursed under the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Development Minerals Programme which is implemented in Jamaica by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi Country Office in Jamaica in partnership with the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Transport and Mining.
Support to the ASMEs forms part of a comprehensive package of crisis support to the government and people of Jamaica under UNDP Multi Country Office's COVID intervention valuing a combined 290 000 USD/ 246,260€ Euros. Resources have been allocated from UNDP's core funds, and also repurposed and reprogrammed from selected UNDP-implemented projects such as the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme.
Event chairperson, UNDP’s Ruth Clarke, Country Coordinator, Development Minerals Programme for Jamaica, said disbursement to the 12 grantees, 22% of whom are women, will be managed by the Rose Town Foundation for the Built Environment, a local Non-Governmental Organization. UNDP will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the grant process as well as the activities of the grantees. She outlined that proposals to be implemented include an environmentally friendly system of waste lubricant recycling and distribution in a quarry, communal organic farming with employment from the community on adjoining lands in the quarry and gypsum stockpile area, mining plan for export possibility to compensate for loss of sales in domestic market, summer training programme (training) in the use of clay for youth in the community of Trench Town, Rose Town and Waterhouse, among other projects.
Notably, all proposals were mandated to have a COVID-19 related emphasis on safety and, security and business and emergency response, to the impact of COVID-19.
EU Ambassador to Jamaica Malgorzata Wasilewska in her address at the virtual ceremony noted that small grants can generate big results and make a difference to people who have very little or no hope of income. She expressed confidence that the grant will support ASMEs in responding to the crisis and alleviate difficult conditions caused by the pandemic. She also expressed the hope that the grantees would also help design an environmentally friendly world in order to tackle the main problems of the planet.
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said successful implementation of the business and emergency response measures to be funded by the grants would provide lessons learned of how lives and livelihoods were protected, and crisis resilience strengthened in the small business community during this unprecedented time. "Your success is a win for your families, your communities and Jamaica’s economy. It will also highlight the importance of the Development Minerals industry and how it contributes through more jobs, increased income, stronger businesses and greater contributions to GDP", she said.
The UNDP Resident Representative, who along with the EU Ambassador officially received the National Minerals Policy from the Ministry noted that this deliverable from Phase one of the programme would provide a well-needed policy framework for the emerging Development Minerals sector which, she noted has the potential to contribute to Jamaica’s social and economic development.
Delivering remarks on behalf of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Mining Dr Alwin Hales, the Ministry's Principal Director, Mining/Minerals Policy Planning and Development, Dr Oral Rainford acknowledged that the Development Minerals Programme has provided "signal assistance to the minerals sector its inception in 2015, and also provided a fillip to the development of the minerals and minerals craft industry. "As COVID continues to impact society, government, companies and individuals, the grants will help recipients navigate this difficult period in the country's modern history", he noted. Dr Rainford implored recipients to make best use of the funds and asked them to remain committed to their profession and to continue to facilitate the development of the nation in their own unique way.
Phase Two of the Development Minerals Programme officially started in November 2019 and is designed to foster increased employment and income for artisanal and small-scale mining enterprises (ASMEs), and in particular, increased economic opportunities for women participating in ASMEs throughout the Development Minerals value chain.