KINGSTON, March 30, 2022 – Three UN agencies and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) today launched a new effort to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable and to enhance Jamaica’s social protection system to better respond to future shocks.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will be implementing the US $1.1 million joint programme “Modernization of the Social Protection Systems in Jamaica: Towards an Adaptive, Shock Responsive, Inclusive System”.
Globally, evidence shows that vulnerable groups are disproportionately bearing the burden of the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly women and persons living in poverty.
A survey conducted recently by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and UNICEF revealed the difficult realities faced by Jamaican families in coping with the impact of COVID-19.
The findings showed that 80% of households reported a reduction in income during the pandemic, with significantly greater loss for families in the lower socio-economic brackets. The survey also found that only 50% of families had enough to support the household’s basic needs for a maximum of two weeks. A February 2022 CARICOM and WFP Survey found that 57% of respondents had faced job loss or reduced income as a result of the pandemic.
The joint programme will introduce tools to better identify persons who face acute socio-economic challenges due to major shocks, such as pandemics and disasters, and strengthen the mechanisms and systems utilized by the Government to provide support to beneficiaries. A key innovation will be the piloting of electronic payments to enable more efficient and faster payments, with an emphasis on payments for persons with disabilities.