Credits UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Published on August 4, 2023

Improving Quality of Life for Persons with Disabilities

UNICEF and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding signalling their partnership and commitment to improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities and modernizing the social protection system.

According to the 2001 Census, there are approximately 580,000 persons with disabilities in Jamaica. Thirty thousand (30,000) are registered with the JCPD, of which 5,000 are children.

“There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure that no one is left behind,” said UNICEF Jamaica Representative, Olga Isaza at the signing ceremony on Wednesday, May 24 at the AC Hotel in Kingston. “UNICEF is concerned that of the persons living with disabilities, 25% are poor and 53% live in rural areas,” she added.

Speaking on behalf of the EU Ambassador, Marianne Van Steen, Vanna Lawrence said, “The European Union uses this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to raising awareness on the living conditions of persons with disabilities, highlighting the challenges they encounter in everyday life as we assist with providing the tools and resources needed to improve their lives.”

The MoU forms part of a broader initiative to strengthen Jamaica’s child-sensitive, shock-responsive social protection system. It also covers technical support which is geared towards strengthening the quality of services for persons with disabilities especially children with disabilities.

Over the next 18 months, under the agreement, UNICEF will accelerate its work with the Council to support the needs of the most disadvantaged children. Through a project oversight committee, comprising the government, and partner UN Agencies such as UN Women and the World Food Programme, UNICEF will be building the capacity of key stakeholders. 

This project is being funded by a joint Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Fund Programme and the Canadian Government. “Already, the programme is responding to Jamaica’s national development priorities,” UN Resident Coordinator, Vincent Sweeney said.

“We are enhancing payment processes making them more efficient, effective, and accessible as well as strengthening institutional capacity for evidence-based emergency expansion of social protection programmes for the most vulnerable.” Mr Sweeney noted.

Additionally, the programme ensures that information systems used by the Social Protection system are integrated to support increased coverage and coordination and importantly work to close gender gaps on the policy and legislative frameworks.

Ms Isaza pointed out that these are critical areas which require sustained attention to protect and build on the gains made within the past decade. "We must continue to work to advance the fundamental rights and promote the full potential of children by the SDGs and Jamaica’s 2030 development plan.”

For his part, the Chairman of the JCPD Board, Mr. Collin Ebanks welcomed the partnership agreement with UNICEF and shared that he was anticipating the training in advocacy and other capacity-building opportunities for the Board of Directors and technical staff of the Council.


This article is originally published at UN Jamaica.


The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.