Monday, October 30, 2017

Jamaica’s household workers in the spotlight

Observer column published MON 9 October 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White 2017 Household Workers of the Year, Anthony Houston  (left) and Cherriline Williams-Case (right) proudly enjoy their moment with Minister of Labour and Social Security Honourable Shahine Robinson (second left) and GraceKennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby.
Jamaica’s estimated 60,000 household workers now have the opportunity to join a union which promotes standards beneficial to both workers and employers. “The Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU) is now an official registered Union with over 5,700 members in 13 branches,” said President Shirley Pryce at the recent Household Workers Championships. “We educate, organize, and negotiate collective agreements. We enhance workers’ productivity and promote work harmony. We do mediation services and training and advocate for the rights of household workers.”
IT'S AN HONOUR: The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller (right), shares a light moment with GraceKennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby (left) and Shirley Pryce, President of the Jamaica Household Workers Union at the 4th Staging of the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Awards on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Dr Simpson-Miller was presented with
a Special Award for Outstanding Service to the People of Jamaica in the Areas of Labour, Decent Work and Gender Affairs.
President Pryce said the championships “are also very special because they are named in honour of Heather Little-White.” She noted that she had met her at Grace Kitchens, “where I was one of her first students.”  The inspiring late Dr. Little-White was her mentor: “She encouraged me and pushed me to complete my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees .. I now have an advanced Masters in Labour and Global Workers’ Rights from Pennsylvania State University.”

Yes indeed Shirley Pryce who started her career as a household worker now has a Master’s degree and this year was named Caricom Woman of the Year. As was done by her many mentors, so do we all owe it to our Jamaican family to be supporters of their dreams for a better life.
For the fourth year, the panel of judges for the Household Workers Championships sponsored by GraceKennedy had to blink away their tears as we interviewed the ten finalists. The employers who nominated them declared them to be nurse, teacher, sister, brother, florist, chef, money manager.  They were keepers of the keys: one employer migrated and arranged with the worker and her family to move in and assist an elderly relative. Another misplaced an envelope with thousands of dollars and was promptly called by her worker to return home to retrieve the funds. 
This year’s champions are Cherrilene Williams-Case and Anthony Houston. In their emotional responses, they spoke of the pride they had in their work.  Sadly, too many Jamaicans do not acknowledge the important role that household workers play in our lives; it is this disrespect of our humble, hardworking folks from various walks of life that is manifested in social disorder.

Honour for Former PM Portia Simpson-Miller
Former PM Portia Simpson Miller was honoured at the event as “an icon of public service and political leadership” and for her repeated “acknowledgement that the value of the household worker is inextricably linked to the work you have done.” She received a Special Award for Outstanding Service to the People of Jamaica in the Areas of Labour, Decent Work and Gender Affairs. In the citation, GraceKennedy recognized the former Prime Minister as “an icon of public service and political leadership in Jamaica,” who used her political and public administration platforms over more than forty years to “assist people to attain their dreams and actualize their potential.” 
“I am very proud of Ms. Shirley Pryce who has been a champion and lobbyist for the rights of household workers all around the world,” noted GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby. As a result, the ILO Convention C189 that demands ‘decent work’ conditions for household workers was ratified by PM Holness last September and announced by him at the United Nations General Assembly. We look forward to the implementation of the articles as we believe that it is important that we support a life-work balance for Jamaica’s household workers. 
Our leaders have set a good example. Minister Shahine Robinson, who was guest speaker, noted that her family’s lifelong household worker Miss Edna’s children were like sisters and brothers, a bond that remains strong to this day.  Minister Robinson said that household workers had made a significant contribution to the growth of Jamaica’s economy. She declared, “Jamaica simply could not survive without this important contribution to our households…We salute you for your tireless and often overlooked work.”
Don Wehby shared that his boyhood caregiver Miss Carmen later migrated to New York to be with her children who had done well.  “Every year for my birthday Miss Carmen would send me US$20 in a card,” he told us. He became misty as he added, “This was the first year I didn’t get one, as she is no longer with us.”  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fifty one new grants for Jamaica's climate change adaptation

Great news to strengthen Jamaica's environmental resilience! 

Kingston, Jamaica. October 20, 2017. Fifty one community and civil society organisations will be implementing projects to boost climate change adaptation in Jamaica after being awarded grants totalling J$228,000,000.00 under the Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund (SCCAF) – one of two funding mechanism under the Adaptation Programme and Finance Mechanism Project (AP&FM) of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

"We are very excited that the AP&FM-PPCR is out there in the field, across the nooks and crannies of Jamaica, making its mark in building adaptation capacities. We are happy to be partnering with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) which is administering the funds on behalf of the project to ensure that Jamaica can adapt to adverse climate impacts,' said Dr Winsome Townsend, Project Manager of the AP&FM.

In July 2016 the AP&FM collaborated with the EFJ to start providing grant financing to community based and sector drive adaptation initiatives island-wide. The SCCAF is financed by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) and disbursed through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in the amount of US$4.7 Million. In order to qualify for the grants interested entities respond to a Call for Proposals put out by the EFJ.

From the Call for Proposals in 2016 EFJ got 81 proposals and 29 were funded. For 2017's call one hundred and eighteen (118) proposals were received and fifty-one (51) have been approved. Approximately J$361.56 million has been allocated to the 80 approved projects.

"We will be signing the grant agreements with the 51 successful organisations at on Tuesday, October 24 at 10am at the New Kingston Business Centre on Dominica Drive. At that time we will also be doing some training with them to build their capacity to administer the grants,' said Barrington Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the EFJ.

Collectively, of the 80 projects awarded 5 parishes received 72.5% of the grants – Manchester 20% (16 projects), Clarendon 16.25% (13 projects), St Andrew 13.75% (11 projects), St Ann 12.50% (10 projects) and St. Elizabeth 10% (8 projects).

The projects will help to reduce Jamaica's vulnerability to climate change. The island has been experiencing impacts such as stronger hurricanes, severe flooding, prolonged droughts and sea level rise. Between 2001 and 2012 Jamaica experienced 11 storm events (including 5 major hurricanes) and several flood events - loss and damage amounting to about J$128.54 billion.

The   Government   of   Jamaica   (GOJ), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank developed Jamaica's Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) to help the country to strengthen its climate resilience through enhancing adaptive capacity across priority sectors.  Jamaica's PPCR has 5 projects being implemented to address varying areas of vulnerability (


The AP&FM is a part of Jamaica's PPCR. It works to help Jamaica adjust more easily to climate change. It supports the integration of climate change issues into development planning by government agencies. It also provides funds for climate change adaptation work in small and medium businesses as well as communities islandwide. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and is funded to the tune of USD19, 869,963 by the Climate Investment Fund through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the government of Jamaica.


For further information contact:

Indi Mclymont-Lafayette

Communications Specialist

Adaptation Programme & Financing Mechanism (AP&FM)

for the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) Jamaica:

Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation

16a Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5

Tel: 633-7529 or 294-3608.


Photo Captions:

Head shots of:

1)       Dr Winsome Townsend, Project Manager of the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism (AP&FM) of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR)

2)      Barrington Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica


Indi Mclymont-Lafayette
Development Communications Specialist