DFID’s Caribbean regional programme will total £75m (US$120m) over the period 2011- 2015.

The UK will help create more than 10,000 jobs and protect dozens of communities from crime as it increases its development commitment to the Caribbean over the next four years, UK Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said during a visit to the region.

In Jamaica, for example, UK assistance will target 50 of the most volatile inner-city areas. An estimated 142,000 residents will get access to basic services, like a reliable water supply and rubbish collection. 13,000 people will receive training and job opportunities and some of Jamaica’s most violent communities will be safer as the police work to tackle violent crime.

The UK will also support law enforcement agencies confiscate the assets of organised criminals in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, with plans to seize £5 million worth of the proceeds of crime over the next four years.

The announcement follows a root and branch review of the countries to which the UK gives aid. It found that, while much of the Caribbean is now firmly ‘middle income’, persistent pockets of poverty remain, for example in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica. The UK is uniquely placed to give development assistance in the region, due to its deep historic and cultural ties, it said.

Andrew Mitchell – who was visiting Kingston – said: “The Caribbean matters to the UK. Not only through our shared history and the Commonwealth, but also through our vibrant shared culture and values.

We will continue to accelerate growth, reduce the risk of natural disasters and cut the blight of violent crime around the islands. I’m serious about our commitment to the Caribbean – which is why I’m announcing that our programme will significantly increase over the next four years.”

The UK Department for International Development’s regional programme will also help 160,000 people whose lives and livelihoods have become vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change and natural disasters. DFID will provide safer buildings, improved water supplies and early warning systems.

DFID’s Caribbean region programme will:

  • Ensure 18 Caribbean countries have national strategies, and the resources and skills to reduce the risks from natural disasters and hazards, for example making sure new houses are hurricane-proof;
  • Help develop affordable micro-insurance to protect up to 68,000 of the region’s poorest when natural disasters strike;
  • Deliver business reforms designed to give more chances to women entrepreneurs;
  • Directly create 10,000 jobs;
  • Improve security, combat crime, mobilise communities and improve the professionalism of the police including through stamping out corruption.

DFID will also support new trade deals with Europe, create more export opportunities and help the Caribbean move towards a single market economy. All of this will help to build a strong, self sufficient Caribbean in the future.

Creating more jobs is vital for the future of the Caribbean, as growth has slowed dramatically and recovery is expected to be slower than elsewhere. The only sure way out of poverty for many people will be to secure jobs.

Crime also holds back the region, with Jamaica suffering a murder rate 50 times higher than the UK’s. Crime deters tourists and investors from coming to the islands, and in some countries gangs control basic services – like water and sanitation – and this makes poverty more acute for many people.

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