JIS News

More than 70 communities have already submitted their community projects to the Better Environments for Social Transformation (BEST) Community Competition. The deadline for entries is Friday, February 16.
The communities will vie for attractive prizes including cash and trophies, valued at $10 million and sponsored by the Digicel Foundation.
Speaking with JIS News, Special Programmes Officer at the Social Development Commission, Arthur Newland said that, local governance structures would be strengthened with the staging of the BEST Community Competition, which would help to foster a greater level of collaboration among community organisations.
The competition is being implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister, through the Social Development Commission (SDC), under the guidance of a steering committee. It encourages communities to develop sustainable development projects and vie for prizes at the parish and national levels.
“We are trying to build a new structure that will increase popular participation in the process of local governance,” Mr. Newland said and in light of this, one criterion of the competition is that community organisations, such as Citizens’ Associations, Parent/Teacher Associations, Youth Clubs, church groups and civic groups submit their entries to SDC regional Offices, through their respective Community Development Committees (CDCs). The competition is open to those communities, which have active CDCs. Of the 785 communities that the SDC has identified across the island, more than 550 have actively functioning CDCs.
There are seven categories in the competition: Built environment; natural environment; socio-economic; hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness; education; health and waste management; and heritage and culture.
Noting that a joined-up approach to development planning holds major benefits for the country, Mr. Newland explained that the BEST Community Competition was seeking to empower and highlight those communities which “have been working to bring about.better collaboration, and more unity of purpose in tackling some of the burning problems that citizens face”.
He lauded the competition as being a “real, touchable process that will allow for recognition of communities. It will also bring in resources to assist communities to make their day-to-day inputs towards their own development and to the development of this nation”.
The organizers are encouraging all CDCs to submit their applications to the SDC regional office in their area. The judging process will begin on Labour Day, May 23, allowing entrants to advance the implementation of their projects.