JIS News

Communities interested in entering the Better Environments for Social Transformation (BEST) community competition are being reminded that the deadline for submitting applications is Friday, February 16.
Consultant Co-ordinator for Special Programmes and Projects in the Cabinet Office, Jacqueline daCosta, told a recent JIS News Think Tank, that the application process was now open and community representatives could collect application forms at the regional offices of the Social Development Commission (SDC) as well as parish council offices islandwide.
She noted that the primary objective of the competition was to encourage individuals, businesses and professionals to become more involved in the sustainable development of their communities while protecting the environment.
“The programme is geared towards the 785 communities identified by the SDC.so we really want to get as many people involved in transforming their communities, both the citizens as well as persons from those communities, who have various capacities or abilities to help the others in various technical and professional ways, as well as financially or in kind,” she stated.
Outlining the application process, Arthur Newland, Special Programmes Officer at the SDC, explained that community members must first contact their Community Development Committee (CDC), which is mandated to represent the community. The CDC then fills out the application form and submits it to the nearest SDC, Parish Council or Parish Development Committee office.
“Subsequent to that, the community must submit a work plan, this would outline what are the plans for the community that the CDC is being guided by, as well as a profile of the community. It is on the basis of this documentation that the judging would proceed,” he explained.
Mrs. daCosta further added that the communities would be judged at both the parish and the national levels. The national winner will receive $2 million and trophies.
In addition, there will be special category prizes at the parish and national levels, for the most beautiful community, the best-kept educational institution, best-improved agricultural practices, best community spirit and self-reliance, and best cultural heritage programme. Prizes must be used for further community development programmes.
Meanwhile, communities are being reminded that all projects and programmes must give priority to seven main areas. These areas are: the built environment, the natural environment, socio-economic activities, such as job creation opportunities; hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness, education, health and waste management, heritage and culture.
Digicel Jamaica Foundation has pledged to provide $10 million to the competition, annually.