JIS News

Rural communities sometimes lament that development does not occur in these communities as quickly as it does in urban areas but at least one aspect of this concern may soon be silenced in one such community as a result of an $11 million sanitation project.
In the parish of St. Thomas, which recently faced the wrath of back-to-back hurricanes, the concept of “sweat equity” is being used in post hurricane rehabilitative and development projects in the parish. Among them, is the sanitation project in the district of Prospect. To this end, a benevolent society was recently established to oversee works on the $11 million sanitation project.
In an interview with JIS News, Field Services Manager of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Luther Cummings informs that 21 families in the community are to benefit from the sanitation project and the benevolent society is the compulsory legal entity through which funds will be channelled and managed. The society, which is a self-help co-operative he adds, will be fully responsible for managing the project, with the funds being disbursed to its bank account. “They will be responsible for appointing the relevant contractors, pay all bills, and develop reports to the funding agency and the community on a monthly basis,” he points out.
“Funding was sought from JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund) to develop the sanitation solution for the 21 families,” he said. The Field Services Manager pointed out that where there was once a serious environmental and health hazard as a result of residents disposing of waste in plastic bags and behind bushes in open nearby fields, with a sanitation system in place this hazard would no longer exist.
“They are very happy for the project and being able to feel good about where they live. The added benefit of the project is that it will provide employment for the residents, which could be for up to two years,” he notes.
“Creating a benevolent society allows residents of communities to combine their human resources to manage their affairs. This allows everyone a stake in the affairs of the community and this should be the direction communities go in managing and maintaining their communities,” Mr.Cummings says.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson commends the citizens of Prospect saying that the formation of a benevolent self-help society “is part of a strategy for projects coming out of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund.”
He says, “for the advancement of these projects there is the question of ‘sweat equity’, and so residents have to put in their share of this concept, in whatever shape or form it takes.” In the case of Prospect, he continues, the formation of a legally constituted benevolent society, resulting from the “sweat equity” concept, gives them the clear-cut authority of being able to hire or fire any contractor to work on the project.
“In other words they have full authority and full responsibility over the project to see that it gets completed on time and within budget,” he explains.
This is the type of self-help that forms part of the deepening of the Local Government Reform process the State Minister points out. “Prospect is not the only place it is happening he explains, its happening in Rolland’s Field where they’re doing a water project, and its planned for Arcadia and Sunny Hill where basic schools are scheduled to be built,” Dr. Ferguson says.