The World Bank has approved a new US$5 million Child Resilience and Protection Project, funded by the St. Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience Trust Fund.
The Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands and managed by the World Bank.
The Washington-based financial institution said the project was developed under the leadership of the St. Maarten Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) and will be implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Netherlands.
The project aims to strengthen the capacity of St. Maarten’s education and child protection systems “to respond to the needs of children and adolescents.
“It is critical to support the psychological well-being of St. Maarten’s children, teachers and parents following natural disasters and global health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bank said.
“Strengthening the Child Protection System will safeguard children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking during chaotic periods following natural disasters,” the World Bank said. “The project will also support schools to be better equipped to respond to disasters.”
Michelle Keane, World Bank Programmed Manager for the St. Maarten Trust Fund, said that “supporting communities’ psychological well-being is an important element of long-term disaster recovery and resilience.
“This project was designed to strengthen the systems that keep children safe, support teachers and parents, and improve the disaster preparedness of schools,” she said.
With the collaboration of the MECYS, the World Bank said the project would build on existing government strategies and programs.
UNICEF, the Netherlands, and MECYS would provide comprehensive psychosocial interventions at the school, family, and community levels.
“Together with MECYS, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) and the Ministry of Justice (JUS), the project will strengthen the Child Protection system on St. Maarten to consolidate and protect children’s rights,” the bank said.
The preparation phases for strengthening the Child Protection system and disaster risk management capacity building in schools have already begun.
“The children of St. Maarten continue to face hardships caused by circumstances beyond anyone’s control,” said Marieke Roelfsema, Project Manager at UNICEF, the Netherlands.
“Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, it is even more urgent to support children and their families,” Roelfsema added. “Together, with the Government and civil society partners, we are addressing children’s needs by strengthening services and capacity on St Maarten.”