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Five communities throughout T&T Tobago will partner with two major players in the private sector as the Ministry of Community Developments officially engages the first phase of the National Policy on Sustainable Community Development.

This new policy will see Digicel and the National Gas Company (NGC) partner with five communities– Diego Martin, Perseverance Village, Marabella, La Brea and Canaan Bon/Accord to create sustainable development projects.

The programme was launched yesterday and according to senior communications officer of the Division, Amrita Maharaj-Dube, this programme is set to be a game-changer even as the country comes to terms with economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a very comprehensive approach to reset the fundamental approach to one which is community-led, a government approach that really encompasses the academic fraternity and international organisations like UNDP, IADB and the private sector to ensure a deep and lasting change takes place at the community level.” Maharaj-Dube said.

President of the National Gas Company of T&T Limited Mark Loquan said giving voice, choice and agency to community groups empowered them to design their own futures.

“One of our earliest interventions, the Marine Environment Awareness programme was implemented to train communities in boat building and repair, fishing net manufacturing and repair. Prior to this training, the fishermen would have to send their boats to other communities to get fixed,” he said.

He said the programme was also extended to include food processing, fish preservation through salting and smoking and food preparation. And the programmes allowed people to launch small businesses, which also gave life to corporations.

CEO of the Digicel Foundation T&T Penny Gomez said, “We have partnered with 103 NGO’S in the last five years we spent over TT$3.5 million and for us while we have gone into communities and implemented programs that really looked at creating systematic change, so having partnered with Marabella and Perseverance is really the next step for us.”

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said the policy is geared towards making communities a centre for development productivity and growth, which is indicative of the theme “Putting People First Nurturing Our Greatest Asset.”

“A community need may range from infrastructure to employment, education to health, skills training to sanitisation, entrepreneurship to environment and treating with these matters require more than an intervention from the state.”

Details of the projects are still to be outlined, however, the ministry will announce the names of the people in the various areas that have been selected to form the committees today. These people will spearhead the consultation process at the community level.