Over the years the US Embassy in Belize has played an integral role in contributing to the country’s overall development through their Central American Regional Security Initiative Economic Support Fund (CARSI ESF) Grants. The fundamental role of these grants are to provide economic sustainability and support to key organizations whose main goals and objectives are to foster a change towards positive development in all countries globally. Today four organizations, Humana People to People – Belize, the Love Foundation, Research Triangle Institute International and the University of Florida who partnered with local Belizean organizations to develop their plans towards a positive outreach, were all recipients of the CARSI ESF Grant. Keith Gilges, Charge d’ Affaires spoke about the grant initiative and its purpose.
Keith Gilges US Charge d’ Affairs: CARSI USF is a key piece of our Central American Starety. In this case it is how we tangibly support the good governance and peace of that strategy. We have a awarded over $7 million US in CARSI EF grants to non government organizations in Belize since 2008. This funding is one part of the over $42,000,000 the US have committed to Belize through the entire CARSI Program. For the first eight years these grants focused on economic prosperity and citizen security, the other two components of the Central American strategy. Those projects address the root causes of crime and violence by providing early guidance, alternative activities and job training to at risk youth and other vulnerable populations. Last year we shifted the focus to the grant program across the region to concentrate on good governance. Good governance encompases many things and differnt nations face different challenges. Here in Belize we are focusing on building citizen participation a in the oversight of government, reducing corruption and making government accountable. To that end we ask our 2018 grant nominees to focus on at least one of two objectives; first to strengthen civil society organizations and civil service knowledge and skills to develop policies and procedures in reducing corruption and impunity and improving accountability and second to increase and enhance partnerships between civil society and government to improve service delivery and accountability.
Gilges further explains why the two themes were chosen and the role they play in promoting good governance in Belize and throughout Central America.
Keith Gilges US Charge d’ Affairs: “Citizen participation is critical to the democratic process, it is the only way to influence public decisions so that they address your needs. It is the only way the realistically hold policy makers accountable, ultimately it is the only way to ensure that the next generation gets involved and continues the hard work of running a free nation. A profession civil service or a public service as it called here is equally important to good governance regardless of who holds elective office, public servants are the people who have to do day to day work. If they do not have resources they need including training and professional development there is no way that government can effectively and transparently do its job. On a bigger scale a well functioning government that has the confidence of its people is not only better for its own country. It is also a stronger international partner and a strong bowl work against those things that threaten all of us like transnational crime or natural disasters. As we hear from this years grantees, the CARSI ESF Program is a way to turn Belize’s good governance ideas in to reality.
He also explains the impact the CARSI ESF will have on civil societies and thanks all applicants while congratulating the successful recipients of the grant.
Keith Gilges US Charge d’ Affairs: “The CARSI ESF grants program provides an opportunity for civil society organizations to affect change by strengthening their role in improving governance and supporting a professional non partisan public service. Their exciting work is really what we are about here today so let me close by thanking all of the 2018 applicants and congratulating our specific grantees Humana, People to people belize, Love foundation , the research triangle institute international and the University of florida. THe United States is proud to partner with all of you and I look forward to watching these projects take shape over the next two years.
For their projects, the Humana People to People – Belize, who partnered with NEMO and the Ministry of Health received three hundred seventy thousand, three hundred seventy US dollars for their goal towards strengthening emergency and disaster response in vulnerable communities by building capacities and improving collaboration and service delivery in Southern Belize. The Love Foundation which partnered with the University of Belize and Ministry of Public Service received two hundred eighty eight thousand, seven hundred seventeen US dollars towards their project stomping out corruption and kicking in transparency. The Research Triangle Institute International partnered with the Belize Association of Planners and the Statistical Institute of Belize received three hundred ten thousand, two hundred fifty six US dollars, towards improving the Data Ecosystem for Governance Decision Making in Belize. The University of Florida which is working with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment and the Ministry of Education, received two hundred seventy five thousand, nine hundred ninety five US Dollars for their project, Strengthening civil society and civil servant capacity in Belize through Partnership.