From left to right – Early Childhood Specialist at UNICEF, Shelly-Ann Harper; Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey; and United Nations Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, pose for a photograph following their recent meeting. (B. Hinds/BGIS)

As Government continues to work towards strengthening its social protection agencies, concerns have been raised over the lack of data.

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, highlighted the issue during a recent courtesy call with United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, and Early Childhood Specialist at UNICEF, Shelly-Ann Harper. They were joined by Permanent Secretary, Jehu Wiltshire; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mark Franklin, and other Ministry officials.

During the visit, Minister Humphrey said work was being done to amalgamate the Welfare Department, National Disabilities Unit, Child Care Board and the National Assistance Board.

He further explained that “great strides” were made towards Government’s overall social protection policy, which would also see the establishment of Child Protection legislation, an elderly policy, and legislation for persons with disabilities.

He said that over the last two-and-half years, the island’s social services were called on to rethink, retool and re-engage in how they do business, but noted that there was a strong need to gather recent data.

“Without data we cannot get anything done. We need to look at the cost of caring and not caring. We need to look at the cost of caring for children and older people,” the Minister pointed out.

He explained that as people aged, the gap between what they need and what Government provides is getting wider.

He emphasised the importance of getting data on the changing trends in the Ministry and across Government so resources could be better deployed.

In response, Mr. Trebucq noted that the UN system had established strong collaboration and partnerships over the years, and stood willing to provide further support if required to make the process more coherent.

The UN Representative also shared other initiatives and work done to support efforts being undertaken in Barbados.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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