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Non-profit group promotes useful ideas for open government

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019. 11:06 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: This week, the Trust for the Americas, a not-for-profit organization and affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS), closed an eighteen-month project designed to advance solutions and projects that advance democracy and governance efforts in engagement with the civil society.

 C.E.O. Linda Eddleman says the Belize project follows from a similar initiative in Costa Rica and later Panama.

Eight groups were selected to present on their projects, featuring useful ideas. But what’s next?

“We just applied for renewal of our grant, and we hope that we will receive additional grant funding so that will allow us to move into Phase 2, in Belize, and that would allow us to continue working in the country and expanding our efforts in terms of promoting open government and innovations.”

 The Chamber of Commerce and Industry created a website to track, news-style, new laws and regulations published in the Government Gazette. The Belize Audio Visual Industry Association (BAVIA) maintains an online system registry for its members to promote their services. Secondary schoolers from Belize High School and Corozal Junior College promoted their own apps.

 Among vulnerable communities, the Child Development Foundation is tackling domestic violence among police officers; while the Wildlife Conservation Society and Ya’axche Conservation Trust are tackling data on fishing and crop production.

 But one idea expected to have almost immediate impact is an app to buy services – new birth, marriage and death certificates – from the Vital Statistics Unit in the Attorney General’s Ministry without having to brave long lines at its City headquarters.

As explained by co-developer Kendesha Armstrong, a student of the University of Belize, theirs was the winning application at a BELTRAIDE event.

 She notes that while there is no way to avoid any internal issues, once the app is complete by the end of the year, applicants can apply from home and be informed when the certificate is ready, removing several headaches. It is hoped that the beleaguered VSU will buy in.


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