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Creating opportunities for community participation with EU funds

From recognising diabetes symptoms to training in dispute resolution, Grenada’s Non-State Actor Advisory Panel is reaching into communities in collaboration with civil society groups.

Non-State Actor (NSA) Advisory Panels are established through the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific States. Chairman of Grenada’s panel, Dr Dunstan Campbell, said the current cycle of support focuses on health. The panel has a budget of $395,151 allocated for the period January 2020 to March 2021, as reported during a press briefing on Thursday.

Looking ahead Dr Dunstan said the panel can examine current issues in a manner that is different from the past. He cited the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association as an example in that the panel can put together an unbiased educational program to help farmers understand the meaning of shares, liberalisation and a merger. Interim secretary Sandra Ferguson suggested the proposed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Control Bill, 2020 as another option.

The European Union describes the panels in the Eastern Caribbean as “non-partisan bodies comprising some 8-13 organisations representative of the civil society. Examples are community based organisations, trade unions, women’s groups, farmers’ societies or business associations.”

Ferguson noted that in Grenada civil society groups have taken the most interest in the panel, observing that other non-state actors “do not appreciate the opportunities that the panel presents.”

The panel is working with the St. George’s Lions Club and the Grenada Diabetes Association (GDA) to deliver a variety of programmes. With diabetes the third leading cause of death in Grenada, training and education addressed this disease.

Gloria Bonaparte of the St George’s Lions Club reported on activities in the Parishes of Saint Mark and Saint John. She noted that the club worked with the GDA and Grencase in delivering services in Saint John during the six-week interactive training that commenced in July. People living with diabetes, family members and caregivers learned about managing this chronic disease. One of the objectives is to give those suffering with diabetes “the tools to live a successful life,” she said.

Training for Saint Mark is set to begin on September 10 at the Anglican Pastoral Centre. The club is working with the Charles Memorial Institution in Victoria and Grencase in delivering the health education training. Future sessions in the two parishes will examine foot ailments associated with diabetes, as well a visit with secondary school students in Saint Mark to discuss eye care.

Similarly, the GDA conducted training and provided support services for persons and families impacted by the disease, including the provision of some materials. Alister Antoine said the association provided the training to educators who are not health professionals, but who can be leaders and resource persons in their communities, noting that retired personnel are part of this initiative.

“We hope that we can trickle down that information from the (association) to the community so persons will take responsibility for their health,” he said, as this can prevent complications, or even reverse some symptoms.

Interim secretary Ferguson reported on responsibilities of the panel to facilitate deeper involvement of civil society in Grenada’s partnership with the EU and to participate in political dialogue, policy dialogue and programming. Sessions included proposal writing and dispute resolutions, as well as three national budget workshops; and emphasized the importance of enhancing the capacity for advocacy, public education and awareness regarding sustainable development goals and economic literacy.

The Non State Actors Advisory Panel was launched in Grenada in September, 2009 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the EU. Achievements by previous NSA panels include working on a food security project to support the eradication of hunger, submitting recommendation on the 2008-2009 Country Poverty Assessment and consulting on several issues, including land and marine management and Constitutional Reform. The panel provided input for the Alternative Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Management Plan and Renewable Energy Readiness Assessment.

Membership has fluctuated over the years as some members of the panel were unable to serve for varying reasons. Chairman Dunstan admitted the panel “was weakened” by people not being in Grenada.

The current Co-operation Protocol covers the period July 15, 2018 to June 14, 2021 and “aims to renew the internal procedures and the co-operations of the NSA panel with the Government and the EU delegation.” Panel members “agree to conduct their duties in a non-partisan manner and in the collective interest of Grenada.”

Signatories representing the following groups and categories (in parenthesis) are on the Co-operation Protocol of Grenada’s NSA advisory panel: Media Workers of Grenada (media); Grenada National Organisation of Women (women); Private Sector Organisation; Herman Peters (disabled); Joseph Antoine (environment and heritage); TAMCC (community based organisation); D Campbell (farmers); Roger Williams (health); Judy Williams (development non-government organisation); faith based organisation (AEG); and Grenada Association of Retired Persons (elderly).

In subsequent meetings of the panel, participating groups included People In Action, North West Development Authority, Grenada Network of Rural Women Producers, Friends of the Earth Grenada, Grenada National Association of the Disabled, Alliance of Evangelical Churches, Obama for Peace Foundation, Grencoda and the Genesis Nutmeg Value Added Co-operative.

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