Saturday, 2 March 2013

CI’s Caribbean project: First step, further work, great experience

CI’s Antonino Serra Cambaceres recounts the successes of CI’s project in the Caribbean.

CI’s three-year project in the Caribbean has come to an end. What for me was initially a challenge became an excellent opportunity to go deeper into the Caribbean reality in terms of consumer protection, to uncover their most pressing needs.

The project has been a success, giving consumers more tools and resources to protect themselves.

The work we have done in developing codes of practice for banks in the Caribbean will be used as a model for other countries in future. The project also helped deliver a new consumer association in Trinidad and Tobago.

Moreover, the experience helped to revitalise the Caribbean Consumer Council (CCC), a long standing initiative fostered by CI during the Caribbean Conferences held in 2000 and on, that now reunite many organisations from different countries. This project helped CCC to update its webpage, to maintain updated information for all members.

Yet challenges remain: small countries have different approaches to the same issues and they fight endlessly to get what they think they deserve.

This project has been a first step taken by CI in using a more holistic approach to the Caribbean.

CI will continue to work with our Caribbean colleagues to build on the outcomes we have achieved, including:
  • More coordination between consumer groups and the government;
  • Knowledge of ways to obtain funding for projects; and
  • Tools to develop sustainable organisations.
I am looking at the road ahead and I am optimistic. All of the people I have met during the last three years working on this project are now not only colleagues but friends. I envision a future with triumphs and advancements in our effort for a better quality of life for everyone.

I will miss this project a lot. I will miss working with CI’s Regional Project Co-ordinator Candice Ramessar and her everlasting vitality. And the chats and great times that I spent with Dolsie Allen, Suzette Spencer and Dorothy Campbell from the Consumer Affairs Commission, Jamaica;
Dexter Morgan and Annalisa Vahlabab from the Consumer Affaires Department, Trinidad and Tobago; Joyce Campbell from NCL, Jamaica; Malcolm Gibbs from Taitt: Barcro, Barbados; Philip MacClauren from Consumers Affairs, St. Lucia and the Caribbean Consumer Committee; and Hildred Simpson from Antigua Consumers Affaris Commission; among many, many others.

During the project implementation, activities helped to bring together consumer organisations not only for training and capacity building but for networking and knowledge sharing amongst them. These opportunities were unique moments to exchange views and to tailor common strategies to influence regional bodies, such as CARICOM.

Our journey in the Caribbean has just begun.

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