• JIS News

    The Better Environment for Social Transformation (BEST) Community Competition will be launched on Thursday (November 30), by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall.
    Consultant Co-ordinator for Special Programmes and Projects, Cabinet Office, Jacqueline daCosta, told JIS News that the overall objective of the BEST community competition is to encourage individuals, businesses and professionals to become more involved in the sustainable development of their communities while protecting the environment.
    “The competition is a way of engaging and empowering communities to achieve sustainable development for themselves and for Jamaica on a whole. It is a way of engaging and empowering them by getting them involved in their country through positive actions,” she explained.
    Existing community-based organisations in every community across the island, such as neighbourhood watches, senior citizen groups, youth groups, and police youth groups are encouraged to unite to undertake a number of projects and programmes to improve the areas in which they live.
    Mrs. daCosta informed that these projects and programmes must give priority to seven main areas with a number of sub categories in each area. The seven 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.
    Community members who are interested in entering the BEST Community Competition are being encouraged to approach private and public sectors organisations, such as Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the CHASE Fund, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica to request grants for the projects and programmes they wish to undertake.
    In addition, individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations and other government agencies are being encouraged to offer training, technical and professional and technical assistance for their projects.
    Application forms, brochures and guidelines for the competition can be collected at the Social Development Commission’s regional offices islandwide, as well as Parish Council offices from December 1, 2006. Application closes on February 16, 2007.
    The Consultant Co-ordinator noted that the communities would be judged at both the parish and the national levels. The national winner will receive $2 million and trophies.
    There will also be special 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 programmes.
    The BEST community competition was formed based on a recognition by a group of concerned public and private sector organisations, that there is a critical need to involve citizens in the social, economic, physical and environmental transformation of the society, which resulted in the establishment of a national BEST Community Competition Steering Committee.