Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, says the restoration of the concept of the Programme for Resettlement and Integrated Development Enterprise(Operation PRIDE), could significantly address the country’s housing demand.
He said that the Government is of the belief that “this excellent concept” can continue to be used as a vehicle to augment the delivery of affordable housing solutions to many needy beneficiaries, particularly low income earners.
“As a Government, we maintain our belief in this excellent Operation PRIDE concept, which saw diverse communities of Jamaicans with differing needs for land and shelter, benefiting from greenfield sites and occupied land (brownfield sites), with infills and relocation where necessary,” he said, as he addressed a forum at the St. Luke’s Anglican Church Hall in Kingston, on March 14.
The Operation PRIDE initiative was launched in 1994 by then Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, to address several issues, including informal settlements.
Some of the objectives of the programme included the resolution of the shelter needs of a majority of low income Jamaicans through the establishment of new planned settlements and the upgrading of existing settlements; the improvement of environmental and public health conditions in settlements throughout the country; and the mobilisation of resources in the informal sector towards their own improvement, employment creation and national development.
“Despite the achievements obtained under Operation PRIDE, the programme had to be suspended due to a number of implementation challenges. A principal challenge was the limited beneficiary deposit that was available, given the socio-economic standing of the beneficiaries to move the partnership forward,” Dr. Guy explained.
The Minister further pointed out that one of the benefits of the programme was that it was comprehensively and spatially widespread to include most low income settlements throughout the country that lacked security of tenure and basic infrastructure, noting that the financing mechanism was geared to facilitate accumulations of the range of community resources including cash. “So, you see, the concept still remains sound and still is relevant,” he argued.
He said it is imperative that sustainability of the Operation PRIDE programme be examined within the context of the limited financial resources available for development projects and in light of the limited fiscal space within which the Government has to operate. Dr. Guy noted as well, that the restoration of the programme must also be examined within the context of the increasing environmental and technical standards to be met.
“Consideration must also be given to the governance structures within the communities and the ways in which they can be utilised to harness the human and financial capital at the community level to move a programme of this nature forward, so that more of the sustainable, yet incomplete projects can be brought to completion,” the Minister said.
He further informed that the Government has made provision for certificates of possession to be issued to Operation PRIDE housing residents, “who have long occupied lands earmarked for the purpose and have been making payments under this programme, but have not realised the dream to own a solution."
The Minister was addressing development associations and provident societies from across the country at the meeting, which was convened by the Community Organisations for Management and Sustainable Development (COMAND), a non-government, community-based umbrella organisation representing more than 30 provident societies and other marginalised communities.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter