Awardees of the Grant for Non-profit Organisation are: Ricky Wilson of Carib Invest; Elroy Payne of St. James Secondary School; June Schuffler of??the Barbados Horticultural Society; Nicole Garofano of the Future Centre Trust; Billy Gollop of the Barbados National Trust; Christopher Hackett of the??Jordan Hackett Kempo Karate School; Richard Jordan??of the Jordan Hackett Kempo Karate School and Kemar Cumberbatch of the St. Joseph Parish Independence Committee. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

Harrison’s Cave has been hailed as a first-class example of environmental stewardship, community participation and effective partnership worth emulating.

This commendation came from Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, Gayle Francis-Vaughan.?? She was delivering the feature address at a presentation of grant funds totalling $800,000 to seven Non-profit Organisations, involved in environment projects, at the spanking multi-million dollar facility.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary, who was deputising for Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, said:?? "Harrison’s Cave stands as a sterling example of one of the first places to promote community involvement and genuinely address the community’s needs and incorporate its vision. From the initial stages when Harrison’s Cave was re-discovered, to the point where it was promoted as the greatest national attraction, community involvement and mobilisation have been instrumental to this success story."

Charging that?? partnership between communities, NGOs and Government "can, and does work,"?? the Deputy Permanent Secretary contended:?? "Given what?? we know is possible, as evidenced by our surroundings, our wish is that each of you use this grant funding to initiate something as special and as enduring in each of your?? own communities and in your own spheres. We also wish that just like Harrison’s Cave,

these continue to grow, and to connect, and to expand until we develop a model of participatory governance that is the envy of the Caribbean, if not the world."

To this end, Mrs. Francis-Vaughan pointed out that the Ministry had also developed an Environmental Prospectus to be shared with its community partners, which should simplify the application process and encourage an even more diverse pool of applicants.??

The main thrust of the grant fund, she explained, was to encourage innovative, environmentally-oriented projects. As such, the senior official noted that the types of initiatives being financed this year included: those devoted to youth?? development; community and school waste management; community beautification; gardening and sustainable agriculture; sport and environmental programmes; sustainable community tourism; community forestry; community-based climate adaption and renewable energy projects.

Mrs. Francis-Vaughan stated that the call for proposals for next year’s awards had started and would continue throughout this year, with the applications scheduled to be evaluated between October and December and funds presented in January.

In delivering the welcome address, Environmental Education Officer, Donna King-Brathwaite, said the fund, which became part of the ministry’s annual budget between 2002 and 2003; had grown from $60,000 to $150,000 annually, as a result of growing demand from community groups and other NGOs.

"We at the Ministry firmly believe that hands-on experiences in addressing environmental issues, will provide the impetus for promoting environmental stewardship in and around local communities. We, therefore, look forward to building more partnerships between our Ministry and our communities, and I hope that you, the grantees, will encourage others to follow your sound examples of good stewardship, and they too will participate in this programme," she underlined.

This year’s grantees are: The Future Centre Trust; Carib Invest; Barbados Horticultural Society, St. Joseph Parish Independence Committee; the Barbados National Trust; St. James Secondary School’s Environmental Club and the Jordan Hackett Kempo Karate School.

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