Seventy-five (75) Community Development Councillors (CDCs) are set to benefit from three, three-day workshops, aimed at building their capacity to identify problems affecting adolescents and youths, and to design programmes to address these issues.
The participants for these workshops are drawn from Regions Four, Five and Ten.
The first of these workshops, which also has a specific focus on adolescent pregnancy, was held in Region 10, from September 14 to 16 at the Watooka House, in Linden.
Twenty-Five (25) CDCs from the region participated in the exercise, which is being executed by the National Community Development Council (NCDC) in collaboration with the United Nations through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The sessions were facilitated by a UNFPA Liaison Officer and supported by resource personnel sourced from the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Protection, Women across Differences (including adolescent mothers,) and Help and Shelter.
The participants benefitted from enhanced knowledge and skills in areas of identification of social problems of adolescents and youth and casual factor, adolescent growth and development, adolescent needs and the challenges they encounter in their lives, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and links to gender equality and gender based violence.
At the opening of the session, Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Adams-Patterson reminded the gathering that it takes a “community to build a community.” Minister Adams-Patterson pointed out that whilst, it requires political intervention and legislation for decisions to become laws or to be enacted, the onus is on the community to seek to identify the problems affecting residents and their development, and to make suggestions for addressing these problems.
“Community is a process where people come together to identify resources and mobilise to implement strategies to attain the objective they want to accomplish,” the Minister said, and added that, “the time for communities sitting and waiting for people to tell them what to do is over.”
National Director of the NCDC, Eugene Gilbert also restated the importance of having strong representatives to guide the building of resilient communities. Gilbert noted that creating strong communities is in keeping with the vision of President David Granger, hence the reason that the President set up the new system of community governance. Under this new system, several new towns were established and the long awaited local government elections allowed for the community election of representatives best suited for addressing the problems hindering community development, Gilbert stated.
Gilbert urged the participants to value the training so that at the end of the exercise, they will be equipped with the tools and techniques that are required to address some of these issues in their communities.
UNFPA Representative Patrice La Fleur explained that, in recognition that Guyana, through several Ministries, continues to address the “bottlenecks and challenges which continue to plague its population in terms of women and young people”, the UNFPA is collaborating with the Ministry of the Presidency through their Community Development Department to target community development councillors to seek to address some of the several issues that confront young people.
La Fleur said that UNFPA believes that interventions at the community level are a significant investment, and “one which will impact positively on all people.”
La Fleur expressed optimism that the workshop will “engender change within the communities, change that would improve and enhance and improve the livelihoods of families especially adolescent and youths.”
The statistics in Guyana show that the adolescent pregnancy percentage has been fluctuating from 20-22% below the age of 19 years and has remained constant at 1% under 15 years for the last two years (Ministry of Health’s statistical department, PHC Data 2013). In the Hinterland Regions there is a reported increase in adolescent pregnancy.
At the end of the capacity building workshops, not only the participants are expected to acquire knowledge and skills but the UNFPA will gather information crucial to completing its 2014- 2017 Strategic Plan as it relates to increased priority on adolescents, especially the very young, in national development policies and programmes, particularly increased availability of comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services.
The remaining two workshops will be executed before the end of September.