Political representatives have been urged to make space for community leaders to identify development needs in their area, and to work with them to ensure they are achieved, by Mayor of Black River, Councillor Everton Fisher.
Addressing a parish forum on March 11, at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), in Santa Cruz, Mr. Fisher argued that while the political directorate must give support in community development, community volunteers should play the leading role.
“Citizens must have a chance, free from political interference, to plan, to map out and to strategize the development of their area. When they have done so, then it is time for the political directorate to be more involved, to work alongside them to bring these to fruition,” Mayor Fisher told the audience.
“It is not that we must stay behind. Your Councillors and Members of Parliament have an integral role to play in the development of the communities. I believe that sometimes we must listen more to the people,” he added, noting that many persons have given up their time to volunteer and contribute to community development.
The forum, organized by the Social Development Commission (SDC), was dubbed: ‘Participatory, Accountability and Responsibility (PAR)’. They are being held across the island to provide citizens with updates on the work and achievements of the agency.
At the forum, several state agencies, community leaders as well as civic groups provided details of their recent achievements in the parish. Members of the audience were also allowed to ask questions. ;
“I am pleased about this session, because the SDC has become a part of us in our communities, and seeing it all mapped out has made me realize how much work we have done. We have seen the transformation, especially in St. Elizabeth,” stated Secretary of the Junction Area Development Committee, Ms. Tamor Blake.
For his part, President of the Newcombe Valley Police Youth Club, Ashlyn Parchment, said the SDC has placed them on the verge of gaining a community Internet project by the Universal Service Fund.
“I am pleased with the work they (SDC) are doing. The forum was good for us to express ourselves, and we get firsthand knowledge of what they are doing in the parish,” Mr. Parchment told JIS News.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon, lauded the community leaders for the work they have been doing.
He said the SDC is about empowering citizens, enabling their participation in dialogue, decisions and actions that promote development.“When we do these things we can impact positively. We can increase people’s participation in governance, we can strengthen the local authority, and we can foster wealth creation and poverty reduction. If we work together, we can improve educational outcomes for our children and adults,” Dr. Vernon said.
By Garfield Angus, JIS Reporter