PHILIPSBURG — The Child Resilience and Protection Project, a new US$5 million project funded by the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund, has been approved. The Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands and managed by the World Bank. The project was developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) and will be implemented by UNICEF the Netherlands. It aims to strengthen the capacity of Sint 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 Sint Maarten’s children, teachers, and parents following natural disasters and global health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Strengthening the Child Protection System will safeguard children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking during chaotic periods following natural disasters. The project will also support schools to be better equipped to respond to disasters.
“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,” said Michelle Keane, World Bank Program Manager for the Sint Maarten Trust Fund.
With the collaboration of the MECYS, the project will build on existing Government strategies and programs. UNICEF the Netherlands and MECYS will 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 Sint Maarten to consolidate and protect children’s rights. The preparation phases for strengthening the Child Protection system and disaster risk management capacity building in schools have already begun.
“The children of Sint Maarten continue to face hardships caused by circumstances beyond anyone’s control,” added Marieke Roelfsema, Project Manager at UNICEF the Netherlands. “Now with the coronavirus pandemic, it is even more urgent to support children and their families. Together with the Government and civil society partners, we are addressing children’s needs by strengthening services and capacity on Sint Maarten.”