Bahamas RISE Programme to Reduce Poverty, Produce Healthier, Better-Educated Children and Families

Almost 400 persons have already registered for the RISE (Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining, Empowering) Programme which was launched less than one month ago in New Providence.

The RISE Programme is the official name for the country’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme that will be introduced by the Department of Social Services of the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development under the auspices of the Government of The Bahamas’ Social Safety Net Programme, and is being supported by funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Ministry of Social Services and Community Development will be responsible for the execution of the Programme, but has partnered with other government agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Financial Services (Local Government) Department of Statistics, Department of Information Technology and the Bank of The Bahamas to ensure functionality.

The reform, and in particular the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme is similar to programmes that have been established in a number of regional and global countries, among them, Mexico (Las Oportunidades), Jamaica (PATHE), Brazil (Bolsa Familia) and Belize (BOOST) to name a few.

The RISE and CCT Programmes are two cornerstones of the Government of The Bahamas’ efforts at breaking the cycle of poverty in the country.

“Simply put, we are of the view that if we improve the health and education of children in poor households, they will have a better opportunity to be able to rise out of poverty,” Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said Thursday as Guest Speaker at a Zonta Club of Nassau meeting at Luciano’s.

“The main objective of this project is to promote human capital accumulation and poverty alleviation through the consolidation of a number of existing programmes into a Conditional Cash Transfer Programme targeted at the poor and focused on changing behaviours (in order to) improve educational achievement and to achieve a healthier lifestyle among children from poor households.”

Mrs. Griffin said the introduction of the RISE Programme (which commenced Monday, June 29, 2015) will usher in a change in the application process and the method of delivery of assistance to poor and indigent households.

Applicants will be screened by a Proxy Means Test and eligibility determined by a Management Information System (MIS). Households on the Programme will receive a monthly base-benefit to assist with daily living expenses. Pregnant women will be required to meet certain health conditions while households with children will be required to meet certain educational and health conditions which, if met, will provide those households with an additional monthly benefit.

The health and educational components have been determined in consultation with officials of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

“The Government of The Bahamas is extremely concerned with breaking the cycle of poverty and producing healthier and better educated children and families,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“The introduction of the RISE Programme speaks to the importance the Government of The Bahamas has attached to empowering Bahamian families to rise out of poverty and lead a better life.”

Minister Griffin added the next step for registrants of the RISE Programme will be home verifications which are scheduled to commence the week of July 27, 2015 “for persons who have registered and deemed to be pre-eligible for RISE.”

Eligible beneficiaries will then be contacted to complete the enrolment process that will follow.

“Once enrolled, they will receive the payment of benefits,” Mrs. Griffin said. (Bahamas GIS)

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