Stock Photo courtesy of Ministry of Agriculture.??

A renaming of Government’s Soil Conservation Unit (SCU), the upgrading of its top position and efforts to improve staff morale are among recommended changes made for the Unit.

These recommendations were revealed by consultants during the closing ceremony for the sub-regional project entitled: LDC-SIDS Targeted Portfolio Approach to Sustainable Land Management, held at Hilton Barbados recently.

The institutional strengthening of the SCU was one of three priority areas identified under the Global Environmental Facility-funded project which ran for 18 months.

Referring to the 150-page report, prepared on the review of the SCU, Consultant, Derrick Oderson, said recommendations were made to have the SCU renamed the Soil Conservation Department.

Mr. Oderson also told those present that the lack of statutory functions and authority of the officer-in-charge at the SCU was another issue which needed to be addressed.

"The person in charge of the Soil Conservation Unit’s title is officer-in-charge of the Soil Conservation Unit. You have a director of the Coastal Zone [Management Unit], you have a director of the Natural Heritage Department, you have a Chief Town Planner, and you have an officer-in-charge of the Soil Conservation Unit," the Consultant pointed out.

He stressed that they were recommending that the top position at the SCU be strengthened and upgraded by legislation. "We are also recommending that the other staffing positions should also be addressed and incorporated within the legislation," Mr. Oderson said.

Consultant, Akhentoolove Corbin, also noted that the person responsible for human resources at the SCU, under the old public service system, was a personnel officer, but he stressed the job title should be changed to that of human resources officer.

He added that there was also the perception among the majority of staff that the SCU was considered a "dumping ground". "There is a perception in the public service that you are punished when you are sent to the Soil Conservation Unit. It is a serious perception, and a cultural shift needs to occur. We are of the view that the structure needs to change that," he said.

Mr. Corbin added that the rank and file at the Unit believed that no one thought they were important, and noted that morale and perceptions of self-worth were very low. "These are significant issues which need to be addressed in a revamped organisation," he suggested.

He added that there were also issues with high levels of absenteeism from a human resources perception and insufficient training of staff.


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