With an eye toward the upcoming 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, stakeholders serving vulnerable communities discussed how to protect at-risk citizens in a recent meeting hosted by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) and the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB).
The meeting – held on March 30, 2023 – brought together non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and other stakeholders. A key discussion point was the launch of the Ministry of VSA’s pilot Integrated Social Registry System, which aims to enhance coordination and collaboration, both within and outside the ministry, to improve the delivery of social programs and services.
Developed by a local information technology (IT) company, the Social Registry represents a transformational approach in how government can identify and support residents in need of social services and assistance.
Currently, if someone wants to request aid from several government-run social programs, they are required to submit application forms and corresponding paperwork for each application. As each social program acts autonomously to the others, it means that if the applicant were eligible for other programs, they would not be identified, leaving room for at-risk residents and households to be inadequately supported. Now, with the Social Registry, people only need to apply once through the system’s portal.
The Social Registry thus allows the Ministry of VSA to determine if persons are potentially eligible for one or more social services and/or programs. The spin-off effect of this approach is that the VSA Ministry will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of citizens, especially after a disaster. It will also enable the Government of Sint Maarten to improve its policies and where necessary create new services and programs that are tailor-made to the needs of the people of Sint Maarten.
Sint Maarten’s NGOs and FBOs are often the first point of contact for vulnerable communities. Recognizing the importance of these robust sectors, the meeting called together several organizations to talk about how the Social Registry can be strengthened through collaboration and the ways in which organizations can work together to achieve better outcomes for the individuals and families they serve.
“Through our various social programs and projects, the Ministry of VSA is committed to making the lives of our residents better and developing a Sint Maarten that is more prosperous for all. The push towards this goal is now made easier with the delivery of the Integrated Social Registry System, which I have been looking forward to seeing since I took office as your Minister of VSA. I thank all stakeholders for their hard work, especially the staff of the Ministry of VSA and those of the NRPB,” said VSA Minister Omar Ottley.
The pilot Social Registry will be tested for several months. Based on the results of this preliminary phase, it is expected that the Social Registry’s official launch will be in July 2023.
The Social Registry is part of the second component of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Income Support Training Program (EISTP). The Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.