Fifteen Additional Communities Receive Care Packages

Kingston, Jamaica: The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has extended the reach of its COVID-19 Jamaica Response fund to nine vulnerable communities in Clarendon, St Ann and St Catherine. This is in addition to six communities across St. James and Kingston & St. Andrew that have already received care packages as part of relief distribution efforts.

Head of Mona GeoInformatics Institute, a partner agency of the fund, Dr Parris Lyew Ayee Jr explained that the communities were not randomly or arbitrarily selected; they met a detailed list of specific criteria.

“We used 22 different social and infrastructural variables like population density, unemployment, education, poverty, (the) number of people with diabetes, (the) number of people with hypertension, (the) number of people disabilities, (the) number of pensioners, (the) number of
old people, all that stuff together. And then the combination of all of these variables together determined the most vulnerable” he explained.

All 22 variables were combined for each community across the island and scored accordingly. Twenty five communities were then identified for relief allocation.

“What is important to note here is that we can have a community that is poor, but doesn’t have a lot of old people. And it can have a lot of old people, but it’s not poor. We’re looking at a community that has a lot of old people and poor people and unemployed people, etc, all of the
variables at once, And that’s huge distinction, because people keep thinking, ‘Oh, well, that community is poor, or that community doesn’t have a lot of sick people or diabetics or old people, but you really want to find out which community has all of them,” Dr Lyew Ayee said further.

The fund, formally known as PSOJ COVID-19 Jamaica Response Fund, is a multi-sectoral partnership managed by the umbrella business organization, the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), the United Way of Jamaica (UWJ), and American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ).

It was established to raise and distribute resources for the protection and welfare of Jamaicans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a food aid programme and a line of support for NGOs and health service agencies.

Since it was launched at the beginning of April, the fund has raised $140 million of its targeted $250 million.

“That’s 56 per cent of our target to date,” said CVSS chair Saffrey Brown.

It is expected to roll out in 10 additional communities for a total of 25 before the project wraps up in a couple of months.

“It’s going really well and now that we’ve started the relief efforts we’re looking forward to more coming on board. We need all hands on deck; it really is a team effort so we’re asking companies and individuals to donate. Every dollar counts.” said Brown.