I described the dilemma of our non-governmental organisations (with one or two exceptions) that are scraping along in an earlier post. Our environmental NGOs are no exception. JET is the most high-profile of these I believe, due to their strenuous advocacy on behalf of our environment in the past decade or two (the NGO celebrated its 25th anniversary last year). JET has done an enormous amount of work over the years, with a great deal of success. No one can deny the organisation’s impact on society; in fact, it is a household name, in many ways. If an environmental concern comes up, it’s always “Ask JET.”
What most Jamaicans would not know, however, is that JET is a very small team, with considerable needs in terms of finance and in-kind resources. The private sector has stepped up with support in the past, and so have one or two public sector agencies. However, with one of the latter entities no longer able to provide funding for a key project (Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica), and many other needs piling up, its needs are now great.
I talked to Suzanne Stanley, the CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) recently about how the organisation sees itself going into 2018, in terms of financial resources. Here is what Stanley had to say – starting with ways in which you can help JET keep up its good work:
WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN HELP JET:
Many people call JET to say they are “very concerned about the environment,” but they are not a member of JET.
…give JET the ability to have core staff (who don’t leave when a project stops being funded). The core staff keeps the organisation going and is able to write proposals for new projects, look for funding etc;
…pay for things project donors don’t pay for (CEO supervision, utilities, insurance, rent, bearer, ancillary staff, property maintenance and repairs, security, auditing, bank charges) – all essential to running an efficient and professional organization;
…help us to smooth out the ups and downs of project funding. It keeps project staff employed to JET while we wait for project funding to come through;
…are very important during a project hiatus, allowing JET to keep staff, maintain our institutional knowledge, and keep us effective at delivering projects at a high standard.
Other ways you can help JET include:
Attending JET meetings and events;
Volunteering to help with administrative tasks and events (more info below);
Writing a letter to the media in support of JET’s positions and activities;
Sharing our social media posts. We are on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jamentrust), Instagram (@jamentrust1991), Twitter (@jamentrust) and YouTube. Help us get the word out!
Although JET does not have a formal volunteer programme, we do need help from time to time with various administrative tasks, and at our events. To be added to JET’s Volunteer Database please fill out the form at the following link: http://www.jamentrust.org/get-involved/volunteer/. When we do need help we will definitely let you know using the contact information you have provided.
ON PLANS AND PROJECTS:
We need a Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica donor:
Our proposal to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to continue Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica was recently turned down. While TEF is very pleased with JET and the results of Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica, they now operate differently to the last time we applied for a grant. Under a new dispensation (passed in Parliament in April 2017), TEF’s mandate is to concentrate on direct tourism enhancement projects, and Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica does not fall into that category.
Funding for Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica effectively ended on January 31, 2018. Although JET has a little funding left for a few activities in February, Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica faces a very uncertain future. We need a donor to pick up the reigns from TEF.
We need International Coastal Cleanup Day donors:
International Coastal Cleanup Day is September 15 this year. We need support from the private sector to assist with the implementation of JET’s flagship cleanup project – this includes training site coordinators, providing them with a stipend, promoting the event and staging our own cleanup on the Palisadoes. ICC is not only an exercise in building environmental awareness; data is also gathered by volunteers on the types and quantities of waste collected from our beaches. Last year JET coordinated 94 groups to stage 147 cleanups around the island. Over 9,600 volunteers picked up 7,425 bags of garbage weighing 160,000 pounds from 103 miles of Jamaica’s coastline in 2017.
We need access to an off road vehicle for field work:
To implement community based projects and the Schools’ Environment Programme, from time to time the JET staff (“Jetters”) have to visit very remote areas of Jamaica. Some of the communities and schools we visit are located in places where roads are virtually non-existent, and can only be accessed by a vehicle with a four wheel drive. None of the Jetters have 4WD vehicles. Those who do have cars have small, low to the ground compact cars, which are not suitable for field work. We often have to rent a 4WD vehicle for field work, which significantly cuts into our project budget. As much of the field work we do is very ad hoc or for short periods (a week here and there), we don’t need a full-time JET vehicle. The ideal scenario would be JET having access to a 4WD vehicle, which we could gas and use at no (or low) cost on occasion (sometimes with short notice) for our field work.
We need support for unpredictable and unbudgeted requests for talks and presentations:
We often get asked by schools, youth groups, community associations and service clubs to make short presentations on environmental issues. While we would love to fulfill all these requests, sometimes the group is located outside of Kingston, and we simply have no budget for the transport costs . It would be great to have a small pot of funds to help us cover the fuel and toll costs to attend these out of town presentations.
Other medium/long term needs:
Here are some projects the Jetters would love to see funded in the medium to long term:
Better Beaches for Jamaicans/Big Up Wi Beach!
Between 2016 and 2017 JET delivered the Better Beaches for Jamaicans project, which promoted access to beaches and improved the management and ecological health of three Jamaican public bathing beaches through improved local community management and an islandwide beach network. More information is here: http://www.jamentrust.org/2016/11/08/better-beaches-jamaicans/ We would love to continue our Better Beach work by conducting research on public beaches in Jamaica; the data that exists is woefully outdated. We would also like to expand our Big Up Wi Beach! public education campaign, which currently only exists on social media at https://www.facebook.com/bigupwibeach/. We imagine that Big Up Wi Beach! would feature PSAs and other educational content on beach access, how Climate Change impacts beaches and other coastal conservation issues.
Student Environment Network
JET recently submitted a proposal to revive our Student Environment Network (SEN) in the 2018/19 academic year. Through SEN, JET will provide guidance, support, materials and training workshops to mobilize secondary and tertiary students participating in existing youth advocacy groups, to improve their knowledge of local environmental issues and advocacy. If our proposal is successful, JET will need additional funding to assist with executing the year-end SEN activities: this would be a forum in March/April 2019, where youth leaders would have the opportunity to present on the results of their environmental advocacy and network with government and industry stakeholders.
Protected Area Management/Conservation Project
JET would love to become involved in more on-the-ground conservation work in the long term. We have done sea turtle monitoring, and were managers of a fish sanctuary on the Pedro Bank. However, those were short-term projects; we don’t have a sustained JET conservation programme. With last year’s announcement of the Cockpit Country boundary and Protected Area, we have been thinking about the management of Protected Areas. A few of the Jetters have expressed a desire for JET to become managers of a Protected Area in Jamaica; this is something we are exploring and would eventually need funding for.