November 18, 2015
Hon. Michael Darville, Minister for Grand Bahama
Acting Director Lillian Quant-Forbes
Deputy Director Kim Sawyer & Staff of the Social Safety Net Unit
Assistant Director Paula Marshall & Staff of the Department of Social Services, Grand Bahama
Rev. Peter Pinder, President, Bahamas Christian Council
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to be here with you today in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama as I introduce the Department of Social Service’s new revolutionary signature programme, RISE. The acronym RISE stands for Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining and Empowering - a Conditional Cash Transfer Programme.
In 2004 the dialogue on the need for reform commenced, following a study of the country's safety net, which was commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank. In August 2012, the Government of the Bahamas entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank for the implementation of social safety net reform in The Bahamas.
This reform which includes:
· strengthening the institutional capacity of the Department of Social Services
· the installation of a state of the art Management Information System to ensure the smooth processing of requests from registration to payment
· improved targeting through a Proxy Means Test. The Proxy Means Test is an instrument that ensures those in need are objectively assessed; and
· a new payment delivery system for approved beneficiaries.
Those of you on the food programme would have already experienced the benefits of the Prepaid Card that was introduced in Eight Mile Rock in July as the first phase of RISE.
Ultimately this reform of the delivery of service to qualified families will ensure that as an agency we are more responsive, efficient and effective in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. Hence with the introduction of RISE several existing assistance programmes, inclusive of our major Food and Uniform Assistance programmes will be consolidated.
Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes were first introduced in the 1990’s and are currently operating in many countries such as Mexico (Oportunidades), Jamaica (PATHE), Brazil (La Bolsa Familia). Our programme is known as RISE.
The main objectives of RISE are to promote human capital development and alleviate poverty with the focus being on changing behaviors to improve educational achievement and a healthier lifestyle among poor households.
Our objective - to help families improve levels of health and education can only be achieved through partnership. We have therefore partnered with a number of agencies including the Ministries of Health and Education, the Department of Information Technology, Department of Statistics, and the Bank of the Bahamas. Those of you who will become the beneficiaries of RISE will also be our partners and you will be required to meet what we call co-responsibilities. This is in line with our programme slogan, Together we RISE! It is important that you know that we are in this together and we must work it together. You will hear more about the co-responsibilities later.
In June the public relations campaign for RISE was implemented and we introduced our jingle, the slogan and appeared on various television and talk shows, as well as speaking engagements at service clubs.
Also in June the pilot of RISE commenced the Wulff Road Center with the food assistance recipients. To date over seven hundred recipients of the food assistance programme have been administered the Proxy Means Test. We also introduced RISE to North Andros in September and to date have administered the Proxy Means Test to approximately 100 households in North Andros.
As we continue the pilot phase of this initiative, we are here to begin this process in Eight Mile Rock. As food assistance beneficiaries you will all be required to go through the Proxy Means Test. I urge you to visit Social Services office here in Eight Mile Rock once the date is announced. As I previously mentioned the food assistance programme will be consolidated therefore even though you may have been recently reassessed for the food programme for the prepaid card you will need to register for RISE and be administered the Proxy Means Test.
Once it is determined that you are eligible for RISE, the next step will be the enrollment, which we will commence shortly at the Wulff Road Center and then here in Eight Mile Rock.
Please participate in the registration process as we implement this new programme and work toward breaking the cycle of poverty on our families. We cannot do this alone, Together We RISE!
Thank you and God bless you!