United Nations and Government of Jamaica mark Successful Completion of Joint Programme to Modernise Jamaica’s Social Protection Systems


(L-R) Dennis Zulu, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jamaica, Isiuwa Iyahen, Deputy Representative for UN Women MCO-Caribbean, and the Honourable Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of Labour and Social Security. Photo credit: UN in Jamaica, and Sharon Carter-Burke


April 24, Kingston, Jamaica  - The United Nations Joint Programme, "Modernisation of the Social Protection Systems in Jamaica, Towards an Adaptive, Shock Responsive, Inclusive System" has concluded after a robust programme of work which enhanced social protection payment systems while strengthening the capacity of government to respond to the most vulnerable Jamaicans during emergencies.

With funding exceeding One Million US Dollars (US$1.1 million), the Joint Programme has yielded tangible outcomes in shock-responsive social protection, integrating information systems, and promoting gender equality through policy and legislative frameworks. The Honourable Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of Labour and Social Security, in his keynote address, hailed the technical support components of the programme as being the project’s key legacy with long-term benefits for Jamaica’s public sector.

“Through capacity-building initiatives and digitalisation of targeting mechanisms, we have empowered approximately 150 government offices and service providers to deliver more modern and responsive services, thereby reducing the risk exposure for the most vulnerable members of our society,” Hon. Pearnel Charles, said.

The closure event which took place Wednesday at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Kingston, saw project partners, beneficiaries and stakeholders reflecting on the programme's accomplishments while cementing plans to ensure its efforts are sustained.

“The UN welcomes another opportunity to partner with Jamaica and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to implement this programme. Its success was heightened because of the synergistic efforts among all players and the kind support of the donor community particularly the European Union,” Dennis Zulu, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jamaica said.

“Looking ahead, as we transition from the operational phase of the Joint Programme, I am pleased that we are also incorporating strategies that will allow for its sustainability. On the part of the UN, we will continue to support the Government of Jamaica in strengthening its social protection system, providing technical assistance, and enhancing coordination among key stakeholders. I am confident that Jamaica’s public servants are committed and prepared to put into practice, the growth in their capacity,” Zulu said.

Among the speakers were Lisa Kurbiel, Head of the Joint SDG Fund Secretariat.

According to Kurbiel, the Joint SDG Fund was never intended to be business as usual and we are happy that this programme is impacting Jamaica’s citizens and the most vulnerable in innovative and impactful ways.

“We know that if someone doesn’t get a [cash transfer] payment, then it means that their family may not have dinner. That is the urgency and motivation that guides this effort,” Kurbiel said.

She added: “Additionally, lessons learnt from this Joint Programme have contributed to Jamaica's successful approval of another Joint SDG Fund programme this year. Jamaica’s lessons and successes will be highlighted in the Summit of the Future.

“The EU is proud to be a lead funder in this regard and is particularly pleased with the coordinated approach in which this programme worked,” expressed, Her Excellency, Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador, European Union Delegation to Jamaica, on behalf of the community of donors to the Fund.

Isiuwa Iyahen, DRR of UN Women MCO Caribbean
Isiuwa Iyahen, Deputy Representative of the UN Women MCO-Caribbean, delivering her remarks. Photo credit: Sharon Carter-Burke


In her remarks, Isiuwa Iyahen, Deputy Representative - UN Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean, shared: “UN Women, as a participating UN organisation in the UN SDG Fund Project, was privileged to broaden the knowledge base on gender and the Jamaican Social Protection System. The agency’s analyses confirm that while Jamaica has made significant progress, gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities within Jamaica's social protection system play a pivotal role in shaping the inclusivity and effectiveness of its social safety nets.

An assessment of the PATH programme confirms the positive impact on school attendance and healthcare visits. However, there is a need for the programme to take into account the different needs of men, women, marginalised and vulnerable groups in planning. For example, gender-responsive planning could include separate collection lines for persons with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly. Additionally, more frequent analyses of households with caregivers (the majority of whom are women)are encouraged, in order to identify opportunities for priority access to support programmes such as child care, job skills training, and education support, that would facilitate securing decent employment and hopefully, a sustainable income and eventual exit from the programme,” Iyahen said.

Dana Sacchetti Head of Office, Jamaica, World Food Programme Caribbean Multi-Country Office in his remarks shared the fact that the Programme’s inclusive implementation approach welcomed participation from a wide range of actors spanning government, financial institutions, payment providers, micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, advocacy groups, and most importantly – beneficiaries themselves.

“This work culminated in supporting the government with a clear direction of travel for future innovation in this critical area of service delivery. While the Joint Programme has concluded, WFP reaffirms its commitment to continue to support the Government of Jamaica to further the modernization agenda through continued technical assistance and support,” Sacchetti said.

“Given its catalytic nature, the Joint Programme offered WFP and partner agencies with an excellent foundation on which to ground future opportunities to further strengthen systems for social protection in Jamaica,” Sacchetti added.

Hon. Minister Pearnel Charles speaking with attendees including Her Excellency, Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador, EU Delegation to Jamaica
The Honourable Minister Pearnel Charles Jr. (right) is speaking with attendees including (L-R) Olga Isaza, UNICEF Representative, Her Excellency, Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador, European Union Delegation to Jamaica, and Dr. The Honourable Norman Dunn, Minister of Labour and Social Security. Photo credit: UN in Jamaica


On its part, UNICEF Jamaica Resident Representative, Olga Isaza shard: “The Programme has helped to improve the service quality for families with children and people with disabilities through an enhanced Management Information System that supports registration and certification. The programme has also advanced the Integrated Beneficiary Registry and Social Registry, which ensure database interoperability across social programmes,” Isaza said.

She added that the programme did evidentiarily-well in improving the way the government delivers benefits, considering the barriers and having inclusive and timely mechanisms to accelerate the speed at which people with disabilities get help in emergencies.


About the Joint SDG Fund

The Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund is an innovative instrument to incentivize transformative policy shifts and stimulate the strategic investments required to get the world – especially small island developing states (SIDS) - back on track to meet the SDGs. The Joint SDG Fund is a multi-partner trust fund. To date it has funded 230 joint programmes focused on integrated social protection or SDG finance, it has stimulated over 1,000+ partnerships working together alongside the UN to support the SDGs and it has tested over 300 innovative solutions to accelerate the 2030 Agenda.