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Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Winad: East PoS crime a complex problem
Crime, especially in east Port-of-Spain, is not a battle to be won, but a complex problem that can only be solved through social, cultural, economical, and psychological interventions. “We must not simplify people’s lives. Our lives are complex...you’ve got to look at the layers, the influences and we have to build our responses based on those needs.”
So said Folade Mutota, executive director of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (Winad). In an interview with the Sunday Guardian at her Belmont office, she said battling crime suggested “two sides slugging it out until somebody was victorious.” Mutota said this approach, which usually involved increasing the number of cars and equipment available to the police, has been going on for too long. She said law enforcement was necessary but it shouldn’t be the only response.
An audit of skilled and unskilled workers who are unemployed was needed in vulnerable communities like east Port-of-Spain, Mutota said. The East Port-of-Spain Development Company could be charged with this responsibility, Mutota suggested but added: “We could pull from that pool and introduce a robust management system to do recruitment and to get projects done with quality, in time and within budget.”
Without this data, projects like Colour Me Orange was destined to fail, she said. “How many of them in this project were masons, carpenters, or people with other vocational skills?...You have to tell me who the people in east Port-of-Spain are, because if I don’t know, how would I plan for them?” Dialogue was lost in the battleground approach, Mutota said. “You need to have dialogue with those with power in the communities.”
She said dialogue should focus on building community cohesion. “It can’t be people in a room saying they want contracts and you give them contracts to pacify them.” To bring about quality dialogue, participatory governance was needed, Mutota said. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s meeting with residents was only part of this governance model, she added.
“A forum where each Cabinet minister will meet the non-governmental organisations which fall under his or her ministry and give an update on the ministry’s strategic plan,” would be an example of quality dialogue, she said.
In the case of National Security, Mutota said the minister needed to engage the experts in NGOs in a critical analysis about crime preventative and reduction strategies. Saying that NGOs were willing to sit down and help support implementation, Mutota said: “That forum brings a responsibility not only on the Cabinet minister, but also on us as citizens.”
The Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (Winad) was founded in 1999 to provide guidance to young girls through an Inter-generational women’s leadership programme. Since 2000, the organisation has been looking at trends in gun violence and is the secretariat for a regional coalition of NGOs from 12 Caricom member states which examines gun violence in the region. Winad is also part of international networks that work on prevention and reduction of gun violence, globally.
Their work is based on three pillars—research, advocacy, and sensitisation.
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