This Conference represented one of the key activities of the program, Network-Based Capacity Building on Social Protection Strategies in the Caribbean, hereafter referred to as Puente in the Caribbean. The Program which is coordinated by the DSDE seeks to improve social protection strategies in the Caribbean, by sharing the lessons of the Chile Puente Program. The Puente in the Caribbean Program was launched as a pilot program in June 2007 in Jamaica and included three Caribbean Countries, namely Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Since its inception, the program has involved a variety of activities and strategies designed to build capacity among social development officers in the participating countries in an effort to improve the approaches to social protection.
The purpose of the Conference was to discuss and share the achievements, challenges and prospects of the Pilot Program to date. Moreover, it served to inform the other CARICOM countries as well as development partners working in the region, on the experiences of the program, to generate feedback from them and to encourage their participation in future programming.
The Conference brought together just over 65 persons including 8 Permanent Secretaries from Ministries of Social Development and the like. Of the 14 CARICOM countries which are member states of the OAS, all except two countries (Haiti and Guyana) were represented. In addition there was representation from 10 regional and international development agencies including ECLAC, the World Bank, ILO, CDB and OECS. In addition to the OAS team, there were delegations from Chile FOSIS and the University of the West Indies, the partner agencies who have been working actively on the program since its inception.