Information Officer I
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Vornicia's House of Commerce, Long Bush
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
E-mail Address: FRandall@gov.vg
Over 30 Virgin Islands public sector workers have been trained and certified in Shock Responsive Social Protection System.
The workers which spanned various departments in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Disaster Management engaged in a four-day workshop on the importance of preparing for any shocks, emergencies or crises and how best to implement response strategies that bring immediate relief and also build resilience in the Territory moving forward.
Speaking at the opening ceremony last Tuesday, Minister for Health and Social Development, the Honourable Marlon A. Penn said the training exercise is timely as it aligns with the draft Virgin Islands National Sustainable Development Plan which is now at the public consultation phase.
Honourable Penn said, “It bears emphasising that the Virgin Islands is at a critical juncture in its development, being engaged in significant reform initiatives to strengthen our governance systems, while rebuilding from the ravages of Hurricanes Irma and Maria; and rebooting from the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Events of these magnitudes erode hard-won gains in development and poverty reduction.”
The Minister for Health added that he was pleased to see the deepening relationship between the World Food Programme and the Virgin Islands Government since the World Food Programme (WFP) Caribbean Office opened in 2018. He noted the ministry continues to revolutionise the way the Territory routinely provides support to persons experiencing poverty and vulnerability, but also increases institutional capacity to respond to future shocks.
Honourable Penn said the work also dovetails with a recent Review of Social Assistance Benefits and Grants Administration Systems, which was delivered under the COI Implementation Framework, with assistance from UNICEF.
“These reforms will lead to modern and responsive legal and institutional arrangements and, more importantly, greater transparency, accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency in mobilising public and donor funds to assist persons in need,” he added.
The training programme was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the World Food Programme (WFP). The areas of support in this programme include analysis of social protection programmes and the development of mechanisms, platforms and strategies for their expansion in the event of an emergency; strengthening national information management systems and strategies, and the use of delivery mechanisms of social protection programmes during shocks.
Representative and Country Director for the WFP Caribbean Multi-Country Office Regis Chapman said the Virgin Islands Government in the last six months has encountered challenges in consolidating several Social Protection Programmes within the frameworks of the new Government Assistance Programmes.
Mr. Chapman added, “The World Food Programme and UNICEF have been able to work hand in hand with the Government to make some of these changes a reality.”
Additionally, Director of the Department of Disaster Management Jasen Penn said the training programme will positively influence the work of his staff. He explained that the Territory is committed to Comprehensive Disaster Management which he said is not waiting for a disaster to take action.
Mr. Penn said, “We are proactively planning for all possible hazards and the whole community is involved. This means that for us when it comes to being ready in responding to emergencies and disasters everyone has a role to play.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Development remain committed to training staff in Shock Responsive Social Protection System to better prepare for national emergencies and build resilience moving forward.