The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved funding of US$3.7 million to support at-risk youth in Saint Lucia. The Youth Empowered for Life Project will expand access to existing social services, as well as develop new social programmes to target young people and their families in selected communities across the island.
Saint Lucia is faced with an increasing crime rate, driven in part by inadequate social infrastructure and limited access to social services. Youth in Saint Lucia face disproportionately high levels of unemployment and underemployment, which can lead youth to turn to crime and gang violence. The project will focus on mitigating risk factors that can lead to criminal behaviour, enhance employability, and support community safety and security.
“Through this project, we hope to divert young people away from crime and violence, and enable them to make positive contributions to their households, communities and wider society. The project was designed to meet the needs of different age groups and genders and we are optimistic about the outcomes it will achieve,” said Deidre Clarendon, Division Chief, Social Sector Division, CDB.
The project includes the expansion of existing Youth Court Diversion Programmes, which target youth who have committed minor crimes, in an effort to prevent reoffending. Community-based programmes will also be implemented, including after-school and summer programmes, workshops which focus on skills such as leadership development and training, and the inclusion of sports and expressive arts in communities. The project will also look at options for redevelopment of the George V Park in Castries, which will provide a safe public space for children, young people and families.
In collaboration with the government of Saint Lucia, CDB will also host a regional symposium on community-based policing. This will allow regional stakeholders to share experiences and discuss challenges, lessons learned, and opportunities for addressing crime and insecurity in the region.
The project meets CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development, and integrates gender equality, a cross-cutting theme in its Strategic Plan (2015-2019).