SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform and the Consumers Coalition had a press conference on Thursday and covered the four issues below.
- Today the International Day of Eradication of Poverty
- Update on the Affordable Health Food and Nutrition Program
- Our Affordable Social Housing Program
- Updates from the WICLU union meetings
Topic 1: Today the International Day of Eradication of Poverty
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is annually observed on the 17th of October. This according to the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992. It was the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski for Overcoming Extreme Poverty of 32 years ago on October 17— and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty — which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day
End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The UN explains: Extreme poverty rates have fallen by more than half since 1990. While this is a remarkable achievement, one-in-five people in developing regions still live on less than $1.90 a day. Millions more make little more than this daily amount and are at risk of slipping back into extreme poverty. Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG1) aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
The theme this year is: Acting Together to Empower Children, their Families and Communities to End Poverty. In addition to the commemorative event to be held by the United Nations in New York on 17 October, commemorations of the international day are being organized worldwide. The online community is asked to use #End Poverty to share messages about the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty via social media.
Here in St Maarten the University of Saint Martin (USM), the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) and UNESCO St Maarten in commemoration of this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will kick of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) seminar series on SDG 1 NO POVERTY with two guest speakers who will elaborate on the Topic Combating Poverty in St Maarten. Topics which the presenters will reflect on are:
- What initiatives have been taken to combat poverty on St Maarten?
- What is the poverty line on St Maarten
- Can we eradicate poverty on St Maarten?
Ms. Loekie Morales from the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) will give an introduction on the Sustainable Development Goals and the SDG 1 NO POVERTY goal in particular. From government Ms. Rose Pooran-Fleming policy advisor Social Development at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) will present the policies of the government of St Maarten to combat poverty in St Maarten, whereas your servant (Raymond Jessurun) of the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform will share the struggle of the platform to eradicate not only extreme poverty but also the relative poverty in this part of the Kingdom.
While this broadcast will air in the news of this evening and tomorrow the event will take place in the USM Lecture Hall from 7-8.30 pm. Doors will be opened on 6.30 pm. We will try to get a recording of the presentations and will definitely come back in our subsequent press conferences with our analysis of the seminar on this NO POVERTY topic.
Topic 2: More than 35.000 views for video on Affordable Health Food and Nutrition Program
As we have been informing you the Anti-Poverty Platform / Consumers Coalition initiative is still the talk of talk of the town.
- Not only locally but also internationally the Affordable Health Food and Nutrition Program for the poor and needy households and the Consumers in Sint Maarten is getting a lot of attention.
- The interview which the Dutch reporters of Caribbean Network did when they visited the health fair when the second container arrived have received more than 35.000 views already
- Looking at the amount of shares, likes and comments on social media which videos on our health fair are getting aired by local reporters such as SXM Daily News, 721 NEWS, and our own public broadcasts, we can conclude that we have definitely got the attention not only of our society but also abroad in the Kingdom and in the region.
Membership and Attendance registration.
The most interesting figures which proof the successful response of the local consumers are the following:
- We have now more than 3000 members in our program! The first container brought 1300 members in the program, the second container brought 1200 new members in the program, and this week another 500 new members signed up for the program.
- How often members are making use of the program? Since Saturday we started to register the attendance of each member to get an idea. More than 1500 persons came to purchase their produce, and some visited the WIFOL more than once during this week!
- Members are asking why they have to write their name and phone number each time they come if they have registered already as a member. There is no better proof than you own handwriting to proof that you were present.
- The statistics we get out of these data will proof to government and the community that our members do want the fresh quality and affordable fruits, veggies and provision is not a onetime hype, but a regular need of our members.
- Limes, Green peppers, cucumbers, carrots, watermelon, tamarind, coconuts, provision, spices like cinnamon, thyme are high in demand.
- This third container in no time the green peppers, carrots were finished.
- There are always obstacles to confront. One of the obstacles is the need for volunteers to start early in the morning and the challenge to handle the line of patient members with their shopping bags much faster. We hereby appeal to our members to give us at least 4 hours a week of your time to volunteer with the United Consumers Association.
- We are grateful for the assistance of the volunteers who have supported us in the program so far. Our volunteers who are also consumers understand the vision that to keep the prices affordable not only for themselves but also for all their volunteering is showing the solidarity with all consumers.
Reminder for our event coming Saturday Oct 19 10 am to 16 pm
- Free Health Screening, health information, personal diet advise from 10 am to 16 pm
- Thanks to assistance from stakeholders such as the Collective Preventative Services (CPS), the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC)
- Do not miss this opportunity to check your health condition and ask questions related to your specific health condition
Topic 3: Our Affordable Social Housing Program
As addressed in our former press conferences apart from our Affordable Health Food and Nutrition Program, we embarked also on an Affordable Social Housing Program. The objectives of this program are to bring down the prices of house rent and to provide more resilient social housing for the 13.000 poor and needy households.
Government and the World Bank have concluded that Irma has damaged structurally 13.000 to 15.000 of the more than 19.000 housing units in St Maarten! Yet not even a 1000 homes have been repaired with Dutch funding. With this speed of 1000 homes in two years the 13.000 to 15,000 homes will be rebuild better in the coming 26 to 30 years !! This is unacceptable especially with the risk every year of another hurricane.
The campaign encourages the poor and needy households to file their complaint about the rent they are paying now for a housing condition that still needs repair to be a resilient home. The campaign will demand to bring down the rent just as the Belvedere tenants of the Housing Foundation have managed in court! Also a more permanent solution of 15.000 affordable social homes to be built by the Kingdom government in one year time will be demanded in court based on the huge violation of the human right to adequate housing for years now in this part of the Kingdom.
This evening two of our co-coordinators will give information about this program to the members of the Down Town Business and Consumers Association at 7 pm in the John Larmonie Center.